Sand sculpting classes offer tips for building better memories

A Panhandle company offers family-friendly instruction in creating better sandcastles.

Kasey Kerr of Beach Sand Sculptures takes a photo of a family that took a class together, creating a 3-foot-high sandcastle with the techniques they learned. [Beach Sand Sculptures photo]
Kasey Kerr of Beach Sand Sculptures takes a photo of a family that took a class together, creating a 3-foot-high sandcastle with the techniques they learned. [Beach Sand Sculptures photo]

We’ve all heard the famous saying, “Build it and they will come.” At Beach Sand Sculptures the saying is, “Build it and they will have fun!”

The Florida Panhandle company is the brainchild of former residential architect Rick Mungeam and his wife Capri, a dynamic duo that rolled with the tide of economic change in 2008 and gave up their Colorado-based business to follow a life of travel and adventure.

Their odyssey took them in late 2010 to South Padre Island, Texas, where Rick was captivated by the art of sand sculpting. He was so good at it that by mid-2011, he and Capri had settled on Florida’s Emerald Coast and turned his new-found talent into a robust business venture.

The basic premise is to teach sandcastle-building skills to kids and adults during two-hour long sessions at the beach.

“We do teach people to make 3½-foot tall sandcastles,” Capri said, “but it’s more about the experience we give to families and how the process bonds everyone together—parents, grandparents, and the children—who all work together to create a masterpiece in the sand, but also a lasting memory.”

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Perfoming detail work on sandcastles is part of the Beach Sand Sculptures instruction. [Beach Sand Sculptures photo]

The sandcastle lessons are offered from Okaloosa Island/Fort Walton Beach through Destin and Miramar Beach and all along the beaches of South Walton and Santa Rosa Beach. It’s one of the most highly sought after activities along the Emerald Coast and has resulted in the hiring of more than 25 “sandcastle coaches,” who give thousands of lessons annually in northwest Florida. The cost starts at $220 for an individual or a group of up to 5 people.

“Every year our team consists of individuals who value the sandcastle lesson experience for vacationing families and understand the unique honor of interacting with families at a special level,” Capri said.

LEARN MORE: Find out more about the lessons at www.beachsandsculptures.com.

A mobile unit comprised of sand castle coaches will meet clients at their resort beach and bring all the tools and equipment necessary to teach “Sandcastle Success,” a course that begins with a demonstration of the tools and their usage. The sandcastle tool kit can be purchased afterwards so guests can continue to practice what they learned.

“In the end, we will create a bit of “sandcastle envy,” on the beach,” Rick said. “It does take some work—shoveling sand, hauling water and following directions, but the results will be amazing!”

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Kasey Kerr of Beach Sand Sculptures teaches a family techniques for making dynamic sand creations. [Beach Sand Sculptures photo]

While the memories may last forever, the life of the sandcastle depends on one factor: the speed at which a sandcastle dries out. Sandcastles are held together by the surface tension of water. When the water dries out, the surface tension is removed and the castle begins to collapse.

On the Emerald Coast, the average life of a sandcastle is nearly a week if it’s left alone. The greatest enemy of any sand sculpture, according to Rick, is a human with little or no self-control (usually a male between the ages of 4 and 8.) A digital photo is the best way to keep it alive forever.

“A sandcastle becomes a memory that stays in your heart and mind long after the physical castle has been washed away,” Rick added. “I’ve seen a crusty old man pause from whatever he’s doing, smile and say, ‘Now that was fun.’”

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Classes at Beach Sand Sculptures focus on making ordinary sandcastles into impressive works of art. [Beach Sand Sculptures photo]

More sand sculpting

If you enjoy playing in the sand, or like watching others do it with some flair, check out these sand sculpting events around the state. (For the most detailed and ultimate list of sand sculpting events, visit www.sandsculptingevents.com.)

PIER 60 SUGAR SAND FESTIVAL

If you want to get a look at some incredible sand sculptures, head over to Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach anytime from April 12-28 and check out the annual Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival that celebrates Tampa Bay’s two most valuable assets: sugar sands and sunsets.

The 17-day event includes free activities for all ages, including street performers, artisans and crafters, live entertainment, fireworks, sand sculpting classes, speed sand demonstrations and best of all, and master sand sculpting competition. The sand sculpting competition takes place inside the Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit, where seven master sculptors create their own artistic piece in addition to the main sculptures.

“Team Sandtastic” will be on site throughout the festival adding finishing touches to the exhibit, teaching free sand sculpting workshops and performing speed sand demonstrations. There is a fee for touring the exhibit. General admission is $10 per guest, $8 for children 4-10 years old and free for children 3 and under. There are discounts for certain categories: AAA members, Seniors 60 and up, Active and Retired Military, Police, Fire and Educators.

SIESTA KEY CRYSTAL CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL SAND SCULPTING FESTIVAL

In early November, 24 of the premier master sand sculptors from around the world compete on Siesta Key beach, often named as one of the top beaches in the world.

The Classic concluded its ninth year and has hosted more than 260,000 attendees during its long run. They have witnessed the master sculptures transform the beach into an outdoor art gallery while checking out the other activities such as live music throughout the event along with a large village of shopping and food and drink vendors. Other activities include the popular three-day “Quick Sand” competition, sand sculpting lessons and an amateur sculpting competition.

AMERICAN SANDSCULPTING CHAMPIONSHIP

The Wyndham Garden Hotel on Fort Myers Beach will be the site of the 33rd annual American Sandsculpting Championship to be held on the last weekend in November in 2019.

The festival boasts that nearly 50,000 visitors come to the festival during the 10-day run that features sand, sun, art and music. The event features Master Sculptors, both solo and doubles, and advanced amateur sculptors competing for prizes. The Master Sculptors come from different countries and different states to vie for the various medals awarded for the best sculptures. Overall, there were more than 40 sand sculptures for spectators to admire, not including the amateur contest.

INTERNATIONAL SAND ART COMPETITION, KEY WEST

The annual competition brings together incredibly talented sand sculptors from around the world during Thanksgiving Weekend at Casa Marina Resort.

The competitors, each using 7 tons of sand, have four days to create their works of art with just sand and water. Visitors can watch the artists at work, or create their own work of art, have a drink or two and enjoy live island music. Last year, some lucky festival-goers got the chance to dig for a slew of prizes in the sand, including art, watersport adventures, sunset sails, museum tickets, spa services, gift certificates to restaurants in Key West and much more.

Sculptors compete for the Sculptor’s Choice Award, the Conch Republic Award and the People’s Choice Award.

SANDING OVATIONS MASTERS CUP

All it takes is several tons of sand, plenty of water and lots of imagination to compete in the annual Sanding Ovations Masters Cup on Treasure Island in Pinellas County. The mid-November festival highlights the work of 10 master sculptures who compete for cash prizes totaling more than $12,000. The money is divided among the top three sculptures and a People’s Choice sculpture.

In addition to the competition, other activities include a food court, arts and crafts marketplace, 3 days of live music and fireworks. Visitors can do a “meet and greet” with sculptors in the Beach Front Café of the Bilmar Beach Resort located at 10650 Gulf Boulevard in Treasure Island. Tickets are $15 at the door.

The event is invitational and has grown to be the largest masters competition in the Southeast United States.

This article was published on Jan. 17, 2019.

Wuckovich writes feature stories for Florida Beach Insider.