In the early 90’s Greg Bonann, a Los Angeles county lifeguard and creator of the world famous television series Baywatch, talked about the concept of having a “Baywatch theme related camp.” After a year of hearing him talk about the idea, Tai Collins, a freelance writer for the show spoke up. She asked Bonann if he was serious about the summer camp. He loved the idea, but due to the heavy demands of executive producing and directing the series, he simply didn’t have the time needed to bring it into fruition.
Collins, with a background in mission work and after school programs, offered to help. She was already working with children at the Chernow House homeless shelter and her thought was to make this a camp for homeless and inner city youth – kids who could most benefit from the experience. Kids who live in poverty and around gang influence and violence. Kids who could easily choose the wrong path without productive and creative outlets to develop and discover their dreams.
Greg’s vision was to give these children a chance to experience the beach, fresh air, and a place to run. He wanted them to learn to swim, be water safe, have knowledge of CPR, and have happy memories to hold on to.
In 1994, Camp Baywatch came to life at Pepperdine University. The school became the home of the first annual week long camp. “Camp Baywatch” quickly became more than just a summer camp. We offered a variety of programs starting in kindergarten – seeing as many youth as possible through to college.
We knew to make a real and significant difference; long-term relationships and programs were needed to inspire kids to believe in themselves. The greatest way to do that is through giving them something to do – to be creative, to play, to have goals and dreams and help them develop those dreams by positive reinforcement – using sports, positive role models, a variety of programs, college scholarships, and life skills though jobs.
The foundation continues to grow and evolve offering more and more programs to youth and their families each year.
Just as the foundation has grown and evolved, our name changed and evolved as well to become more reflective of what we do. Baywatch ended its long television run and with that ending the foundation took on a new name – A Chance for Children Foundation.
The foundation has grown and changed in other ways. At one time we served youth from all over the US and often sponsored youth from other countries (as far away as New Zealand) enabling them to have the “camp”” experience. Over the years, being a complete volunteer organization, our focus became the “at-risk” youth of inner city Los Angeles.
Gangs start recruiting kids now as young as second grade. And statistics show the as many as fifteen million children nationwide have no place to go after school. These children are more likely to be victims of crime or to participate in bad behavior. We believe that with something positive to do our youth will dream bigger.
Tai and Greg have watched their own dream become real. They have now watched a generation of youth grow into adulthood seeing lives touched and changed firsthand. One of the things they are most proud of is that the majority of their volunteers are the youth and parents who have come through the program coming back to give of themselves.
A Chance for Children Foundation is dedicated to children. We know that kids go where there is excitement… but they stay where there is love.
A Chance for Children strives to empower at-risk youth by providing the opportunities to set goals and the tools to achieve them. We fight to instill the belief that no child is limited by their surroundings or upbringing. By encouraging dreams and consistently exposing them to new experiences outside the dangers and struggles of their daily lives each child will have a chance for a better future.
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