Land Meets Sea camper prepares to water ski.

Volunteers help a Land Meets Sea camper get ready to water ski at Marine Stadium.

—Gazette photo by Harry Saltzgaver

Men, women, boys and girls are gathered in Long Beach this week to try sports they might not have access to otherwise.

It’s the Land Meets Sea Sports Camp. For decades, it was part of the city’s Sea Festival. Now Casa Colina Centers For Rehabilitation has taken the project on, and grown it at Marine Stadium.

“It’s available to those 4 and older who have disabilities or special needs,” Priti Vaidya, Casa Colina’s director of Outdoor Adventures, said. “Last year, we had 64 people. This year, there are 83 participants.”

The camp started Wednesday, Aug. 6, and will continue through Friday, Aug. 8. People who have suffered spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spina bifida, developmental disabilities or other problems will have the chance to try water skiing, jet skis, sailing and canoeing or kayaking on the water. On land, there will be quad rugby, hockey, basketball and tennis as wheelchair sports, and a number of other activities.

“For some, this really is a chance to see if they like something,” Vaidya said. “For others, it’s a chance to get better at something they’ve done before.”

Casa Colina was founded in 1936 in Chino and began building its current campus at Pomona in 1959. It treats people of all ages with disabilities resulting from neurological and/or orthopedic conditions.

The Land Meets Sea Sports Camp is part of the larger Outdoor Adventures program. Vaidya leads a staff of certified therapeutic recreational specialists and trained volunteers to give clients an opportunity to experience the outdoors.

“Long Beach is a good space for Land Meets Sea,” Vaidya said. “We’ve been here a long time, and it offers a controlled space for the activities.”

The fee for the three-day camp is $300, which includes all the events, lunches, a T-shirt and more. But Casa Colina tries to not turn anyone away, Vaidya said.

“We do offer scholarships through the Casa Colina Foundation,” she said. “We want everyone who wants to participate. The foundation raised money for that very reason.”

Between 45 and 50 volunteers and staff will be on-hand to make sure the program goes smoothly. Casa Colina rents Marine Stadium for the three days, allowing the water activities to go on without disruption.

To find out more about Casa Colina or to be considered for next year’s Land Meets Sea Sports Camp, visit www.casacolina.org or call (909) 596-7733.

Harry Saltzgaver can be reached at hsalt@gazettes.com.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 20 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 30 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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