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Stacey’s Surf & Paddle is a Surf Camp that’s Turning the Tide

Originally published in New Jersey Monthly


Pro surfer and instructor Cassidy McClain with student Ellie Pallidino on the beach in Margate.

Much like a wave barreling toward the shore, Stacey Marchel’s surf camp has been picking up momentum every summer.

Although she grew up near the beach in Margate, Marchel is a late bloomer when it comes to surfing. It wasn’t until she had turned 36 that she first paddled out into the ocean with her sons, Cameron and Spencer (now 19 and 21). Smitten, she began honing her skills, but quickly found that surfing lessons were not easily available at the Shore. She decided to turn the proverbial tide and offer coaching to children and adults in her hometown.

She officially launched Stacey’s Surf & Paddle in 2008. Marchel, who had been a stay-at-home mom, was going through a divorce at the time. “I needed to reinvent myself and do something with my life that I was passionate about,” she says.

These days, Marchel and her team of about 40 professional instructors teach 500 to 600 adults and kids each season. Lessons include ocean safety, basic techniques and surfing etiquette. (Private lessons run $65; semi-private $50 per student. Marchel also offers three- and five-day kids’ camps and stand-up paddleboard lessons on Margate’s back bay.)

As one of the few female surf instructors on the Jersey Shore, Marchel encourages women to try the sport by providing a judgment-free zone. “I find that women often think that everyone is watching them on the beach,” says Marchel. “Many are self-conscious about how they look in a bathing suit. Often it’s intimidating to walk into a surf shop for the first time. So we provide a welcoming environment where we tell you to let go of all that stuff.”

From surfing, Marchel has learned that life is about going with the flow. “Surfing has positively impacted my life in so many ways,” she says. “It’s made me more independent and taught me to experience an inner peace and a deep joy. It’s a feeling of pure happiness that tells you that everything’s going to be okay.”

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