Perched right on Second Street and Fowler, a grungy black house spells out Ride Nature on the brim. “Surf. Skate. Coffee.”, A sign stamped chic-ly across their window welcomes anyone who dares to take a peak. Ride Nature is much more than a surf and skate shop; it’s also the headquarters of a group of missionaries dedicated to spreading their Christian faith. They do it all. Skate, surf, wakeboard, and conduct mission trips to countries all over the world. Their plan? They want to share their message of faith with Fort Myers locals and beyond. But don’t expect a simple pamphlet, you’ll get to know them as people. They’re interested in helping you land an ollie, all while promoting stable spiritual health.
I dropped by the shop and discovered this is much more than a hipster coffee shop. Three guys sat on the couch, talking and strumming a guitar, making up the words as they went along. Outside, chirps of laughter met with hi-fis. Wheelies kissed the wood ramp, and bro-code was king. They were just having fun.
I got to sit down with Garrett Bockstanz, the Director of Skate Outreach at Ride Nature. He let me know that Ride Nature tries to make a lasting impression on the community by partnering with churches and local non-profits to help carry their missions out to completion.
The organization is 100% support funded. Buy one, give one. Each item purchased from the shop, whether it be a Penny board, a coffee holder, or a cotton tee, will further advance their budget for mission trips. They’ve been to Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and India. It is in these countries and much more that they are planning to conduct mission trips this year.
Garrett told me of the first time he entered a village in Nicaragua – his first mission trip. The town held one skateboard. One. The ‘Riders’ spent the week working with church leaders and preaching. They built a ramp for the town and handed the kids eleven board to share amongst themselves.
But it’s not just beyond the borders that all of the work gets done. Ride Nature goes to about three skate parks a week in the Southwest Florida area, skating and breaking bread with the community.
Ride Nature is bringing light to what may be considered a dark place. Emotionally troubled individuals can often characterize skateboarding and surfing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. People can rip waves and promote a lasting message behind it. To the ends of the Earth, they say.
They are looking for volunteers and hold many events in the area. For more view the video and tell us what you think on Facebook!