The Santa Ana Police Athletic & Activity League (PAAL) Program just wrapped up Camp Cove 2017! 100 Santa Ana kids were sent to Camp Cove, a beach camp that takes place on the beach and backcountry areas of Crystal Cove in Laguna Beach, CA.
Camp Cove began as a partnership between the Santa Ana PAAL and California State Parks in an effort to provide Santa Ana youth better exposure to the beach, aquatic safety, environmental stewardship, and careers within the California State Parks system. Since the first Camp Cove in 2015, the program has grown into so much more.
During Summer 2016, Camp Cove grew in partnership to include nonprofit Crystal Cove Conservancy resulting in an enhanced beach camp experience with additional funding support. Through interagency coordination, 100 Santa Ana kids were transported from Santa Ana to Laguna Beach every day where they participated in educational backcountry hikes with State Parks nature interpreters and trained side-by-side with State Parks lifeguards and State Parks officers who guided the kids through physical-fitness based aquatic activities.
The State Parks K-9 Unit also conducted demonstrations of two of their dogs for the campers. Crystal Cove Conservancy led the kids on tours of the Crystal Cove Historic District and sent all 100 kids on a whale-watching cruise through Davey’s Locker out of Newport Beach, CA.
Crystal Cove Conservancy worked very hard at scheduling with Pacific Marine Mammal Center to provide a special experience unique to Camp Cove 2017. On August 2nd, the kids witnessed a rehabilitated elephant seal and sea lion release back to the ocean.
When asked what she thought about witnessing the marine mammal release, PAAL student Sonya Lopez said, “Wow, I can’t believe I just saw that. To see people helping animals and then them going back home into nature is, like, something I will never forget.” Through coordination with Concordia University Marine Laboratory, the kids also learned about tide pools and were able to see the school’s tide pool touch tanks.
As the summer of 2017 ends, planning for Camp Cove 2018 begins. Camp Cove strives to provide the best beach camp experience to Santa Ana youth and access to a resource that can sometimes be taken for granted: the beach. Despite coastal access being only about eight miles away from Santa Ana, for some kids, Camp Cove was their first time being at the beach and for others, it may be the only time they visit the beach all year.
At Camp Cove, the kids are provided camp rash guards, T-shirts, and baseball caps, they are fed lunch every day, and transportation is provided daily to and from Camp Cove. The campers are supervised and led by Santa Ana police personnel; California State Parks officers, lifeguards, and nature interpreters; and by the educational staff at Crystal Cove Conservancy. With 98% of the kids coming from low-income homes, Camp Cove will continue to provide programming free of cost to the kids and to their families.
For those interested in supporting Camp Cove, charitable contributions can be made to the Santa Ana PAAL through our donor-advised fund at the nonprofit Orange County Community Foundation. Please visit: https://donor.oc-cf.org/make-a-donation and designate your contribution to “Santa Ana PAAL.”