Looking Back at Camp Surf
In May of 1969 a lease agreement was reached between the YMCA and the United States Navy to establish a waterfront camp for youth-serving organizations in San Diego. The new camp was named YMCA Camp S.U.R.F., an acronym for “San Diego Unified Recreation Facility”. Captain William “Bill” Fargo was the the driving force behind making this happen.
The 45-acre site is an absolute treasure, located on the “Naval Radio Receiving Facility” (NRRF) Base in Imperial Beach, California. In 1941, this station became part of Naval history as it transmitted the first news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to Headquarters in Washington DC.
In 1973 Camp S.U.R.F. served sixty boys and girls. In 1974, Founding Camp Director Dick Mason provided service to many Scout and Church groups, while also developing YMCA Resident Camping programs. Dick is credited with creating the Mariner, Waterman and Beachcomber village names, which remain to this day.
With the tireless efforts of Mason, many of the original Quonset Huts were replaced, new dining and bathroom facilities were built, and the camp gradually moved from a day-use-only facility to a Resident Camping center.
In 1993, with the leadership of Camp Board Members Jeff Wohler, Ron Rouse and Jim Eischen, along with the support of California Senators Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Congressmen Brian Bilbray, and the San Diego Board of Supervisors, legislation from the United States Congress authorized a 50-year lease for the operation of YMCA Camp Surf
In 2009 YMCA Camp Surf celebrated it’s 40th birthday capping the year off with an alumni reunion and dedication. All 3 founders of YMCA Camp Surf were represented:
Camp Director Richard “Dick” Mason
Director of Camping for the YMCA of San Diego County, Valentine “Val” Hoy
Bill Fargo’s children- Retired Admiral Thomas B. Fargo, Retired Captain Keith Fargo and Barbara Fargo
In 2011 YMCA Camp Surf welcomed the first campers, staff, alumni and volunteers into the Jetty Shredder Crew. Jetty Shredders are campers or staff who’ve attended camp for at least 5 summers. Alumni who qualify as Jetty Shredders are invited to join us for an induction ceremony to sign the “Jetty Shredder” surfboard and receive their pin.
Today YMCA Camp Surf continues to serve the youth and families of San Diego County, reaching over 12,000 people annually.