As summer approaches, so do the classic seasonal activities: beach days, surfing, and for kids, summer camps. But with Coronado beaches still closed due to leaking sewage from Tijuana, summer may look a bit different.
“Obviously, everyone wishes the situation were different,” said Sean Carey, lifeguard captain for the City of Coronado, who oversees the city’s Junior Lifeguard program. “But we’re fortunate that we can change our approach to make things work.”
The program, which kicks off this week but does not include time in the ocean until June 19, will be relocated to Glorietta Bay Park if the water quality does not improve in time. The park faces the San Diego Bay rather than the sewage-contaminated ocean waters on the opposite side of Coronado.
Similarly, the YMCA of San Diego County has a contingency plan in place for its annual Camp Surf, which hosts sessions in Imperial Beach from June until August. The organization has already acquired permits and transportation to move campers to northern beaches if the water quality requires it.
“We had closures last summer too,” said Jamie Cosson, executive director of the YMCA of San Diego. “Our position is always ‘safety first,’ so we aren’t going to put kids in water that’s even borderline unsafe. We’re hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.”
Cosson said the camp offers alternative activities on site, such as archery, rock climbing, and field games.
“The beach is a draw,” he said, “but camp is also about building friendships. As long as kids are having fun, that’s what matters.”
Coronado’s Junior Lifeguard program is also about more than just in-water training, Carey said. Youth learn about rip currents and water safety of course, but they also learn about oceanography, meteorology, and even videography.
The program has hosted Olympic volleyball players who taught workshops, multimedia experts who taught how to storyboard, shoot, and produce videos, and U.S. Coast Guard Academy Students – including Carey’s own daughter – who spoke about her experience.
The program provides a springboard for a lifestyle in sync with the water, Carey said. That includes an understanding of the ocean, safety skills for beach visits, or even to open opportunities for a future career.
“Our goal is to give kids an appreciation of the ocean,” Carey said. “We’re fortunate we have the resources to do that, at either of our locations.”