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A surf camp for children and adults with special needs is underway in Morro Bay

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Posted at 7:35 PM, Jun 30, 2023

A surf camp designed for children and adults with special needs is underway in Morro Bay.

"We ended up going out to surf for about two hours," John Taylor, founder and executive director of Project Surf Camp, said. "This is an amazing experience."

Taylor started the camp, called Project Surf, 15 years ago. He previously worked as a special education teacher and says he designed the camp not just for the participants but also for their families.

Volunteers receive special training before everyone gets into the water.

"We have special education teachers that are coming out and helping out. We have [board-certified behavioral analysts], we have other education teachers," Taylor said.

Some of those attending have been coming out since the beginning.

"[We started] 15 years ago when he was five years old and he’s been coming ever since," Mercedes Meier said, who is an Arroyo Grande resident. "He loves being out in the ocean."

"Project Surf is a wonderful organization that we’re very lucky to have on the Central Coast and I hope all families with special needs kids get to enjoy it," Meier said.

The camp — a 501(c)(3) that also partners with the Morro Bay Department of Recreation and Parks — is making an impact.

“He was over the moon from everything he learned and I had just a sense of peace and joy that he was able to experience that on his own,” Kate Fadley said, who is a resident of Fresno.

This is Kate Fadley’s son’s first year at the camp and she says she is beyond grateful for the amount of independence and instruction that her son received.

"Not only is it amazing for him to be able to interact with peers but also they have somebody that you can tell truly cares about your child, " Fadley said.

Other parents agree.

"This is something we know [where] he’s safe and he’s protected when he goes out into the water — we know that the volunteers are watching them," said Meghan Brady who lives in Paso Robles and has a son in the camp. "They got eyes on him. They know how to interact with him with autism."

Brady and her son have been coming to the camp for three years. She says her son knows how to surf because of it.

"It’s changed our life for the better," Brady said.

Project Surf offers camps for five weeks every summer in Morro Bay and applications are accepted beginning April 1.

Other activities offered through project surf include paddle board instruction and beach aquatics.