Surf Bus Crosses Culture Gap

A "Surf Bus" student gets a lesson in balancing on the board in MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles.
A new program shuttles inner city kids from crime-ridden MacArthur Park in downtown Los Angeles to the ocean so they can become part of Southern California's most popular pastime and learn to surf, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes.

The Surf Bus shuttles aspiring young wave surfers from their neighborhoods to the beaches of Santa Monica.

"Most of these kids – 70 percent – don't even get to the beach," says Larry Mellon, an employee of the Los Angeles City Recreation and Parks Department.

It may take all summer for the participants just to learn how to stand up. Their instructors hope their lessons in surfing translate into lessons for life.

"Anyone can do it. It has nothing to do with the color. Has nothing to do with your neighborhood. It just takes someone with tenacity," says instructor Nicole Goodwin.

It also takes ambition - one thing these wave riders are not lacking. Aspiring surfer Amy Morishita says, "I want to be able to go out, deep, deep, deep inside the ocean and see how to go out and ride the biggest wave, the tallest wave."

There have been problems with cultural differences. "Some Hispanic kids don't want to take their jeans off," says Russ Lesser, a program sponsor. "We've had drownings where they'll fall in a hole and the jeans then become like a sea anchor and drag them down."

Surf instructor Mary Setterholm says, "Wherever you are, if you feel it in your heart that you want to go out and be part of waves, come on out and be part of waves."