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Beach Camp Lets Children Make a Splash

July 08, 1998|JENNIFER HAMM

Learning everything from catching a wave to finding the optimal point of sail, about 200 children are spending part or all of their vacation at a camp offered by the city of Ventura.

Sailing and surfing are the focus of Beach Camp--one of five camps offered by the city.

"They're down at the water and in a sailboat," sailing instructor Dave Bowen said. "There are not too many programs that offer that to kids."

Beach Camp is open to children ages 8 to 15, who can enroll for one week or the whole summer to learn or improve sailing and surfing skills.

Most start with almost no sailing experience but can sail by the end of the week. Some go solo in 8-foot Sabots and others work in groups of three in 14- and 17-foot Capris.

In any given week, campers learn how to rig the small boats, tie basic knots and understand points of sail.

Young sailors hone their skills by competing in races and battling in sponge wars. Counselors and campers throw sponges at each other and the young sailors must retrieve them from the water.

Amid all the adrenaline, the campers put their skills into action--tacking, slowing down and even stopping.

The only bandage the water warriors need is a towel.

"We all get wet," Bowen said.

About 1,200 Ventura children will participate in the city's five camps this summer. The 12-year-old program was developed after working parents said they wanted to give their kids more than traditional day care during the summer, said Margaret Stallings, who coordinates the camps for the Community Services Department.

Today, youngsters can also produce a play in two weeks at Camp MTV (music, theater and variety), play basketball and soccer at sports camp and discover the great outdoors at the science and nature camp. Kids under 8 can go to Camp Combo.

The camps, which cost about $95 for a weekly session, usually fill up by the beginning of June, Stallings said.

"We're just giving them a taste of something they can do for the rest of their lives," she said.

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