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Making a difference alongside Switchfoot

[img_assist|nid=1372|title=Jon and Tim at the auction acoustic set|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=135|height=197]"When you're around the Switchfoot guys you just want to do something more, be better."  - Kip Locke, BRO-AM co-director

I agree.

I read that quote from an online interview with Kip soon after I had attended the 5th annual BRO-AM event, held at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, California on Saturday June 27th.  But not only had I attended the event, I had also helped work the event.  And by the end of the day, I was speechless.

Each year Switchfoot, in order to give back to the community where they live, decides what local organization will benefit from the affair.  This year the guys continued their relationship with local chapters of Stand Up for Kids, a group of mostly volunteers who makes a difference in the lives of at-risk, homeless and street kids.  BRO-AM is a benefit involving live music, a surfing contest, and more.  It also included an auction a few days before, and an after-party to end the day's activities.

My trip to the west coast started in my head as a means to hang out with some friends and fellow Switchfoot fans that I have met at many shows over the years.  People of all ages come from all over to work alongside other volunteers both local and from a far.  I shared two connecting hotel rooms with folks from Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington.  We also hung out with people from California, Indiana, Florida, Illinois, Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Louisiana. 

Plans for some begin as soon as the previous event ends each year.  After hearing of the great fun had by all, I was bound and determined to attend this year and I eagerly awaited the date to be announced.  But soon there was a wrench thrown into the works.  The function, previously held in May or early June, was moved to the end of June, at the same time as the Creation East music festival. 

Now, may I mention here that most folks ask me, "Are you going to Creation this year?" and I quickly respond, "Is the sky blue?"  Other than when the festival has been canceled due to rain, I haven't missed Creation in ... forever.  Most folks were amazed at my decision to attend BRO-AM this year, which did not come easy.  I was back and forth until I finally locked in my plane flight sometime in May.

I knew deep down inside that I was meant to go to BRO-AM this ye[img_assist|nid=1371|title=BRO-AM Merch|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=240|height=163]ar, but it still felt weird.  I announced my decision on Facebook with mixed emotions from my fellow Creation volunteers.  Hearing the news a week before, Tim Foreman, bass player for Switchfoot, remarked how thankful he was that I was giving up the Creation fest as he knows how much it means to me.  In the end, this became kind of fun as throughout my time in the San Diego area, I was comparing the fest and BRO-AM with Tim.  The sand on the beach was clearly the easiest difference in comparison to the dust and/or mud of Agape Farm.  One obvious difference for me was the use of solar powered energy for the stage.  This works in southern California.

Though I helped out selling event T-shirts for a good part of the day, I also took my stage security experience to the west coast while various local bands and artists played throughout the day, with Switchfoot closing the evening.  So maybe it was not much different than attending Creation after all.

[img_assist|nid=1370|title=Tim Foreman- Surf Joisting|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=163|height=239]Sure, I would have volunteered at Creation as well, but at the end of a very full and long day, I could not explain the feeling that overwhelmed me.  (And no, it was not the fact that I had not put on enough sunscreen.)  Ok, maybe I could have just taken the money for the hotel and air fare and donated the same amount to Stand Up for Kids.  Yet there was something inexplicably rewarding about the whole experience out there.  Perhaps it was meeting and hearing from some of the kids whose lives were changed because of the organization.  Maybe it was working alongside folks from all over with the same goal in mind.  

Weeks later I still can't describe the way I felt at the end of the day.  But I do know that I was truly meant to be there.  And, I want to do something more.