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 the NAC / We Are Ocean Cancer Program is to provide ocean-based, transformational adventures for teens and young adults (15-39) fighting and surviving cancer. The 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 consist of day long trips in and around Newport Beach, California. Each single day experiential adventure will focus on a different ocean-based discipline, such as Paddling, Sailing or Surfing. Participants will receive personalized instruction in the basic technique of each sport before and during each activity. Participants will follow up each activity day with a healthy communal meal at the Newport Aquatic Center, where folks can reflect on their adventure, connect further and sign up for future adventures.

We are stoked to announce our partnership with Marina Sailing! Marina sailing will provide professional sailing instruction, support and guidance for our local adventures and the sailing component at Camp WAO on Catalina Island, Ca this summer.

We thought it would be fitting to celebrate this new partnership by offering a sailing adventure for local teen & young adult cancer fighters & survivors on Saturday, July 22nd from 2-5pm & BBQ to follow at the Newport Aquatic Center.
This adventure is free and limited to 12 spots. ONLY register if you can commit to the date and the entire time of the adventure.
About Marina Sailing //
Marina Sailing is Southern California’s oldest and largest sailing charter and instruction company. Started in 1962, their six locations along the coast offer a wide range of boats from 22 to 50 feet, including monohulls, catamarans, and powerboats. They offer an extensive list of ASA courses and classes, most notably their Complete Sailing Course & Ultimate Sailing Course.


Local Overnight Adventures are one & two nigh 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 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. 

Registration is open, if you or a loved one are a cancer survivor, we invite you to LEARN MORE AND APPLY to one of our upcoming camps this summer or fall.

Learn More and Apply

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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.