Nearly 100 children and their families will pitch tents and make waves at the annual Stansport Family and Friends Campout at the Aquatic Center at Castaic Lake, supported by California State University, Northridge, from Saturday, June 25, to Sunday, June 26.
Those attending participate in the Los Angeles Police Department, Devonshire Station’s Police Activity League Supporters (PALS) program, which works with children in underserved communities. Camping gear company and event host Stansport will provide tents, sleeping bags and lanterns to the participating families at no cost. CSUN’s Aquatic Center at Castaic Lake staff will provide free Aqua Smart classes, where children from third to fifth grade and sixth to eighth grade can learn to canoe, kayak and more. The free classes are funded by an Aquatic Center grant from the California Division of Boating and Waterways.
Nathan Martin, executive director of the Aquatic Center at Castaic Lake, which is overseen by CSUN’s Department of Recreation and Tourism Management, said the campout serves the mission of PALS, Stansport and CSUN — to connect to the community and serve those who are often underserved.
“Our mission at the Aquatic Center is in large part to do outreach to groups in underserved communities,” he said. “When I found out what [Stansport’s] mission was, and what they were doing with the equipment to give the opportunity to camp to kids who don’t generally have that access — who don’t have the resources to even consider it — the alignment was there.”
Martin added that working with the PALS program and Stansport provides CSUN a stronger connection to the community and supports the university’s seven planning priorities, as outlined by CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison, which include using athletics as a tool for engagement.
“We extend the notion of using CSUN athletics as a tool for engagement by offering recreation and sport activities that connect us to the community,” he said. “Furthermore, by doing so we also help extend the visibility and reputation of CSUN, and we are able to do more with less University funding by the grant we secured from the California Division of Boating and Waterways.”
The center’s community outreach is vital to its success at providing opportunities to at-risk students and children, said Erin Eiholzer, an Aquatic Center professional, employee of Associated Students and a 2014 alumna of CSUN’s Department of Recreation and Tourism Management.
“Our partnerships are really what allow us to do our programming, and [having] a good relationship with them is what draws us forward,” she said. “We hope to reach more groups in the future, especially in the surrounding community.”
The Aquatic Center at Castaic Lake has been providing boating and water safety classes and experiences for 40 years through the expertise of CSUN’s lifeguards and recreation and tourism management staff. Located in Los Angeles County, the center is minutes from Six Flags Magic Mountain. For more information on the Aquatic Center, visit its website or call (818) 677-4652.