event details

event details

gettin’ ready

Our volunteers and community are SO EXCITED to work with your loved ones! Our volunteers often share how much your loved ones have changed THEIR lives and impacted THEM! So… thank you for trusting your loved ones with us and we will see you soon!

Below is some information about the event you need to read through to be prepared. Grab a cup a coffee, settle in, and let the reading adventure begin…

July 23 – Thursday

aquarium open house

We cannot recommend this event enough!

The atmosphere is very calming. The experience is provided by the NC Aquarium and staff from 5:30pm-7:30pm to offer an exclusive opportunity for our families and volunteers to feel relaxed and valued. The aquarium is being opened for SFA and for SFA only! Pretty cool!! NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island is located at 374 Airport Rd, Manteo, NC 27954.

July 24 – Friday

meet & greet

This is a time that we all come together, understand, and empathize with all that autism is and how it can manifest. Please know that you and your family are welcome and should there be a meltdown, excitement, sensory needs, ANYTHING – you are among others who understand. Do not allow this to keep you from attending!

We had a very special event t-shirt in 2019 to mark SFA’s 10th anniversary. It sold out pretty quick so we’ve printed some more. Grab one before they’re gone. We also have other NEW 2020 stuff for sale on the boardwalk outside of the pier.

The Meet & Greet will begin at 5:30pm in Jennette’s Pier’s upstairs banquet room. Our families can enter in the pier by walking up the pier’s left ramp and entering the entrance on the left side of the pier. You’ll be able to check in and then head upstairs for a very casual dinner.

free surfboard raffle

A surfboard was donated again this year to raffle off to our participants free of cost! Every registered participant will have their name placed in the hat Friday night. Please let us know if you DO NOT wish to participate in the raffle. You don’t have to be present to win.

other raffles

We have some other items to raffle at the Meet & Greet. The value of these items are significant so we are asking for $5 per ticket, $10 for three. We have an ADDITIONAL surfboard to raffle off that will cost $10 per raffle ticket for this one item.

Place your ticket(s) in the bucket(s) coinciding with the item(s) you hope to win. We ask you put your name and cell phone on the back of each ticket. We’ll draw the winning tickets at 7pm while everyone is fishing/”sand surfing”.  We will text the winners to come and collect the items they won.

siblings get to fish

Around 6:30pm, when dinner, recognitions, and awards wrap up, siblings will have the opportunity to go fishing on the pier for free. This experience is one of the unique offerings of Surfing for Autism.

surfing on the sand

Around 6:30pm, while the siblings head out to fish, the video social story will be played for our loved ones on the spectrum and then we’ll head down to the beach. This is an opportunity for kids to get accustomed to the surfboard, practice standing on a board, etc. This will be ON LAND. We’ll get in the water on Saturday. This time is also a great opportunity for our families to relax and mingle.

July 25 – Saturday

weather policy

Weather on the Outer Banks changes every few minutes so we’ll be monitoring it closely near the day of the surfing event. Because safety is our primary concern, if the weather or surf conditions dictate a change in start time, end time, location, or any other event detail, we will communicate those changes on our homepage.

If weather should complicate the event, we appreciate your flexible spirit. Because of the massive numbers of small details, volunteers needing to be coordinated, and the event’s temporal proximity to the beginning of school for so many, if we need to cancel the Saturday event – we will not be able to reschedule the event for a later date.

Read more about our weather policy.

what to wear

We have lifejackets available for everyone and a limited number of fullsuit wetsuits (long-sleeves/long-legs), springsuit wetsuits (short-sleeves/short-legs), and rashguards available to borrow in the Meeting Area Tent.

On a personal note (from Eileen)… having a daughter participate as a surfer and being a woman who attempts to surf, I have found it’s beneficial to wear boardshorts and a rashguard since bathing suits can shift on the board and when the unfortunate fall happens in the water. We’ll have rashguards available for purchase at Jennette’s Pier if you want a SFA rashguard to keep.

social story

You can find a social story video below to help your loved one (and even yourself) know what to expect.


Please plan for enough time to find parking. Jennette’s Pier has parking but there are also other places to park. Some of these places require you walk across the street to get to the pier. Please be careful crossing the street. Consider unloading your gear at the pier and then have one member of your group park and walk back.

arrival & checkin

Do not check in at the Participant Registration tent earlier than 20 minutes before your surfing heat time.

If you arrive or check in early, we have an Activities tent where you can create huge poster board signs with words of encouragement and/or engage in activities until time to check in at the Meeting Area tent.

5-minutes prior to the surfing heat time you may go to the Meeting Area tent to have the participant fitted for a lifejacket .


The therapeutic worker will pick up your loved-one at the Meeting Area tent. Keep in mind that our water volunteers are coming in from prior heats, organizing and preparing for their next heat, and reading your registration form so they can help transitions be as smooth as possible.

Please, only registered participants in the water.

Should your involvement be requested by the surfers or therapeutic professionals, please limit it to one family member in the water because the surfing area will be crowded. Only the registered participant is able to surf for a variety of reasons. Thank you for your understanding.


Snacks, drinks, and lunch are available for free on the beach at the Food and Beverages tent. Lunch will be at 1:00pm-ish after all the surfing heats are completed so families and volunteers can eat together.

Please come and have a great time! Our food has been set up for families and volunteers but we would love for friends and supporters to come, cheer on the kids, connect with families and enjoy the activities. Please, feel free to invite friends!


We have an Activities tent available for kids to play in during the event but please make sure your children are supervised at all times.

sensory overload

For those that are experiencing sensory overload or overheated, we have found it feels at least 5 degrees cooler underneath Jennette’s Pier. Inside Jennette’s Pier is a small aquarium… and it’s air-conditioned.

See you soon!