Camp Cove Returns to Crystal Cove State Park

For four summers now, we have been lucky enough to be involved in a wonderful summer beach program, Camp Cove. Through a great partnership between the Santa Ana Police Athletic and Activity League, California State Parks, The Conservancy, as well as generous funding from the Samueli Foundation, we have been able to offer a very special educational program to nearly 100 at-risk students to make a rare visit to the beach and explore tidepools, discover coastal ecosystems, learn about beach safety, and build connections to their community. Camp Cove participants had to earn their way into the program through excellent academic performance and good citizenship. Many came into the program with limited ocean experience; most said this would be their only opportunity to visit the beach this summer, while some said they had never been to the beach at all. It was a perfect opportunity for The Conservancy and California State Parks to reach out to a deserving group of underserved youth and share the importance of environmental protection, preservation, and aquatic safety.

From July 23-27, students from the Santa Ana area arrived at our park, exiting off the busses donning bright green rash guards. The Conservancy funded the rash guards, transportation as well as all meals and snacks for every student. Each morning, the students were treated to an interpretive presentation from State Parks and The Conservancy Staff. They explored the area’s history and natural resources, learned about tidepool ecology, and spent a morning at sea on The Conservancy’s Marine Protected Area Citizen Science Cruise. They also took part in the release of a rehabilitated elephant seal. After the interpretive programs and lunch, the afternoons were spent on the beach having fun in the ocean and learning aquatic safety and first aid with California State Parks Lifeguards.

“One of the most amazing things to see was the profound transformation in their comfort level and knowledge about the beach environment.” State Parks Interpreter Francesca said, “While there may have been some apprehension of the ocean at the beginning of the week, by the end of the week that was gone, and the students showed great confidence entering the water with ease, recognizing ocean conditions, and creating close relationships with staff and lifeguards.”

The involvement of the Santa Ana Police Department can’t be understated, as they put hard work into reaching out to their community in order to build relationships and be a positive source of mentorship for the kids, while also encouraging good citizenship and academic performance.

It was a fabulous week by all involved, and we look forward to hosting Camp Cove again next year!


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