Best Local SUP Instructors: Jon Ory
Jon Ory has made adventure part of his life. And the South Carolina instructor has made sure to pass that on to his students, too.
After college, Ory spent fifteen years working as an English-as-a-second-language teacher and took advantage of his schedule, spending summers and holidays surfing and working in various countries across the world. The travel bug brought him to New Zealand where he spent two years as an outdoor educator and surf/kayak instructor. Because he surfed, the company he worked for figured he should be the paddleboard teacher as well. So, with no experience under his belt, Ory took a group of high school students out for a lesson.
“I literally thought about how I would do it and then I pretty much just faked it,” he says. “They did awesome, we were doing handstands, back flips and everything off the boards. It was a really positive first experience.”
Shortly after, Ory returned home and with his teaching experience and newfound love for SUP, opened Charleston’s very first paddleboard shop, SUP Safaris. “After that first experience in New Zealand I said, ‘This is a niche, this is something I want to do and most importantly, I want to be the first paddleboard company in Charleston, South Carolina.’”
SUP Safaris offers yoga and fitness classes, flat water and surfing lessons, charity races, and Ory’s personal favorite, eco-tours. During the tour, students get an on-shore lesson, then they hit the water where they experience all the beauty and wildlife of Charleston’s waterways. Environmental conservation and stewardship is important to Ory. He tries to relay this sentiment to his clients.
“The idea of environmentalism just had to do with the fact that we were out in nature,” he says. “It made sense that if we were going to talk to people about the natural surroundings, we also wanted to add an element of how to take care of it so that it will be around for a long time to come.”
More than anything, Ory loves the idea of getting people excited about being outside. “To give a kid or a student the opportunity to go outside, try a sport, be successful at it, and hopefully open their eyes to something that they’ll continue to do for the rest of their life is the number one goal.” –RP
This article originally ran in our 2014 Beginner’s Guide as “Local Knowledge.”
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