Hanging loose during the coronavirus pandemic

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Rather than focusing on opportunities lost, Evan responded with excitement to new opportunities to surf. Photo by Andrew Ficke

With vacations on hold and other venues closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s fair to say that it hasn’t been a normal summer for anyone—especially students. During any other summer it would be normal for groups of friends to spend the day at an amusement park or hang out at the movies; this summer has been conversely characterized by long days stuck inside and endless hours on Zoom. In spite of these challenges, one student has found a way to stay active and positive.

Meet Evan Stout, a local surfer and high school junior. You may have seen him around: he can often be found with his friends, walking down Main Street in a wetsuit and carrying a surfboard or boogie board. Like many students, Evan’s summer has been a weird one. Before the pandemic hit, he was looking forward to a trip to Hawaii, finishing his lacrosse season and an internship in New York. Evan was discouraged by his aborted summer plans: “I was disappointed about missed opportunities that would have been really fun to do.”

Rather than focusing on opportunities lost, Evan responded with excitement to new opportunities to surf: “I’ve been surfing for three or four years, and it’s just fun to get out in the water, sometimes when it’s still dark, and have the cold water hit my body. It makes me forget about school, and everything going on. I’ve been bodyboarding for 9 months, and it has made me a different person in a way. I look at the ocean and I look at people differently from these experiences. I’ve made friends in the community.” Evan also gives some of his free time to volunteer in the community, helping film online services at Grace Community Church of Seal Beach, as congregants are unable to attend due to pandemic-related restrictions.

As the pandemic continues to disrupt normal life in Seal Beach, let’s all grab a face mask and surfboard and “hang loose” like Evan.