Monday, May 27, 2024

Finding Home in Coronado and at YMCA Camp Surf

Written by Carson Ricks – Coronado resident, Camp Surf camper, Camp Surf leader
Carson Ricks

Few are lucky enough to call San Diego home, even fewer our town of Coronado. But I have been fortunate enough to find two homes in America’s Finest City: first, Coronado and, second, YMCA Camp Surf in Imperial Beach.

I am so grateful to call Coronado home, and the sense of community and belonging I’ve felt here growing up are aspects of our town that I will always cherish. Who knew that just minutes down Silver Strand, I would find the same feelings at Camp Surf – an amazing community where both Camp Leaders and campers feel belonging.

I’ve been part of Camp Surf’s family for the past sixteen years of my life. I started my journey as a Voyager in Day Camp and grew through the Watermen, Beachcomber, and S.O.U.L. Surfer overnight programs. Now I’m leadership staff on the team which changed my life so many years ago!

At Camp Surf, it is much more than playing games, shooting a bow and arrow, or making arts and crafts. Our program is designed to ensure campers leave wanting to come back for more by focusing on building friendships, feeling a sense of accomplishment, and finding a place to belong.

The amazing Camp Leaders and Unit Leaders run our program in a way that gives a simple activity a much deeper impact beyond just having fun. At the climbing tower, campers learn to persevere and conquer their fears while being supported by their peers. Seeing campers achieve their goals, and the excitement that follows, makes the climbing tower one of my favorite places to watch campers grow. We explore the amazing biodiversity of our oceans and tidepools and teach campers the importance of protecting these habitats. Just this past week, campers made an aquarium on the beach filled with clams, sea pickles, and sand crabs. Campers not only surf, bodyboard, and swim in the ocean, but learn to protect it through beach cleanups and trash art projects. Campers learn the importance of working together as a team through cleaning their cabins and dining tables, group games, building shelters in survival class, the low ropes course, and for our older campers, cooking for their cabinmates. Campers earn beads as recognition for their good deeds and behaviors during the day; some campers will come to camp with necklaces full of beads from previous weeks at camp. I still have many of my beads from when I was a camper!

I have so many fond memories from summers spent at Camp Surf. I will never forget a reflection activity where we made bucket lists. At the top I wrote “Work at Camp Surf one day.” Camp Surf has had an incredible impact on my life and the lives of countless others. My current supervisors and directors have seen me grow from a young camper into a Unit Leader of Voyagers Day Camp. We hope that through our intentional programing, fun activities, and nurturing Camp Leaders, you and your loved ones will join our Camp Surf family, too.

Register now for a week at Camp Surf! Visit us at or call us at 619-423-5850.

   ~  Carson Ricks – Coronado resident, Camp Surf camper, Camp Surf leader


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