Surf participants at the 13th annual Switchfoot Bro-Am 

Surf participants at the 13th annual Switchfoot Bro-Am 

Photo credit: Lauren Wilson

Another summer means another year of Switchfoot’s massive festival, the Switchfoot Bro-Am, which marries surfing, music, and art into a day-long charity event. As tradition goes, the event will take place at Encinitas’ Moonlight Beach, and the proceeds from the event will go to helping disadvantaged youth in San Diego County.

Switchfoot is no stranger to the San Diego community, as they are known to get down and dirty to work directly with charities. We got to speak with Drew Shirley, guitarist of Switchfoot, about the Bro-Am, and its now 14-year history.

“Yeah Bro-Am is a teenager, that is great.” Shirley begins, “We are bigger and better than ever. This event started way back as a vision to do something positive for our community and to make an impact locally. The community has rallied around it and it’s become something bigger than the band. It involves lots of local businesses and collaborations with people who are like-minded and it's awesome. It’s an honor to be a part of it for us we feel like it’s something that we facilitate and we were just the catalyst for the community to step up and do something to help out those in need and there’s a lot of people with that same heart involved. We're just stoked to put it on for everybody.”

As many in the local scene know, the Switchfoot Bro-Am is rooted in giving back to the community. The day will begin with the Rob Machado Junior Surf contest, where young surfers will get the opportunity to face off against each other in a competition. Machado, a former professional surfer, is well known in the community as he uses his voice and foundation to ensure clean drinking water for youth, and teaches them to make sustainable choices that affect the environment for today's and future generations.

Things actually kick off before the Bro-Am, as a benefit charity takes place on June 28th at a to-be-disclosed location that allows patrons to bid on items and events, which in the past have included trips to Costa Rica, wine tours and more. MC’d by Shirley himself as well as local legend Chris Cote, it’s a great way to get together with like-minded individuals in an event dedicated to helping others.

Machado isn’t the only non-Switchfoot member that can volunteer, of course. Shirley, speaking to our readers, encourages anyone who wants to get involved within the Bro-Am. “You can get involved, there’s lots of ways to get involved. You can go on BroAm.org… There’s lots of opportunities for people to get involved. And it feels so good to get out of your own comfort zone and own little life and realize that there are other people that need that you can help and that’s what the Bro-Am is all about.”

Another thing one can expect at the Bro-Am is a surf competition complete with the guys of Switchfoot facing off against locals and professionals alike. To even the playing field, the surfers will be judged on their ability to ride a wide in their natural stance, and then forced to go switch foot (where the band derives its name, also the term in surfing for when the rider surfs with their back foot in front). To keep competitions fun and fresh, members of the band and people from the community square off in a surf jousting competition, where the participants will attempt to knock each other off waves using giant combat sticks a la American Gladiator.

The day will cap off with a concert on the beach, which through the years have seen artists like Jason Mraz, OK Go and American Authors grace the stage. This year, Sure Sure, Colony House, and the 91X winner of Battle for the Bro-Am will open up the show before Switchfoot hits the stage in the only San Diego performance of 2018. Shirley explains, “All the bands playing at the Bro-Am are volunteering their time. They usually charge to play, but they are giving away their performance to support the event. So they are also donating right with everybody else. We are really thankful for that. We appreciate all the bands that have played over the years.”

It's not just the bands and volunteers giving back. Local businesses are offering their time and resources to come out to the Bro-Am, and they too will be donating the money made to the foundation.

“You have no idea how many people in business sacrifice for this event,” Shirley says, always quick to praise everyone involved. “They give up their money they give thousands of dollars because they believe in helping others and they’re sacrificing for. They’re giving to others to help them. It’s inspiring, the whole thing is inspiring, it’s like a synergy of positive doing good and showing love and it's contagious and we hope people who come to the bro am catch that.”

Since the Bro-Am’s conception, Switchfoot has raised more than $1,000,000 for the foundation.

“We’ve seen lives change. I’ve sat with the kids, some of them were on the street, and they come to the Bro-am and they get treated like a king because it’s a celebration of their lives. We tell them “your lives matter, you’re a person, you’re valuable, you’re made well you’ve been dealt some difficult situations but we care about you.”

It’s no surprise that the boys of Switchfoot are inspirations for people around the world. Through their music, surfing, or philanthropy, they are often held in high esteem. But what inspires them?

“We have a deep belief and faith in love and hope and that just doesn’t run out. It’s something that has inspired us from the moment we came in contact as a band. Loving others and having hope is first something you have to receive yourself and then you can give it out to other people. I just say you can tell when somebody has a love for other people. We haven’t figured everything out, but I just know that’s the right direction to go and that’s what feels right, is right, and what resonates with us.”

Be a part of the Bro-Am on June 30th at Encinitas Moonlight Beach.