Surf Coaching, Yoga & Adventure
Holly Beck Obermeyer – Surf Instructor
Holly grew up the oldest of five girls in Palos Verdes, CA. She always loved the water and wanted to learn to surf around age 12 but her very old-fashioned mother would not allow it, telling her, “surfing is for boys, you’ll never get a boyfriend out there competing with them. You should be sitting on the beach looking cute in a bikini!” By the age of 15 Holly had saved up babysitting money, bought herself a surfboard and a wetsuit and never looked back.
In June of 2001, Holly graduated from UCSD with a degree in Psychology and won the amateur National Surfing Championships. She turned pro and spent the next 10 years traveling all over the world to places like Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Peru, South Africa, Gabon, Sao Tome, the Seychelles, the Andaman Islands, Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, England, France, Portugal, Ecuador, the Galapagos, Mexico, and Costa Rica. On a trip to Nicaragua in 2006 she fell in love with the warm water waves, friendly locals, and laid-back lifestyle, bought land, and began to fantasize about moving to Central America full time.
Holly earned an MBA in Marketing while traveling and crafted a business plan to start a women’s surf school in Nicaragua. In 2010, she founded Suave Dulce, later changing the name to Surf With Amigas. She believes that anything is possible if you are willing to work hard and visualize success. As further proof of this philosophy, Holly now lives in Nicaragua full time with her awesome husband Kim, baby girl Luna, and their two dogs and three horses.
Jackie George – Surf Instructor
Jackie grew up spending the majority of her time on the beaches of her southern California hometown, San Clemente, where she developed her expertise as a water woman and beach bum. In high school, she embraced the path set before her by previous generations of lifeguards, swimmers, surfers, and water polo players and devoted her time and energy to exactly those things. Jackie went to on to study cultural geography and Spanish at Humboldt State University where she was able to explore California’s more remote coastline complete with bigger waves and colder water. It was in Humboldt that she developed a love for a natural and slow-paced lifestyle, but eventually tired of the cold weather, and decided to head south to Nicaragua for the winter. That first winter working with Holly quickly turned to a year and a half of teaching surfing with Amigas, traveling around Central America, and playing in the tropical paradise of her current home base in northern Nicaragua.
Before coming to Nicaragua, Jackie worked as a surf instructor up and down the coast of California, a beach lifeguard, a swim instructor and coach, and a whitewater rafting guide, and spent any free time she had traveling the world in search of adventure. Working with Surf With Amigas seems to be a culmination of her university studies, guiding and ocean experience, and inherent love of travel coming together to provide her dream lifestyle. In her time off from retreats you can find her searching for surf somewhere in Central America, listening to dancehall reggae somewhere in the Caribbean, cruising up and down California’s Highway 1, or attempting to catch a fish.
Nikki Belcher – Yoga Instructor
Nikki discovered yoga in 2009 with credit to a dear friend. After a turmoil of events, (passing of loved ones, DUI, and a breakup) she was in search of her own strength. Having always felt a strong mind-body connection being an athlete, she began to inquire about the rising fad of yoga and pilates. Not knowing what to expect, she nervously asked a friend to teach her a private yoga class in her living room.
This is where the journey began. Nikki felt a sense lightness for the first time in what felt like forever. It was clear to her that she needed to be back in her body. Almost immediately, she developed a 5-7 days a week practice. Every time she came to her mat, she reconnected with herself — finding peaceful nourishment. Through the series of vigorous asanas, Nikki became aware of the often surprising emotional releases and healing effects of the practice. She gained a deeper understanding of self-love and compassion and the power of positive affirmation.
In summer of 2010, Nikki was laid off. Resisting the urge to immediately find another job, she knew it was time to make a change. After five years of working as a hair-stylist by day and cocktail waitress by night, she felt a sense of complacent monotony. Life lacked the richness she desired. For the first time, she began asking herself a few questions: ‘What makes me feel good?’ ‘What brings me joy?’ ‘If I had the time, how would I choose to express my creative side?’
During this time of inner exploration, traveling is what continued to surface as the answer to many of these questions. Always having a deeper urge to go somewhere new, Nikki wanted to immerse herself fully in different cultures. Amidst looking into volunteer opportunities abroad, she stumbled upon a yoga teacher training.
After completing her first 200 RYT in Costa Rica in the spring of 2011, Nikki felt inspired to move away from home and start a new path. Shortly after returning home, Nikki had an opportunity to move across the country for a relationship in which she knew would ultimately not work out. She felt that in order to experience a new adventure, she needed to have a little faith. Despite her fear of failure, she moved from Chicago to Philadelphia and began working as a yoga teacher. Adapting easier than she anticipated in the historical, artistic city she quickly felt a sense of community. Moving to The City of Brotherly Love taught her to trust and relinquish the desire to know and control the outcome of things. In early 2012, Nikki was contacted through a series of synchronistic events regarding a work for trade position teaching yoga in Nicaragua. Feeling torn between her wish to combine her love of travel and yoga and feeling invested and supported by her new community in Philadelphia, she had to make a decision.
After reflecting on her leap of faith in her move from her hometown of Chicago to Philly, she realized that no matter where she went, she could find a community to connect with. Despite her previous fears she felt a sense of serene, infinite space within. As grace as her guide and a lot of trust in her inner voice, she moved to central Nicaragua two weeks later.
Eventually she found her way to El Coco Loco and joined the team at Surf With Amigas. Meeting women from all over the world of all different ages, she is a part of a team which empowers women to conquer fears on many levels. From traveling solo, to surfing, to practicing yoga, Nikki supports people in their ability to see their full potential. She also lives and works closely with the local community and non-profit organization, Waves of Hope.
Working to improve the quality of life through education, infrastructure and health care, she sees first hand the gratifying impact selfless work has on the local community as well as the travelers.
As an eternal student, Nikki’s practices and teachings are constantly changing and evolving. From the impact of the lunar cycle to finding a sense of power, Nikki thoughtfully weaves in themes and intentions into her classes. Her classes are carefully designed to use the anatomical keys of the physical body to unlock the emotional patterns and blocks stored subconsciously. Nikki believes the way one defines their truth is a personal journey. A true nurturer, she brings her students on a complete personal yet collective journey through slow and mindful sequences. She is continually inspired by each connection and experience life has to offer, trusting there is a lesson within all.
Carly Chivers – Surf and Yoga Instructor
Carly is one of the rare instructors that excels at both surfing and yoga. While Surf With Amigas has primarily used her as a yoga teacher, she is also awesome in the water.
The path of self inquiry through yoga practice is an ongoing exploration for Carly. She attended Brandon University in Canada, studying psychology and world religion, and competing in volleyball at the CIS level. During this time, the practice of yoga came about as a way to balance out her life, and her physical body from the constant impact of sport. Since then, yoga has evolved into a constant source of deep grounding and inspiration in her life.
Yoga, combined with a dedicated passion for surfing, has led her all over the world. She has surfed and explored Europe, North. Africa, Indonesia, Hawaii and is currently living in Central America. Her love for the ocean and surfing has a strong influence on her yoga practice. Carly often marvels at the parallels and level of meditation that both surfing and yoga offer, both allowing for moments of deep connection to nature and to self. The ebbs and flows of moving through life and the constant flux of the ocean are great teachers for Carly, always reminding her to let go, enjoy the ride and find an immense of level of gratitude in every moment.
After years of practice, Carly took the leap to become a 200 HR RYT in 2011. Since then Carly has been studying, and sharing her contagious love for yoga, and the peace she finds on the mat with her students. Carly challenges her students to express their most authentic self on the mat, and in the world. Teaching, sharing her passion with others, and encouraging her students to pursue what inspires them, is what keeps Carly going!
Sherrie Houghton – Surf Instructor
Surf. Travel. Lifestyle. Sherrie’s favorite things. Growing up on the beaches of the Central Coast of NSW Australia, her dad taught her to surf at a young age and she was hooked, always trying to figure out how to sustain a permanent surfing lifestyle. Sherrie has entered in surfing competitions on and off since 1999, with some of her best results at the NSW State and Australian National longboarding Titles and recently winning 1st place at the 2014 Canadian National Longboarding Titles.
Surfing and the need for adventure has taken Sherrie all over the world, on her own solo surf missions in search of dream waves and tropical paradise. She has surfed in Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Canada, USA, Hawaii, Mexico, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Chile.
After completing a Bachelor Degree of Naturopathic Medicine and Massage Therapy in 2009 she moved to Canada to become a snowboarder and work as a Massage Therapist in Heli Skiing lodges. After a few winters in the mountains the ocean was calling her name and she headed west to the Canadian Surf town of Tofino and became a Surf Instructor.
Sherrie has been surf instructing for the past 4 years and discovered that she can combine her love of surfing, traveling and living a healthy happy lifestyle by becoming a surf coach at surfcamps and travel the world doing so. She has taught for a few camps throughout the world and is stoked to be joining the Surf with Amigas team, showing guests around some of her favourite surf breaks while happily teaching some longboarding style and afterwards mixing guests a mean cocktail during Happy Hour.
Jaime McClain – Surf Instructor
Jaime spent her childhood years surfing, swimming and hanging on the beaches of North County San Diego. At 17 she decided to hit the road and go to college at the furthest reaches of California. The choice was easy. She wanted a place where shoes and bras were optional, redwoods grew on front lawns and the beach was a mystical wonderland far removed from the crowded beaches of Southern California. The transition to surfing up in Humboldt wasn’t an easy one but with dedication the obsession grew daily. Going from surfing in a bikini to 5mm wetsuits complete with a hood and booties eventually became the norm and it was hard remember the last day she wasn’t immersed in 50-degree water.
As wonder and excitement grew on the Pacific Northwest studying the life under the surface was an easy fit. She got her B.S. in Marine Biology with an emphasis in Scientific Diving and following graduation moved to Catalina Island to work as a Dive Instructor. After some island living she decided it was time to use more of her degree so she headed to Oregon to work as a Fisheries Observer. Working on board commercial trawlers wasn’t easy, but definitely the experience of a lifetime. After the year long contract expired she headed south, far south. She had known Jackie from Humboldt and knew what she was up to in paradise and decided to ask if there was room for another Amiga on the Amigas team. There was!
So she pulled the bikinis out of the depths of her clothing collection and headed to El Coco Loco to work with Surf with Amigas. As anyone who has been on a retreat knows, the lifestyle is addictive. Now shes got the dream figured out: seasonal biology/diving work and Surfing with Amigas!!! You can usually find Jaime diving the Channel Islands, on a boat, or discovering the wonders of nature.
Michelle Kienlen – Surf Instructor
Michelle, 23, was born in Black River Falls, Wisconsin and moved to St Petersburg, Florida at the age of 6. Growing up fishing, playing softball and a few musical instruments she was not introduced to surfing until the age of 15. That first wave was all it took and she was hooked. Surfing instantly turned into a passion. Her parents were unsupportive but as soon as Michelle was 16 she drove across the state every weekend to surf the Atlantic side of Florida and learned to surf. She picked up a few small sponsors including Nekton surf shop, NXTC shapes, Zinka, and DNA energy drinks. With the support of Tommy Daniels shaping her boards and coaching, Michelle started avidly competing, surfing small waves in ESA and local pro-am contests all around Florida. After that, she decided to start traveling in search of better waves in between school and work.
At the age of 19 a close friend brought her and her friend Nina to Puerto Rico. They loved the perfect Caribbean waves and took many trips back to PR to surf. Since then Michelle has traveled to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and El Salvador. She is currently taking classes online and working at the Don Cesar hotel on St. Pete Beach Florida, when not surfing with and inspiring Amigas.
Nadia Schulkind – Surf Instructor
Nadia has always been excited and restless when it comes to the ocean – which has even led her to the Amiga nickname “Grom.” Nadia was born in San Diego, CA and spent her childhood living between there and Hawai’i. As a young girl Nadia’s family inspired her to learn how to surf, bodysurf, kayak and other water sports. Her dad bought her a 8′ Takayama Egg when she was ten and the rest was history. After that surfboard, Nadia scored a job at the local surf camp at age 12 in order to hangout at the beach more without mom. She was much younger than most of the kids at the actual camp and was also too young to be paid legally, so she used store credit earned to buy more surf and water toys.
Fast forward to age 22, and Nadia is still finding ways to stick near or in the water. She moved to Oahu, HI and graduated from Hawai’i Pacific University with a Bachelors in Communication. After Nadia graduated, she treated herself to a solo adventure down to Nicaragua. She spent two months living on a farm in rural northern Nicaragua, surfing at the Boom. One day while surfing, Nadia met Holly in the lineup and again – the rest is history. Nadia worked at Amigas in October and can’t wait to return for the summer season for more fun with our staff and new friends!
She spends her free time in Oahu surfing, hiking, camping and bodysurfing Sandy’s. Nadia has an admiration for creativity and imagination. She enjoys art and has recently gotten into cold glass carving. She loves to motivate people to be the best they can be, and to be themselves while doing it. If you asked her to describe her motivations in life she would tell you, “My life is driven by experiences and the university within people."
Emily Wratschko – Surf Instructor
Emily is 25 years old and hails from Palos Verdes, California. She grew up surfing the South Bay of LA and was lucky enough to have a tight knit group of local girl surfers and the influences of Holly. She participated in contests throughout High School and ended up being the team captain of Peninsula High’s surf team her senior year. After graduating, her love for surfing definitely influenced her choice in colleges. She headed down to San Diego State University where she got a degree in Business Administration and scored some great waves. Emily also competed with her college surf team where they took home multiple state championship titles. Teaching surf lessons throughout college lead her to open her LA based surf school where she could share her love of surfing with people from all over the world. After her first trip in Nicaragua back in 2010 she jumped at the opportunity to teach with Surf With Amigas!
Ginger Wojcik – Surf Instructor
To be raised in Ginger’s family was to be raised with the understanding that ocean water cures all ailments, physical or otherwise, and that riding a wave is as sacred an activity as this world provides. Her dad, a surfboard shaper and proud surf fanatic, wasted no time in tossing both his small children into the nippy waters of the remote northern Californian alcove they called home. Early in her life Ginger was inducted into an alternative niche of surf culture that views frozen toes and murky water as a small price to pay to do what you love. In each new stage of her life, surfing has persisted as a source of joy and self-confidence.
Upon finishing high school Ginger gleefully pranced down the coast to the much more populated beaches of Santa Barbara and four years later she obtained her degree in Global and International Studies. Since graduating from UCSB in 2013, Ginger has led a vagabond-like existence, but you can usually find her either in her forested hometown or Berkeley, CA. When she isn’t submerged in water, she likes drinking coffee on porches with her friends and writing stories. A chance encounter with a friend on an icy beach in 2014 landed her an instructor position with Surf With Amigas and she couldn’t be more elated to be leaving her wetsuit behind for a few months in warm water.
Emily Nanninga – Surf Instructor
Born and raised in sunny San Diego, Emily grew up loving the beach, the water, and anything outdoors. So, naturally, when her mother brought home a $10 garage-sale surfboard in the summer of 2005, Emily was hooked, ready to terrorize the San Diego beaches with her mother who, thankfully, decided to pick up surfing again after a 20-year hiatus.
After graduating from high school, Emily’s love of swimming, surfing, and the ocean led her into a lifeguard tower, working the beaches every summer throughout college. During the UCSB school year, she kept herself busy surfing, rock climbing, and, beginning her third year there, working for UCSB Adventure Programs, where she led outdoor camping and backpacking trips and helped teach rock climbing, kayaking, and canyoneering classes. The years flew by until June of 2014 suddenly came, ending her time at UCSB with a tarred surfboard and an Environmental Studies degree. Upon graduating, she spent the rest of the year lifeguarding, surfing, leading camping trips, and having fun running around the west coast. Now Emily’s excited to start the new year off in Nicaragua with Surf with Amigas!
Helina Beck - Surf Instructor
You may have guessed from the last name - Helina is Holly’s little sister. Separated by ten years in age, Holly and Helina didn’t spend a whole lot of close time growing up, and yet they are the most similar of the five Beck girls. Most recently Helina started her own business – WaveHuggers – teaching surf lessons in Southern California. In her own words: “Ever since I was little, I had an obsession for the beach. I would spend hours sun bathing with my toes in the sand, lying in the shallow water while allowing the tide to roll me back and forth, and frolicking in the waves. My oldest sister, Holly introduced me to the sport when I was about 8 years old. After a summer full of long days spent at the beach with Holly sharing her skills and love for the sport, I was hooked. Since then, I have surfed in many exotic places, including Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Hawaii and more.
I also joined the competitive surf team in high school and am currently on the surf team at California State University, San Marcos. I decided to combine my surfing and teaching skills about 5 years ago, when I started teaching surf lessons. I have worked at camps for kids, and taught private lessons. I spent the summer of 2010 in Nicaragua, where I worked with Surf With Amigas and got to teach the underprivileged local kids how to surf. Bringing joy to these kids was a satisfying experience I will never forget. My love for surfing and the ocean gets me in the water every day, and motivates me to share with others the magical feeling of riding a wave and being one with the ocean.”
Corinne Clegg – Surf Instructor
As a young girl, I started swimming almost right when I could walk. I’ve had a weird obsession with water from then on, always swimming constantly in my pool, or the lake where I spent a lot of my childhood. To this day, I’m in a pool, Jacuzzi, or the ocean at least once a day. I was truly a water baby from day one. I started surfing at age eight and fell in love with the surf. People would call me “smiley” because no matter what I was doing I wouldn’t stop smiling. On top of that, I was very competitive at a young age and would constantly try to race kids in the ocean and pool. I did junior lifeguards for years which was extremely competitive and I would surf for hours and get chili cheese fries or mexican food every day of summer as a treat to myself for working hard.
I joined the surf team at Huntington Beach High with my 3 best girl friends and in the mornings we woke up threw our surf stuff together, goofed around and cheered each other on to catch waves. It was great. After surfing, we ate donuts and big breakfasts and then would all nap at my house before school. There probably wasn’t one day I came to school without salty wet hair. We were living the life of “blue crush” and I have to admit I was obsessed with the movie and their lives so I was always having fun. In college I competed on the Long Beach Surf Team before I decided to study abroad in Italy to immerse myself in a completely different culture.
Working with Surf With Amigas is a dream come true. I love the kind of mentality of “no matter what it’s all good and were going to conquer our fears and have fun.” The idea of teaching other girls to surf and help them through the process I went through really excites me. That way girls like me can find other girls to surf with at home to live the grungy beach life style, as well as share the fun with others. There’s nothing that would make me more happy than to help people learn and believe in themselves.
Chloe Buckley - Surf Instructor
Chloe Buckley grew up in Del Mar, California. She started surfing in grade school and fell in love with the sport. If you couldn’t find her at school that was usually because the waves were good and she always showed up to everything with wet hair. She began competing at the end of high school. In June 2010, at age 19, she won the Surfing America National Championship. From there she joined her college surf team and took first place in the state and third in the nation.
She spent the next 2 years traveling and got to compete in a few ASP events in Australia and Peru. Now she’s back in school and looking to figure out what direction is the right one. During the summer she teaches a group of young girls between the ages of 5-10 to surf. “I love teaching these young girls how to surf. It’s a great feeling to help them get over their fears of the ocean and help show them they can do it all on their own.” In her free time she likes to draw and paint and absolutely loves live music. Sun, sand and surf remain her priority and spreading STOKE will always be a part of her daily activities.
Victor Herrera – Film Guy, board-loader, and all around hero.
Victor started out as a smiling local surfer who offered to help carry a few boards down during our very first retreat back in 2010. From there he has become a good friend and now officially part of our team. He is incredibly helpful, super nice, with a big smile and awesome surf moves. He does the filming during retreats and makes cocktails in the evening. He’s working on his English and understands way more than you think!