When Jimmy started Pure Surfing Experience (PSE) in the summer of 1997, he had been preparing for a year. He spent part of the year learning to code, so he could offer classes online. That in itself was not expected of a “Spicoli-looking Surfer Dude.” He carefully created a website with colorful photos of kids surfing at his contests, he wrote a mission statement, personal bio and offered information about surfing in general. He shared where to go in Manhattan Beach for equipment, and which places offered the best discounts. He wanted to include his friends and mentors who had guided him from a sandy grom to a young man starting his own business. I think the key word here is “include.”
He called the local press and reached out to Charlie Saikley, the head of the Manhattan Beach Recreation Department and long-time sports coach and friend. By the second year of business, thanks to much hard work and professionalism, and at Saikley’s recommendation, Pure Surfing Experience became the “Official Surf School of Manhattan Beach,” and handled all the surf classes that the city offered. Local surf companies that sponsored Jim as a competitive surfer offered to sponsor PSE and include recommendations for PSE, and he was off to a great start.
And then there was the equipment! Tents and all sizes of surfboards, rashguards, and leashes, had to be purchased and stored. At the time, Jim was living in a bathroom-sized apartment on 43rd Street called the “Cave.” So of course, we offered a corner of our garage and that was the beginning of the June ritual of “equipment day!”
Every year in early June, Jimmy and his growing staff of groms: Mark G, Tommy O, Ryan P, Keith W, John K, Anthony, brother Jeff and so many more, would lug all the equipment out of our garage, and on to the driveway. Buckets, towels, boards, chairs, tents, coolers, and cases of unused water would be lined up and catalogued. They would hose everything down and the sand and grime would float down our hill, to return to the ocean. At some point, there would always be a huge water fight with Jimmy and our front windows getting the worst of it from his group of groms. He loved this day so much, because it would signal the start of summer and his chance to share his stoke and passion with a new generation of surfers. It was always really about the Pure Surfing Experience in his heart, even after he wisely bought the URL’s of Camp Surf, Camp Volley, Camp Yoga and Camp Skate. June was a month of new beginnings for Jim each year.
Just one more thought about inclusion. Throughout his life, Jimmy was an “includer.” A family trait perhaps, but he loved to be surrounded by friends and family. As he grew up, he included his surfer friends, college buddies and friends from his travels around the world. He started PSE to include as many others as possible in the charmed surf life that gave him so much joy. Through his work, he was able to include his colleagues from the surf industry who would benefit from being included as sponsors. It was always about sharing the stoke with others.
When he suffered his break-down, he pulled away from everyone and everything that had been included in his life. His world got smaller and he excluded those who be believed were out to harm him. The world of delusion does that to you. For us, in hindsight, the clues were there. We just were too blind or too shocked to realize what they meant in the greater scheme of things in the whirlwind of that last summer.
And finally, when we moved from 524, our garage looked so strange and empty without the scores of boards, tents and equipment that had lodged in one small corner and ended up taking up more than half of that cement garage space. The name on the equipment changed over the years, from Pure Surfing Experience to Camp Surf and then to the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation. I know this for sure: Jimmy’s spirit continued to touch every sandy tent, rashguard and board that was ever stored there. And today, some of those very items are included, somewhere in the JMMF storage space in El Segundo! Ahhh, June!
PS. June is also PTSD Awareness month. Please take a moment to read the information included in this newsletter. We work with Marines and Vets with PTSD and surfing has been shown to help symptoms of this terrible and debilitating syndrome. For those of us with PTSD, the moments of “pure surfing,” can change the course of a day. If you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, please reach out. Our Ocean Therapy sessions can make a huge difference in your life. You may not have any idea that the person sitting next to you in our “sharing circle” is suffering from PTSD, but I want to let you know that you are not alone.