NAC | We Are Ocean Program

NAC | WAO Adventures are one, two and three day experiential programs centered around one or two ocean-based activities. Whether traveling via sailboat, canoe, SUP, outrigger or kayak, our participants will receive personalized training in the basic technique of each sport before and during each activity. The deep engagement in nature and sport, combined with the opportunity to witness the inspiring progress of fellow cancer patients and survivors provides an incredible context of healing and possibility. We provide tasty and nutritious communal meals throughout these adventures while the participants reflect on their respective journeys and setting a course toward the future.

Next Camp: September 30 – October 3, 2021


For WAO Founder Jack Marshall Shimko, helping young adult survivors of cancer to find purpose and meaning in their post treatment lives is more than just a mission, it’s a matter of personal survival. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma just days after his 29th birthday, Shimko followed up his arduous journey to remission with a 15 day, 260 mile, open-ocean ultramarathon, prone paddle boarding through the Channel Islands to raise money and awareness for advanced cancer treatment research. The journey, though brutal, was also transformative. Through countless paddle strokes, fatigue and injury, often wild seas and the fearful uncertainty of when the featureless horizon would reveal the distant islands toward which he paddled, Shimko found solace and healing as well as a deep sense of purpose. The purpose: to share the healing and restorative powers of engagement with the ocean with his fellow cancer survivors. We Are Ocean was born. Today, through the generous support of donors and volunteers, We Are Ocean has provided some 250 young adult cancer patients and survivors with rich immersive engagement in a wide variety of nautical pursuits, all grounded in a context of healing and deep community. The program, artfully captured by Richard Yelland in the award-winning 2015 documentary “Between Two Harbors,” provides participants a wide ranging opportunity to experience the regenerative, healing, and often humbling power of the ocean, as well as to connect and share experiences with fellow survivors, many of whom go on to become lifelong friends and confidants. For 2021 and beyond, We Are Ocean is proud to announce our inclusion as an official program of the Newport Aquatic Centers. We are grateful for their support and stewardship of the local environment and community.


Annually, 1st week in October at Whites Landing, Catalina Island

From the moment they depart Newport Beach for Catalina, the Newport Aquatic Center’s “Camp We Are Ocean” transports and transforms participants through its carefully curated menu of activity, challenge, community, and healing. Amidst the extraordinary island wilderness of Catalina Island’s, adult cancer survivors embark on a journey of adventure and discovery, as they learn and practice a diverse array of expertly guided ocean activities. Through surfing, diving, paddling, fishing, and sailing, participants discover new sensations and abilities, unlocking a sense of possibility and capacity, cementing and contextualizing the lessons back on land through guided reflections, restorative yoga, and meditation. Along the way, through connection and shared stories with fellow survivors, participants will be reminded that while the journey through cancer is arduous, the burden of experience, and the challenge of growing beyond it, is not theirs to bear alone. While the accommodations are rustic (canvas tents on wooden platforms), the sense of understanding and support brings comfort and security that even the most luxurious hotels can’t match. Participants return to shore, and their daily lives, with a renewed sense of purpose and possibility, new friends, and hopefully some healthy new habits, that they can carry with them through the remainder of their lives.

If you or a loved one are a cancer patient or survivor between the ages of 21 and 39, we invite you to apply to attend Camp We Are Ocean. Please be prepared to provide a note from your oncologist that it is safe for you to do so. Because we believe that healing and growth are best done in the community, participants are encouraged to fundraise $1000 to pay it forward to a future cancer survivor to help cover the costs of the camp experience ere appropriate. You can ask for donations to be made out to the Newport Aquatic Center on your behalf.

Apply Here

Support the NAC | WAO Programs

For We Are Ocean Founder and Newport Beach native Jack Marshall Shimko, a deep and ongoing engagement with the natural oceanic environment has always been core to his being. Indeed, he credits that engagement with saving his life during his own bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during his late 20’s, and has centered his post-treatment life around sharing the Ocean’s healing, enriching, and sustaining gifts with his fellow cancer survivors. Since 2012, We Are Ocean has provided carefully curated ocean and coastal wilderness experiences, camps, and programs for young adult survivors of cancer. For many participants, the sense of accomplishment and progress creates a lifelong habit of active engagement with the natural world, and a sense of peace and purpose that they carry forward on their post-treatment path. Importantly, We Are Ocean strives to make this vital healing modality available regardless of attendees’ ability to cover the significant financial costs associated. Since day one this work has only been possible with the generous support, partnership, and voluntarism of the Newport Beach and Orange County Community. We cannot express enough our gratitude for their continued generosity and support of the program. In 2021, We Are Ocean is proud to join the Newport Aquatic Center as an official program.