Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

 

Nothing says summertime like kids enjoying a near-perfect week-long summer camp

When I was a young kid, I used to love going away to summer camp. A couple of those traditional ones included the always fun and educational Boy Scouts camp and Mt. Hermon, a Christian summer camp located in the Santa Cruz Mountains, that my folks hoped would somehow rub off on me.

But what really etched its way into my memory bank way back then was when my family headed to the Camp of the Lair of the Golden Bear, a University of California (Berkeley) alumni magical spot just outside of Pinecrest, Calif. Still to this day I remember the variety of sports activities: swimming, fishing, arts & crafts, making new friends, getting dirty, just plain having fun and virtually doing something different every day.

Although my folks were Cal grads, I wasn’t, so those opportunities eventually evaporated for me. Still, I’ve thought about those wonderful days many times over the years.

Now having three young grandchildren (7, 5 and 3), I’ve wished for something similar for them in these more than busy, hustle and bustle times we celebrate here in the OC. Oh, but where?

Sure, there are plenty of camps around, but I was looking for something that offered a wonderful variety of activities that immersed them in a camp-like setting.

Here’s the good news, I think I found it! Last week, two of my three grandchildren attended the week-long Camp James situated on the western shore (entering off Bayside) of the Back Bay inside the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort.

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Courtesy of Victoria Dell

It’s summer camp time…grandkids Curty (5) and Kate (7) arrive to enjoy the week ahead

You realized you’ve hit success when the kids are dressed and ready to go first thing in the morning all week long, with smiles from ear-to-ear on their faces and they’re excited to get there.

Then, at the end of the day, tired and oftentimes somewhat dirty, they shared their daily activities with each other in the back seat of the car on the way home.

The way Camp James is set up is by age group. Five-year-old Curty was a member of the Rabbits group, while 7-year-old Kate was with the Meercats. That way youngsters interact with kids their own size, age and abilities.

Photo by Amara Grover Photography

Kate showing off her prowess of doing the splits next to one of her camp counselors

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Photo by Amara Grover Photography

Curty (center, in purple shirt) receives instructions for their next group activity

The camp’s mission is simple: Expose children to a smorgasbord of activities while providing ample opportunities for skill development each summer they return. And I’m told that many, if not most, do. As an added plus, all of the activities unfold right on the Dunes’ grounds.

Activity classes run each day for 45-60 minutes and change every day to keep things fresh. The camp staff aims to give each group a taste of all the activities their age qualifies for in a week. It could be canoeing, swimming, arts & crafts, go-karts, paddleboarding, martial arts, rock climbing, mini-golfing, dancing on the stage and so much more. Plus, you can’t forget about the added inflatable water park that includes climbing, slides and just plain fun opportunities out in the bay.

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Photo by Amara Grover Photography

Some the camp’s older kids enjoyed time on the water in the kayak

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Photo by Amara Grover Photography

While the littler campers packed into a canoe for a ride around the bay

And don’t worry about the heat that was evident last week, because every single day brings a water-related activity for all groups, whether in their pool, at the inflatable waterpark, or across the sand in the bay (or as my 5-year-old said, “We swam in the ocean!”).

When I spoke with a number of camp counselors, high school-aged and young college students, most came with fond experiences of their own times while attending Camp James during their youth. So, they were intent on sharing those good times with all these new campers and were extremely engaging.

All in all, we had a fantastic week! It could be the start of a tradition like I enjoyed as a kid. And next year, hopefully my youngest grandchild will join in the action.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Amara Grover Photography

A week at camp makes for best buds!

So, if you’re still looking for something special for your kids before summer is out, I urge you to check out Camp James. They have weekly camps running into August for kids ages 5-13.

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort

Most of us have seen the inflatable water park and said to ourselves, “Gosh, that would be fun”

You can check it out at https://campjames.com/. Trust me, your kids will love it!

• • •

Still looking to shore up your July 4th plans? Perhaps the VEA Newport Beach has the answer.

You can recharge your spirit there during the entire Independence Day weekend. Join in for a sizzling celebration of flavors at their BBQ Bash; sip your way through spirits tastings at the beloved Edge Bar, and enjoy special poolside delighters and fun lawn games all weekend long.

July 4th festivities include:

–Front row seats to Newport Beach Country Club Fireworks Show on July 4.

Summer Family Movie Night (Finding Dory) on Saturday, July 6.

Red, White and VEA Blue BBQ on both Thursday, July 4 and Saturday, July 6.

Pop-Up Poolside Tacos on Friday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7.

–Spirits tastings and experiences including Garrison Bros Whiskey, Jack Daniels No. 7, The Beach Rose & Frose and more.

–Live guitarist on Friday and poolside DJs throughout the weekend.

–Kids’ stuffed animals and mini flags upon check-in.

Ping Pong, Cornhole, Connect Four and Jenga on the Sunset Lawn.

Check it out at https://veanewportbeach.ipoolside.com.

• • •

The Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce is looking for a handful of people with a patriotic side to assist in placement of the CdM Highway of Flags for the upcoming July 4th holiday.

Volunteers would need to arrive early on the morning of July 4 (6 a.m.) and help place the traditional American flags up and down PCH throughout the CdM Village. It would take about an hour.

Interested? Meet in front of the Chamber office (between Starbucks and the Port Theater by 6 a.m., and/or at 4:30 p.m. for the take-down process of the same flags on the same day.

Editor’s Note: Photographer Amara Grover, whose photos accompanied the Camp James write-up above, came to us as a talented student entering her senior year at St. Margaret’s High School. She was looking to build on a portfolio to continue her young photography career moving forward. Amara specializes in sports, portraits and event photography and proved to us she has a keen eye for capturing the essence of every moment. She is poised to continue making a significant impact in the world of visual storytelling while expanding opportunities through Amara Grover Photography (amaragrover@gmail.com).


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