Never say "never." Don't be afraid to fall.
We’re separated into groups of three, assigned an instructor, and given white rash guards (long-sleeved shirts equipped with SPF 50 that help protect the skin). First, we learn some basics on the beach. Surfboards are laid out in rows, and we lie on them and learn how to “pop up.” This is the move that takes you from lying on the board to standing on it. This is when I learn I’m a Goofy Foot, the term for a surfer who pops up and puts his or her right foot forward. Apparently, Goofy Foot is not a hereditary condition. Jacob is regular footed (he puts his left foot forward).
Then it’s time to hit the water. Our instructor, Doug Carroll, leads Jacob, Michael (a 12-year-old from Atlanta), and me out to the surf and chooses waves for us. He gives each of us a push to help us gain momentum until we’re stronger paddlers. Each time, Doug yells, “Paddle, paddle, paddle! Stand up!” And within the first few tries, amazingly, we all get up on our boards.