We Are Ocean Crossing for Cancer Survivors
7-time Olympic medalist and waterman Aaron Peirsol reported from Newport Beach, California, “Ten people who have battled, or who are battling, cancer participated in a camp in White’s Landing on Catalina Island last weekend, immersing themselves in sailing, canoeing, ocean swimming, lounging, intimate camp fires, music, healthy meals, and an open hearted community. The experience was powerful and touching and, for those who attended, I would argue wholly and sincerely appreciated.
The healing forces of community, nature, and the ocean were harnessed, and challenging activities were provided to get everyone out of their comfort zones and engage in life in novel ways. All in all, Jack and his team provided an excellent, healing experience for everyone involved, and I’m happy to consider myself a part of that team.
My group of friends; Joel, Redge, Tanner and Paul all engaged and helped throughout the weekend, and gained much from it as well, to say nothing of the new relationships that were garnered. And all the while, we kept an eye on weather and conditions, and on Saturday night, we knew the next morning we would awake at 3 am Sunday, and aim to be off, on the water by 4 am. One of our ways of contributing was about to be underway. Having planned and planned some more for the endeavor we felt comfortable with the upcoming day, but nothing was to prepare us for what we awoke to.
Upon waking, we came to learn of an oil spill off of Huntington Beach, which would be just north of where we were headed. We were intrigued as much as we were disheartened, and were determined to see it with our own eyes if we could. We could smell it around mid channel but only came upon it come the last three or so miles, where we weaved in and out of the slicks, and still went through plenty of it. It saddened all of us, but we were glad to be part of it.
Still, a few members of the camp awoke early to send us off. Our new friend and camp “counselor,” Val, offered to shadow us on the way home during the paddle. We couldn’t have asked for a better or more capable person to join us. For the next 9 and a half hours, over 32 miles from Long Point on Catalina Channel to the Newport Aquatic Center in Newport Beach, we stroked on our boards, on our bellies and knees, on what was a beautiful day with glassy conditions, warm water and following seas. We met our element.
We came ashore at 2 pm, tired but feeling good, to family and friends onshore.
We could turn around and see the familiar sight of Catalina on the horizon, and feel the strange realization that roughly 20,000 small strokes, one at a time, can add up to something so great. We are honored to be able to dedicate our paddle to We Are Ocean and the NAC. The blood red Board of Hope will be cleaned of its oil scum line and over a thousand names of cancer survivors and victims will be memorialized on it.
Media has followed the camp and our paddle. Paul found himself contacted by National Public Radio earlier in the week to talk of paddling through the oil spill. My good friend at the OC Register, Dan Albano, has written a couple of articles relating to the camp, the paddle and the spill. It’s nice to have the endeavor have tentacles.
We raised US$5000 for a wonderful cause. We’re so very appreciated and grateful, and we aim to keep doing good work.
We Are Ocean program are programs organized by NAC | WAO Adventures in Newport Beach, California. They are one, two and three day experiential programs centered around one or two ocean-based activities. Whether traveling via sailboat, canoe, SUP, outrigger or kayak, participants receive personalized training in the basic technique of each sport before and during each activity.
The deep engagement in nature and sport, combined with the opportunity to witness the inspiring progress of fellow cancer patients and survivors provides an incredible context of healing and possibility. We Are Ocean program provides nutritious communal meals throughout these adventures while the participants reflect on their respective journeys and setting a course toward the future.
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