Aydon Gabourel and Warren Sampson are the co-founders of the Laru Beya Collective; the name means “by the beach.” Founded in 2018, Laru Beya is a non-profit mentorship organization dedicated to serving the youth of the Rockaway community.
Through surf lessons, beach clean-ups, and more they’re helping their kids reclaim the place they grew up in. We met the two while shooting our Fall 2020 Collection, and joined up with them one sunny Saturday to participate in one of their clean-ups.
Aydon and Warren are cousins. They both grew up in the Rockaways — Aydon moved from Belize at 9, Warren was born on the peninsula — where they experienced firsthand the stark divide between the people who lived mere blocks from the beaches and the people who were actually spending time in the water.
“Growing up here, we didn’t have access to the beach; the kids who lived here, myself included, couldn’t afford swim lessons, let alone surf lessons,” Warren explained. “Water safety, how to read rips...we didn’t know any of it — we didn’t have access to pools, we didn’t have access to anything.”
The idea for Laru Beya began when Aydon’s daughter expressed an interest in surfing; he quickly realized just how expensive classes could be and began looking for alternative solutions. “We wanted to have a way where people who actually live here could participate in this sport.” Between the two of them, Aydon and Warren eventually decided to make a go of starting their own accessible surfing program for local kids.
Their work begins with teaching kids to feel comfortable in the water, but it encompasses much more. “Representation matters. When you see older people who look like you doing a thing, you feel like you can do it, too.”
Laru Beya also works with organizations like the Surfrider Foundation — longtime Faherty partners — to ensure their kids are thinking about the environment, too. As Aydon explained, where you live affects your life: the air, land, and water all play a role in our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. “A huge part of this is getting these kids involved with the environment. It’s incredibly important to protect your own backyard; otherwise, you’ll suffer when it does.”
It doesn’t stop there, either. Warren is clear on their long-term goal: “We want them to be comfortable, not just in this setting with surfing, but when they’re applying for jobs, when they’re in school, and wherever else they find themselves.” They’re deeply invested in the community, and giving their kids the advantages they didn’t have.
“What brings me joy is being with those kids and seeing them prosper, seeing them do things I did not do when I was their age, seeing them happy, seeing them with money in their pockets, seeing them help their families...despite everything else, that’s what brings me joy.”
— Warren Sampson
Anyone interested in volunteering, in any capacity, can reach out to the Laru Beya team at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch through Instagram @larubeyasurfing.