Summer Camps for Kids in Newport Beach
bWhether your young one is a sporty surfer or aspiring scientist, Newport Beach offers the perfect place to “camp” out this summer.
“The park is packed this summer with fun camps for kids,” says California State Parks Interpretative Naturalist Winter Bonnin, who’s “wiped out” after wrapping up an exciting week at Camp Coastal Wild. From Junior Rangers to junior rowers, a as well as a whole host of other programs throughout the city, there’s no shortage of adventure this season!
An introduction to the ocean
The California Junior Lifeguard Programs partners with the Newport Dunes Resort and Marina to host its eighth year of Back Bay Summer Camp. Kids can learn about the environment and build athletic endurance through a series of both aquatic and dry land adventures. Running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at one-week intervals throughout July and August, the program introduces campers to the ocean in a “calm and sheltered environment with no waves” to help acclimate them and build confidence. All counselors are certified rescue personnel from the California Junior Lifeguard Programs, who say their goal is to provide kids with the following: an increased level of confidence and ability in the ocean; a basic knowledge of ocean safety; health, nutrition and first-aid; a respect for their environment and surroundings; and a desire to continue experiencing all the ocean has to offer. Campers ages 6 – 12 can sign up, but must be able to swim at a basic level. Fee is $215/week for each participant. More information here.
Learn to ride with the big guys
As a grom, world-traveling surfer Erik Nelsen experienced his first-ever surf session through a small, local, family-run camp. The positive and intimate experience, he says, inspired not only his love of the water, but his passion to teach surfing to other young kids the same way. Held in West Newport, Erik Nelsen Surf Camps — now in its 30th year — is open to kids ages 5 – 14 and runs weekly, from 9 a.m. to 3p.m., throughout the summer. Groups hit the waves with CPR- and first-aid-certified instructors, with about one pro for every four students. The daily grind includes warm-up exercises, surf instruction, snack and lunch breaks, other fun ocean activities and a beach cleanup. “Kids also get to enjoy a closing pizza party and meet a pro surfer,” Erik says. The program is also offered to a girls-only group. $550/week; sign up here.
Seeking stewards of the earth
Learn about our local ecology, geology, history, wildlife and more through a series of games, hikes and other adventures at Crystal Cove. Hosted by California State Parks, the Junior Rangers program allows campers (ages 7 – 12 can sign up) to develop a deeper appreciation for their surroundings through hands-on activities while tracking their progress in a logbook (each activity earns you a new stamp, and other rewards are also up for grabs!). Completing the circuit earns you a Junior Ranger badge — a real honor. At Crystal Cove State Park, kids meet from 10 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday and Friday mornings throughout July. For a schedule and directions, visit here.
Fostering a love of nature in little ones
Newport’s Environmental Nature Center (ENC) features a different theme for every week of the summer, each offering an exciting, educational experience: “We have nature hikes, scavenger hunts and science experiments,” says Lori Whalen of ENC. “Kids will get to meet our live educational animals, visit a butterfly house, observe birds and bugs, make arts and crafts, build forts and enjoy other nature play, and so much more.” Open to kids ages 5 and older, the camp runs through Aug. 18. Some upcoming themes include Journey Through Time, Outdoor Creativity and Tail Tales. A half-day runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is $180/student, $162/members. A full day (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) is $265/student, $238.50/members. “Tuition” includes instruction, laboratory and art supplies, and a cool organic cotton camp T-shirt. Visit encenter.org for complete details and to register.
A “Traditional” Newport Beach Summer
Have a blast while broadening your skills
At Bayside Drive’s Camp James, kids get to explore “traditional-style” day camp in the beautiful outdoors. “Our goal is to expose children to a wide variety of activities as well as provide abundant opportunities for campers to increase their skill development,” the camp states on its website. Offering a long list of activities from which to choose, participants get to have fun right here on the campgrounds — no shuttling or busing or cutting into serious play time. Available to kids ages 4 – 13 through the end of August, Camp James offers a long list of activities to enjoy: From archery and art to dance and drama to climbing and swimming, there’s a blast to be had by all. Visit campjames.com for a complete list of activities and to register.
Row Your Boat
Summer camps shape competitive athletes
At Newport Sea Base Rowing, experienced instructors offer four different weeklong programs through August that cater to rowers of varying experience levels. Open to ages 13 – 18, the series starts with a “Learn to Row” course that teaches technique, boat and oar handling, water safety and indoor rowing. Next up are the “Experienced High School” and “Club Nationals” camps, aimed to fine tune technique, practice racing and turn athletes into serious competitors. A fourth summer camp is even available for adults! For schedules and registration, visit seabaserowing.org.