David Donaldson

Board Member

Operation Amped Co-Founder David Donaldson completed 20 years and 13 days of active duty military service in the U.S. Navy on 01 September 2003.  Serving as a Hospital Corpsman, David completed assignments with the U.S. Marines, at Naval Hospitals and clinics in the U.S. and Spain, on the USS Patterson (FF-1061), the Hospital Ship USNS Mercy (TAH-10), and at Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal Training at the Naval Special Warfare Center at Coronado, CA where he retired.

After retiring from the Navy, David helped to build the Recreation Therapy program for the Comprehensive and Complex Casualty Care Center (C5) at the Naval Medical Center, San Diego and served as the first Recreation Therapist during the first three years of C5’s presence.  During that time, David worked directly with severely injured and ill veterans that had been medically evacuated from combat theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hallmarks of that very successful program were adaptive interventions that allowed veterans with a new amputations, brain injuries, PTSD, and poly-trauma to experience, many for the first time, the excitement, freedom, and healing of adventure-based activities such as surfing, snow skiing, rock climbing, and mountaineering.  That experience was the springboard for David to seek out like-minded surfers that would eventually give rise to Operation Amped.

David moved back to southern California after a three-year hiatus in Sandpoint, Idaho where he worked as a family therapist at the Northwest Academy, a therapeutic boarding school for adolescents. David has a passion for experiential learning and adventure-based counseling, and he brings 20 years of experience working in the team building and leadership training arena.

David earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Therapy and a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, both from San Diego State University, and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership program at California State University Long Beach.  David is a CA state-certified Recreation Therapist and a PSIA certified alpine, Nordic, and adaptive and instructor.

David is married to his beautiful wife Michelle, has two sons, a daughter, and another on the way. They all share the stoke and aloha spirit of surfing and playing in the outdoors.

On occasion, David makes his way to the break at El Porto with his favorite 9’6” Stewart that was a hand-shaped gift from the late Kenny Duncan.  “Shoulder high and trunks is the best combo.”