NAC / We Are Ocean Program


We Are Ocean was started by Jack Marshall Shimko in 2012 as a non-profit corporation and became a part of the NAC in 2021 as an official program.

This year alone, some 87,500 teens and young adults will be diagnosed with cancer. Most will fight back through conventional means, but at NAC / We Are Ocean we take them out of the chemo wards and ferry them deep into ocean-based adventures.

The primary mission of NAC / We Are Ocean Cancer Program is to provide ocean-based, transformational adventures for teens and young adults (15-39) fighting and surviving cancer. NAC / We Are Ocean Cancer Program focuses on bringing intimate groups of cancer fighters and survivors together in coastal wilderness environments while providing opportunities for connection, self-discovery, empowerment, support, and adventure.


Currently, we offer 4 tiers of ocean-based adventures, open to teens and young adult cancer fighters and survivors (between the ages 15-39).

1.) Local Day Adventures

2.) Local Overnight Adventures

3.) Weeklong Adventure Camps

4.) NAC / WAO Challenges

Note: We also offer Adventures for cancer fighters and survivors over the age of 39. Please email us at for future adventure opportunities. 

We consider the type of diagnosis, treatment type, remission history, age and other health factors while curating the most optimal group adventure experience for you. All participants must have our medical consent form signed by your Oncologist for ALL tiers of Adeventures / Challenges. Please visit our FAQ’s section for additional questions regarding our Program Eligibility Criteria.

If you are NAC / WAO Alumni and want to participate in upcoming adventures, please email us and we will keep you up to date with volunteering and leadership opportunities as well as upcoming reunions/meetups both in-person and our newly formed digital cancer community space. 

LOCAL DAY ADVENTURES: Come Surf, Sail, and Paddle With Us

Come Surf With Us – June 9th

Newport Beach, CA

Join us for a rad and safe experience surfing in our backyard—Newport Beach. Most importantly — this will be a day of connection with other young cancer fighters & supporters having a beautiful adventure on the ocean together.

*NO EXPERIENCE necessary.

Immediately following the surf adventure we will head over to the Newport Aquatic Center for a tasty and healthy lunch.

18 spots are available. These spots are reserved for cancer fighters who have never sailed with us before. *If there is space available we will open this up to folks who have previously sailed with us (stay tuned to our Instagram feed).

Want to join us for an adventure? Email



Local Overnight Adventures are one & two night trips located in Newport Beach, California and the surrounding area. Local Overnight Adventures include instruction and equipment in three different ocean-based sport disciplines: Paddling, Sailing and Surfing. Participants will receive personalized training in the basic technique of each sport before and during each activity. We provide tasty and nutritious communal meals throughout these adventures. In addition to sport instruction, we provide context and prompts for participants to reflect on their respective journeys and chart a course toward a rich and purposeful future. 


Note: Dates have not been selected and are based on demand. Please reach out if you are interested!



From the moment we depart for Catalina Island, California, the Newport Aquatic Center’s Camp WAO (We Are Ocean) transports and transforms participants via a carefully curated menu of activity, challenge, community, and healing. 

Over the span of four days amidst the extraordinary island wilderness of Catalina Island, teen and young adult cancer fighters (some in active treatment, some in remission) embark on a journey of adventure and self-discovery, as they learn and practice a diverse array of expertly guided ocean activities.

Through paddling various crafts like Outrigger canoes, Kayaks, Stand-Up & Prone paddleboards along with other activities like sailing, swimming, snorkeling, fishing and ocean education participants discover new sensations and abilities, expanding their sense of possibility and capability.

Back on land, we cement and contextualize each experience through journaling, guided reflection, restorative yoga, and meditation. Along the way, through connection and sharing with fellow cancer fighters, participants are reminded that while the journey through cancer is arduous, the burden of their experience, and the challenge of growing beyond it, is not borne alone. 

Deep engagement in nature and sport, as well as witnessing the inspiring progress of fellow cancer fighters, provides participants’ an incredible context of healing and reflection. Camp WAO guests return to shore 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. 

Camp WAO 2024 is on Catalina Island in California at Emerald Bay. Camp WAO 2024 begins on August 26th and ends on August 30th.

2023 Camp WAO (Session 1) Video

Learn More and Apply

Support 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.


Give the gift of connection, self-discovery & empowerment through NAC / We Are Ocean adventures.