Have you ever stopped and stared at an intricately carved sandcastle on the beach and thought, wish I could do that? It turns out you’re not alone.


Creative coastal entrepreneurs paid attention to those lingering looks and began doing just that—teaching people how to build spectacular sandcastles. But for Rick Mungeam, his path to sandcastle success was a bit different. It was totally unexpected and came after retirement.

Rick and his wife, Capri, were exploring Florida in an RV when they discovered the beauty of Topsail State Park and decided to stay for a bit. He began volunteering at the park and, to relax, would build sandcastles on the beach. It turned out the retired architect had a knack for crafting buildings out of sand.

“One of the rangers saw a few of my castles and asked if I’d teach a class on building sandcastles for the park,” he explained.

The classes filled quickly, and one evening, during a particularly gorgeous sunset, he noticed a bride and groom posing for photographs next to one of his castles that featured a big heart.

“I realized I might have a business opportunity when I saw that,” he said.

So Rick and Capri thought up a business name (SandCastle Lessons), built a website,  and with every booking, word spread. Rick went from teaching families and groups how to make a sandcastle 3-4 days a week to training a seasonal staff of 20-25 sand sculptors to keep up with the demand. And now, people from around the world can learn from Rick, thanks to a licensing deal SandCastle Lessons made with Princess Cruise lines.

His process is straightforward and involves an assortment of tools. “I always do a demo first for families, so people can see how each tool is used,” he explained. “Then they can create their masterpieces. Sometimes people will start carving, and all of a sudden, they’ll say their castle looks like a frog, and they’ll go with it. I think we’ve made everything by now. Toilets are a surprisingly common request. I suppose every castle needs a throne!”

During a recent lesson with the Spillman family, Rick built a delightful sandcastle. The essential ingredient for success other than sand? Water. Once he was done, the family grabbed buckets and tools and got busy creating castles of their own.

As he walked around, nodding his head and encouraging their progress, he offered this sage advice:

“When you think you have enough water, add more water.


man building sandcastle
man building sandcastle

Tool Tips:
Always fill buckets halfway with water first! Add sand second. Top with additional water if needed.
Rick uses a straight-edge ruler to cut steps into his castle.
The paintbrush handle creates the look of stone on the castle steps.
A Portable Pneumatic Device (a straw) is Rick’s favorite tool! He uses it to gently clean up crevices and edges to give castle details a crisp, defined look.

The essential toolkit consists of the following:

  • Five-gallon buckets
  • Bottomless buckets
  • One-gallon buckets
  • Paintbrush
  • Melon baller
  • Pastry spatula
  • Small shovels
  • PPD

Always fill buckets with water first! Then add sand.
Water is your friend. Use lots of water to build a sandcastle.
A good rule of thumb is a bucket filled halfway with water.
Bottomless buckets create a castle’s shape easily.
Everyone can get in on the fun!