Last week, more than 100 Santa Ana kids got to enjoy five fun-filled days in the sun at Crystal Cove State Park as they took part in Camp Cove! The campers, who were all between the ages of 6 to 17, came from the Santa Ana Police Athletics and Activities League (SAPAAL), a community organization that focuses on building a bond between kids and cops through education, fitness, and activities. Their week at Camp Cove was organized by the Crystal Cove State Park Lifeguard and Interpretive staff, with help from Crystal Cove Alliance (CCA).
Before coming to the State Park, the campers began exploring the Park’s unique ecosystems on shore and at sea as they took part in two boat programs with CCA and then spent an afternoon videoconferencing with Crystal Cove’s PORTS interpreter.
“Being on the boat was so much fun!” says Zeilyn, age 11. “I had seen dolphins in aquariums but this was my first time seeing dolphins and their calves in their natural habitat. It was awesome!”
During their week at Crystal Cove, campers learned about beach safety with the Crystal Cove Lifeguards as they enjoyed the waves and played games on the beach. State Park Interpreters led them on an interpretive hike into Crystal Cove’s backcountry, and campers were able to take part in ongoing scientific research and explore the Historic District’s long tradition of plein air art with Crystal Cove Alliance. Speakers also introduced campers to the possibilities of State Park careers.
“Camp Cove this year has been incredible,” says Officer Kenney Aguilar, the director of the Santa Ana PAAL program. “With the new joined partnership with Crystal Cove Alliance, these kids not only get to have fun on the beach with the lifeguards, but are able to experience the history of Crystal Cove’s Historic District and learn about all the science and research CCA does at the State Park.”
Although the participants live just twelve miles from the ocean in inner city Santa Ana, some had never been to the coast before. Their experience was made possible through the generous support of the California State Park Foundation (which funded transportation to and from the Cove), Laguna Beach Community Foundation fund holders including Donnie Crevier and Betsy and Gary Jenkins, and Crystal Cove’s local community, which came together to support this unique program through an online fundraiser.
We put together a little video to thank you for supporting Camp Cove!