Family Guide 2023-2024

8 The Best of Monterey Bay® Family 2023-2024 Surf’s Up Monterey Bay and its coastline provides many summer learning opportunities. By Kera Abraham G rowing up in the Pittsburgh suburbs, I didn’t have an ocean to play in — let alone a raft of ocean-themed youth programs. To get to the community pool, I had to walk a muggy, mosquito-riddled mile. Uphill both ways. The kids of Monterey County, on the other hand, have myriad opportunities to get up close and salty with surfable waves, scaly marine life, even underwater robots. Here are some of the best marine-centric experiences. All offer need-based scholarships. Dionne Ybarra founded The Wahine Project (236-0327, in 2010 to connect diverse youth with the ocean and one another. Today, the nonprofit provides year-round surf sessions. Summer is high season at Wahine, with half-day beach camps for ages 4 and up. Beginners are introduced to ocean safety, body surfing, body boarding and surfing, while more seasoned surfers can shred under the guidance of trained staff. Ybarra, who grew up in East Salinas, says many local young people have not had equitable access to the coast. She hopes kids come away from Wahine’s programs with joy, passion to protect the ocean, and deeper confidence in themselves. “They will have opportunities to face their fears,” she says, “and find new ways to face fears off the beach in their everyday lives.” For more than 20 years, Camp SEA Lab (521-2893, has provided outdoor school and summer camp programs that promote marine science, education and exploration. Day camps feature aquatic adventures and marine science activities. The Ocean Forest Odyssey gets kids ages 8-12 out to Monterey Bay’s rocky coast and kelp forests, where they tidepool, snorkel, and even make art prints of fish and algae. A new theme, “Beach Biology and Breakers,” features surfing, kayaking, and boogie boarding. “Stewards of the SEA,” for ages 10-15, has a stronger focus on careers in marine science and conservation. Teens can take five-day voyages on the Seaward, an 82-foot schooner. Guided by an experienced captain and crew, campers learn about oceanography, coastal and marine ecology, and sailing traditions. “By the end of our programs, we hope all campers feel empowered to participate in ocean conservation,” says Program Coordinator Ahalya Kerrutt. “It can feel overwhelming to be young and always hear about problems that face the environment. We try to show our campers small steps they can take every day to have a positive impact.” In 2013, oceanographer Dr. Geoff Above left: A Camp SEA Lab participant shows off some aquatic treasures. “I love experiencing firsts with campers and seeing their wonder and amazement,” says SEA Lab’s Ahalya Kerrutt. Above: Seafloor Science ROV Summer Camp takes students to sea on a research mission—without leaving the classroom. Oceans and Robotics Inc. Camp SEA Lab Oceans and Robotics Inc.