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Summer camp boosting confidence for children of Half Moon Bay's working families

"I think those lessons go far beyond what's happening here on the beach."

Sunday, July 30, 2023

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- In Half Moon Bay, nonprofit Ayudando Latinos A Soña, or ALAS, has been offering a free of charge summer camp to children of working families.

"I'm still a beginner," said 9-year-old Marliana Morales during surfing lessons.

After a couple hours in the water, Marliana said there shouldn't be any confusion. She is a pro now.

Luz Pena: "That's it. You are a surfer. This is what you want to do?"

Marliana Morales: "Yes."

That's confidence -- one of the main lessons they're learning at summer camp.

"I think those lessons go far beyond what's happening here on the beach," said Ashley Gray with the San Mateo Surf Rider Foundation.

For the past three weeks, 100 kids from Half Moon Bay's working families have been enjoying a free Summer Camp hosted by ALAS, and learning to surf has been one of the highlights.

Despite many of these kids living on the coast, Friday was actually the first time some of them were getting in the water, and their excitement was actually louder than the crashing waves.

"I think it's important for all kids to have access to experience what the ocean feels like and embrace the unknown," said Tre'Von Boykin with City Surf Project.

City Surf Project and the San Mateo Surf Rider Foundation are working with ALAS to offer the free summer camp.

San Mateo County Supervisor Ray Mueller was in the water as a surf instructor. Some of the kids are children of local farmworkers, a community devastated by a mass shooting earlier this year.

"Kids who come from farmworking families, and the community has gone through so much. Kids are really resilient, but they tend to internalize all of that. So, to give them opportunities like this to just go out and have fun," Mueller said.

Fun that goes beyond the water. When they're not surfing, they are learning music, art and dance. This camp was the dream of Zenon Barron. This is year number three.

"Most of the families don't have the income to send the kids to a private summer program because they are all so expensive. We tried to figure out how to come up with this program. We applied for different grants to do that," Barron said.

Many of the kids who learned to surf said they would want to continue after the camp ends.

"If you have a wetsuit you can go ahead and donate. That would be huge, because we want the kids to continue to come out here, enjoy the coast," Mueller said.

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