Tarifa, a place to overcome fear of water
Tarifa has been the last stop of Sun Tribe Spain 2016 and the scenery of three girls overcoming fear of water. This kitesurfing town is the southern point of Spain and the closest to Africa. It’s strong winds, accelerated by the Venturi Effect created by the Strait of Gibraltar, together with the beauty of the wild open beaches, are the perfect attraction for kitesurfers and windsurfers from all over the world. Any wind chaser that goes to Tarifa will get caught up in it’s atmosphere. Everything is impregnated by the energy of the crush of two continents, Africa and Europe, and two oceans, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. With those conditions, the success of the end of Sun Tribe in Spain was assured!
If you want to know what happened at Delta del Ebro or at La Manga del Mar Menor read the articles Sun Tribe Has Started at Delta del Ebro, The Kitegirls at Delta Learned More Than Kitesurfing and Kitesurfing La Manga: The Birth of Companionship and Freedom.
As every first day of Sun Tribe, we asked the girls why they wanted to be part of the project.
This moment is always very important for us as instructors and social coaches, because it gives us the starting point. It provides us with an overview of where the girls are at and where to start working from.
¨Because I am very afraid of water¨
¨I want to stop being scared of water to be able to surf¨
¨I am very afraid of the deep in the water, I don’t know if I can float¨
We realized we were in front of a very brave group, all of them willing to overcome the fear of drowning.
Fear won’t stop us!
Fear is a feeling or emotion caused by a real or imaginary danger. It is necessary as a survival skill when the danger is real, but when we over think dangers, turning them into unreal situations, fear can affect our lives negatively, stopping us from doing things that could help us grow and give us pleasure. So the problem is not being afraid, but feeling fear when the danger is not real.
When we are in the ocean, it is very important to be aware of the dangers and be very respectful of the elements of nature. We can’t fight the ocean or the wind, but we can understand them and respect their nature to keep us safe. It is also very important to be able to control our impulses when feeling fear to avoid panic or anxiety, as those reactions can put ourselves into serious danger in the water. The mission of Sun Tribe is to help the girls to overcome fears, particularly to overcome fear of water, and to strengthen their self esteem so… Let’s start!
Thinking will not overcome fear but action will
I grew up with the idea that every day we should do something we are scared of. The girls from Sun Tribe Tarifa expressed this idea in many different ways during the course of the project.
¨I am always scared of things, but I want to do them to feel the success of overcoming a fear¨
¨Learning to kite is going to help me to do other things in the water like surf¨
To overcome a fear is very helpful to feel confident in yourself, feel that you can achieve something, even though you are scared. Learning to kitesurf gave the girls the power of confidence when they realized they can control something, something that at the beginning they thought was almost impossible.
The local TV news RTVTarifa came to the beach to share with the world what the Sun Tribe project looks like at the beach. Check the minute 13:50 for the first video and 22:50 for the second one to find the news about Sun Tribe in Tarifa!
¨I have never been in deep water because I am afraid to drown¨
With this challenge, we only had one mission: to help the girls to build a positive relationship with the ocean and start enjoying being in the water.
The first thing we did was to help them understand that it is not bad or negative to feel this fear. Everyone has fear for something. It is important to be able to talk about our fears naturally and respect each other.
During one of the sessions we went in the water. We rested the kites aside and tackled the issue, gearing ourselves up with wetsuits, life jackets and harnesses and jumping right in. We used the safety leashes to drag them in the water imitating the pull of the kite. They practiced the body drag up and downwind positions, learning how to place their legs with the kitesurf board right before the waterstart. We used those exercises to help the girls experience the sensation of floating safely and swimming in deep water. We also created a playful atmosphere where laughs and jokes were present all the time. As IKO instructors we were close to the girls, offering them support and giving them confidence.
¨The water scares me, but on Tuesday I overcame that fear, I swam to the buoy!¨
¨When I see people doing something I am scared of, it helps me to overcome my fear. If they can, I can too!¨
¨That experience motivated me to sign up for after school swimming classes¨
The Sun Tribe Ritual
And as every end of Sun Tribe, we reflected about our learning with the metaphor of the backpack. ¨Every one of us has a backpack where we put all the things we learn in life. Some of them will stay forever, being used over and over. Some others will fall or get lost. What is something you learned during Sun Tribe Tarifa that will stay in your personal backpack and will be used in your future?¨
Here are some of the girl’s reflections:
¨Companionship at the beach. There is always someone to help you at the beach, to land and launch the kite, to help you when you are in trouble¨.
¨I learned that it is easy to build friendships at the beach¨
¨It is like if we knew the kitesurfers from before, I feel trust in them, because we have the same mission, I feel close to them¨
¨The positive energy. I see the kitesurfing community like happy people, there are good vibes, people being silly and having fun¨
¨To overcome a fear. I thought I couldn’t go in the water but I did! That gives me confidence¨
As Dorothy Thompson said, ¨Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live¨. And what a better life than overcoming fear of water, and getting hooked to a positive and healthy life style!
To learn more about Sun Tribe at Tarifa have a look to some of the press articles published by the local newspapers from Tarifa and Algeciras:
Thanks to our local collaborators
The City Council of Tarifa provided media coverage, and transport for the girls to be able to go to the beach. We collaborated with the Psychologist and Counselor of Education from a local high school, Instituto Almadraba, in order to find teenagers who would benefit from our project. The professional on education selected a group of three girls from 16 to 19 years old, who could benefit tremendously with social inclusion and self esteem growth.
Nothing would have been possible without the support from the kiteschool Bull Tarifa, who provided the necessary kitesurfing gear for the girls to learn. The kiteschool and shop Wet Watersports also helped Sun Tribe with logistics and helping with the development and support of the continuity program for the kite girls.