Meet Our Friends: Laru Beya Collective

Meet Our Friends: Laru Beya Collective

People 02.21.23

Surfing is part of the Faherty way of life, with a rich and storied origin story that traces back centuries across Polynesia, South America, and Africa. An organization we’re inspired by that is transforming the sport in New York City for Black and Brown youth in the Queens neighborhood of Far Rockaway is Laru Beya Collective. Founded in 2018 by Aydon Gabourel, the Collective is rooted in community and dedicated to empowering the area’s young people through year-round mentor-led activities, after a long history of exclusion due to economics, environmental racism and segregation.

“In 2017, my 9 year old daughter caught the surf bug,” Aydon tells us. “Two things jumped out at me immediately—surfing was too expensive for me to enroll her in a camp or to get her multiple lessons and I also noticed that even though my community was diverse, surfing was not. I wanted to create a space where other children in Rockaway would not be excluded because of their financial situation or because they felt out of place.”

Years later, the Laru Beya Collective is an intrinsic part of the Far Rockaway community, with incredible stories of mentees-turned-mentors like that of Farmata Dia. “I was always surrounded by mentors who felt like older siblings I could look up to,” she says. “I was able to create new memories and grow in a safe space with my peers. My transition from mentee to mentor was more of me finding my place in the team instead of filling a role. That’s one of the special things about Laru Beya.”

Below, hear from the Laru Beya Collective team about their favorite things about the work they do, the impact they’ve seen from the Collective’s work in Far Rockaway, and more.


What’s your favorite thing about the work you do with the Collective thus far?

“The best part of my work is our summer surf sessions. I'm a middle-aged dad that gets to hang out on the beach all day instead of being stuck in an office. The smile on my daughter’s face after catching that first wave back in 2017 is unforgettable. I get to relive that moment over and over again every time a new mentee rides their first wave.”


What led you to want to work with the Laru Beya Collective?

“I learned about the Laru Beya Collective through my IG search for a local BIPOC surf group. In 2019, I decided to volunteer at one of their surf sessions, and have been with the collective ever since.” 

What impact have you seen the organization have on the community in Far Rockaway since you began? 

“Since I’ve begun with the Laru Beya Collective, I’ve seen the diversification in the lineup, and experienced a beautiful community of diverse surfers who support and inspire one another come into existence. It’s my dream that’s come to life!”

What’s your favorite thing about working with the Collective thus far?

“My favorite thing is witnessing the pure joy and love our mentees have for the outdoors. Whether it’s catching waves in Far Rockaway or bouldering in Central Park, they don’t want their time outdoors to ever end! And my absolute favorite thing is hearing a couple of our younger mentees talk about their dream of becoming surf instructors.”

How do you believe working with a brand like Faherty will help the organization thrive this year?

“I believe working with a brand like Faherty will assist us in thriving through raising awareness about our collective, highlighting our initiatives, financial support, and promoting volunteer participation. This partnership has the potential to help us expand access to outdoor recreation, and to grow support for our efforts in environmental stewardship.”


What led you to want to volunteer with the Laru Beya Collective? 

“I decided to volunteer my time after witnessing the impact that representation had on the kids in the program. My daughter is also a part of the program, and her confidence in the water and love for the ocean have grown tremendously thanks to the good humans in the organization. Growing up playing hockey and freestyle rollerblading made me feel like something was wrong with what I was doing, because the representation a little Black boy from Harlem needed didn’t exist. I’m happy to be a part of the change.”

What’s your favorite thing about working with the Collective thus far? 

“Seeing myself in all of the kids we work with and recognizing how important these moments are. Having access to a sport like surfing isn’t normal for kids in underserved communities. It’s unfamiliar, and they don’t typically see adults that look like them in marketing or most media around the sport, so showing up for them is vital. If I can open up a kid's perspective and help them see the world a bit brighter than they did yesterday even if it’s only for a few minutes, then sign me up.”


What led you to want to work with the Laru Beya Collective? And how have you seen the organization evolve and grow since you began?

“I started volunteering with Laru Beya after seeing a call for volunteer photographers. I had never surfed before in my life and was terrified of the ocean, but I was immediately drawn to their mission of making the outdoors safe and accessible for Black, Brown and POC people. Despite my fears, after just a few weeks of seeing kids crushing it out in the water, I gave surfing a shot and have been hooked ever since. 

That was two years ago, and already the Collective has grown and evolved so much. What started as a group of young girls surfing has turned into a full-fledged Collective of mentees and mentors. We’re expanding our programming in climbing, art workshops and more, and we’re constantly dreaming up new opportunities to best serve our community. As Aydon puts it, we want to be a one-stop-shop for anything our mentees may need to grow into well-rounded and confident adults. It’s a really exciting time as we’re hard at work to identify our community’s needs and find more funding to make this all possible.”

What’s your favorite thing about working with the Collective thus far?

“Laru Beya is by far the most joyful, supportive and vibrant community in my life. It’s taken me years of living in the city to find such warm and brilliant people. This Collective has truly become my found family. And it’s been the most rewarding thing to see kids as young as 8 and 9 rappelling off cliffs or popping up on their surfboard for the first time. In just a few months, we get to see them grow in both ability and confidence. Wherever we go both in the water and the mountains, we’re rewriting the narrative of who belongs in the outdoors.” 

How do you believe working with a brand like Faherty will help the organization thrive this year?

“We are so grateful to be working with Faherty because it’s clear this company truly believes in what Laru Beya is doing. It’s been wonderful to see so many members of the Faherty crew come out to volunteer and engage directly with our community and work. As we look to grow and evolve as an organization, it is invaluable to do so alongside partners who work with us to reach our goals in an open-minded and sustained way.”


What's your favorite thing about working with the Collective thus far?

“My favorite thing about working with the collective is the community you gain from it. All the important people in my life are folks I’ve worked with in Laru Beya. There’s always someone new to meet during beach clean ups, collaborations, and fundraisers.”

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