By Sharon Mager, BCMD Correspondent
Bobby “Salty” Selt could be a poster boy for a Beach Boys’ song. He’s blonde, tanned, laid back and has a friendly smile. He owns and manages a surf shop called “Endless Summer.” He loves the ocean, the surf, the sand, his wife Kelly and son Noah, and he loves Jesus.
Selt, a member of Ocean City Baptist Church, partnered with OCBC in offering a free surf camp this summer as a ministry. He donates the 40 boards and his time every Wednesday night. It’s a hit, especially for young adults. There are so many participants that Selt has to give two classes, and surfers have to take turns with the boards.
Selt’s first encounter with OCBC was in the early 80’s. He grew up in a church of another denomination and became curious about the teaching of other churches. He visited several, but OCBC made had the biggest impact.
“There was a young blonde haired guy there named Terry Davis. I thought, ‘This is really different,’” Selt says. He was intrigued. “But life got busy, you know how it is.”
Fast forward three decades. In 2011, Selt’s ten-year-old son Noah was playing Upward soccer. A friendly young coach began chatting with Selt and asked him where he went to church and how he was doing. Selt shared that Ocean City Baptist Church was the only church that left a strong impression on him.
The coach turned to Selt, smiling, and said, “My name is Sean Davis. I’m the pastor of Ocean City Baptist. Terry Davis is my father. Why don’t you stop in?”
Selt, his wife, Kelly and son, Noah, visited and “fell in love” with the church and staff. They became members and were baptized in the ocean, along with 12 others, right in front of his surf shop on 38th Street.
Shortly after the Selt family joined the church, Sean Davis and Troy Chute, OCBC’s worship leader, came to Selt for surf lessons. As they spent time together, the men began brainstorming ways to reach the locals, tourists, and the thousands of international students that flood the beach town each summer. Selt suggested a surf night.
The first free lessons brought over 30 participants and each week it grows.
Sean Davis greets wannabe surfers, shares about the church, and everyone “takes a knee” to pray.
“Taking a knee,” is what Noah Selt dubbed the prayer time he and his dad always have immediately before taking off with their boards.
Selt then takes over and shows the surfers how to assess ocean conditions and has them practice “surfing on the sand.” Of course, he laughs, it doesn’t quite work that easy once the boards hit the waves.”
In the water, it’s a “free for all,” Selt says. But everyone has a good time with plenty of laughs.
Some parents and church members bring their beach chairs, towels and blankets and watch from the beach.
The ministry is having an immediate influence. Two families began attending OCBC as a result of the new ministry.
At one surfing lesson, an international student said she is amazed that everything she learned at home about Christians is wrong. “You’re so nice!” she said.
The lessons and “fun, fun, fun” will continue “all summer long.”