Nineteen teens from across the state, and an exchange student from Japan, were the first to enjoy the newly renovated oceanside accommodations at the Curry County Fairgrounds during Curry County 4-H's inaugural Surfing Outdoor Stewardship (S.O.S) marine science and ocean adventure camp.
Grants from Wild Rivers Community Foundation and Hobie assisted in funding a portion of the camp.
Together with Oregon State faculty, ocean research scientists and local outdoor enthusiasts, campers experienced the Wild Rivers Coast by land and sea. Campers expanded their understanding of ocean related issues, explored future career options and tested their physical abilities on kayaks and surfboards.
"Surfing is an opportunity for youth to fully immerse themselves in the world of stewardship and marine-related studies," said Michelle Carrillo, 4-H coordinator and S.O.S camp director.
The stewardship began with the help of Tom Calvanese, a graduate researcher in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University and Tyson Rasor, a project coordinator for the Redfish Rocks Community Team, who oversaw campers delve into fish anatomy through a hands-on lab.
"Working together to perform the fish dissections allowed the students to explore their natural curiosity while practicing the critical thinking and collaboration so essential to effective scientific inquiry," explained Calvanese. "It was great to see such enthusiasm, and gratifying to know they learned so much from the experience. I am grateful we were able to provide a professional lab experience here in Port Orford where they also got to directly experience the marine environment these fish came from."
Campers also filleted and grilled freshly caught Rockfish for their evening dinner.
Leading the outdoor adventure portion of camp was Dave Lacy, owner of South Coast Tours LLC and a 4-H volunteer for Surfrider Surf Club in Gold Beach. Campers tried their hand at sea kayaking across the waterways of the Wild Rivers Coast and surfing at Meyers Creek.
4-H was able to provide wetsuits and equipment to the campers via support from donators such as Hobie.
"It is great to see so many kids experiencing and enjoying the ocean in new ways" Lacey said.
Curry County 4-H currently has two established surfing and outdoor stewardship clubs - Tsunami Surfers in Gold Beach and Borderline Surfers in Brookings. Those interested in learning more about the clubs or getting involved in 4-H this coming year should contact the OSU Extension Office in Gold Beach at 541-247-6672.