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By Hayze Law

More than 40 Ukrainian refugee children are able to attend camps with the Dana Point Ocean Institute this summer, thanks to scholarships from a recent fundraiser. 

Every year, the Institute hosts multiple weeklong summer camps for children between the ages of 5 and 17. After the Ukrainian crisis struck, the institute raised money through student scholarship programs, which are funded by the community and corporate sponsors, to share these opportunities with refugee families. 

Originally, the idea emerged after Laguna Beach resident Susie Campbell, who had taken in a Ukrainian woman and her son, reached out to the institute to inquire about summer opportunities.

From there, the idea sparked, and the Ocean Institute contacted Oksana Pashko, the organizer for the “Ukrainians of OC” Facebook Group, to take to the community site for support. 

After a record-breaking fundraiser for the Adopt-A-Class program, the Ocean Institute had the necessary means to put this forward, according to the local nonprofit.

“It is an honor to be here and use our resources to support these families,” Dr. Wendy Marshall, president and CEO of the Ocean Institute, said in a media release.

Campers this summer have a variety of programs to choose from, such as “Shipwreck Hunters” or “Coastal Explorers,” which include kayaking, fishing and tide-pool excursions along the Dana Point coastline. 

Packed with science-based activities and hands-on exploration, children will spend each day learning about the unique ecosystems and marine life.

The programs are currently at maximum capacity, though the Ocean Institute will add more Ukrainian children if positions become available.

Registration for campers and other information regarding the programs can be found at the Ocean Institute’s website, oceaninstitute.org/summer-camp/.

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