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Surfrider looks to become OCSC

(Jan. 17, 2014) The chairman of Ocean City’s Surfrider Foundation is going back to grassroots, soon splintering from the national environmental group he’s called home for 14 years to found the Ocean City Surf Club.

The two non-profits have analogous “for surfing, by surfing” mantras, Shelly Dawson said, but the OCSC will have a hyper-local focus, allowing it to stretch beyond Surfriders’ environmental message to any groups in need in Ocean City.

“We’ll raise as much as we can and give back,” Dawson said. “It’s going to be all about Ocean City, all the time.”

Membership in the Maryland Surfrider chapter is approaching 600, the chairman explained. At that size and with a national scope, “they maybe miss things that we, as locals, want.”

That’s where the OCSC comes in.

Combining a love for waves with community service, the group “is like a surfing Parrot Heads (Club),” Dawson said. “They raise money for good causes and have fun doing it.”

He already has a few ideas for the OCSC’s inaugural projects — anything from scholarship startups for local seniors to pouring funds into the Life-Saving Station Museum — and some thoughts on how to fund them.

“If you can get a good member base, and a repeat member base, that’ll be where your basic funding and budgeting will come from,” he said. And with a membership fee around $25 a year, he thinks the club will draw a strong core of Ocean City residents as well as visitors.

OCSC fundraisers in the works include the well-known long board competition Dawson has organized through the Surfrider Foundation in the past and a golf tournament, he said.

Some local restaurateurs have already contacted him to get involved in funding the fledgling club, too.

The key will be getting locals to guide the direction of the club as it gets off the ground this spring, though, Dawson said. “I don’t want it to be me writing checks. I want it to be the Ocean City community.”

He’s looking for founding members to join the OCSC steering committee and help write its bylaws. Those interested should email him at lgbrdr@yahoo.com.

“It’s our way of giving back for all the good times we’ve had down here,” said Dawson, who’s been riding the waves here since he was 13.

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