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San Clemente Journal

The Practice of Play.

May 22, 2014 08:11AM ● By Don Kindred

Sparky with the Friends of San Clemente's Sports Hall of Fame Committee.

by Don Kindred

I call them “Friends of San Clemente”, it’s simpler. 
The official, non-profit corporate name is a mouthful:  The Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks and Recreation Foundation. But nobody ever gets it right. FSCBPRF is even too long to abbreviate. 

“Friends” is good. We formed at the beginning of this century ...  well, twelve years ago, but it seems longer than that. We were just a small group of citizens who came together for mostly the same reasons that we all moved here. It wasn’t the little Spanish houses, with apologies to the historical society. 

It was the soul of the place; the beaches, the parks and all the ways that we could enjoy them. It was the golf course, the public swimming pool, by God, it was that “healthy joy out of life”  that Ole Hanson began promising our citizens back in 1925. That’s why we came here. 

In a word it was the ‘recreation’, the worthy use of leisure time. Whether we’re surfing or swinging a golf club, kicking a soccer ball or swimming laps, it’s what we do because we want to. It’s not the “how” we make our living, it’s the “why.” It’s the opportunity to re-create ourselves and the physical spaces where we practice what we play. That’s where the real beauty of our 
community is.

Nobody really knows who the “Friends” are. I guess that’s OK. Truth is, we had set out with a rather undetermined course in 2000. Like the novice sailors on the old SS Minnow we had the doctor, the professor and even a MaryAnn(a) and our biggest mission was to find our mission. We really just wanted to help.

A dozen years later the “Friends” have become a vehicle to support our city recreation department a step beyond what the general city budget might afford. We’ve helped to bring the “Bands to the Beach” with a summer series of concerts at the pier. The friends have brought snow to the community center lawn on a warm December day and even brought the Easter Bunny to San Gorgonio Park. We've crowned “Champions of the City” in annual skateboarding and surfing competitions and we’ve taught a thousand seniors how to send an e-mail on their own computers at our Cyber Café. Oh, and we bring that Carnival to town once a year. A long the way, we’ve helped to incubate other organizations that have helped to build Baron’s Dog Park, Courtney’s SandCastle, and the San Clemente Aquatics Team’s spectacular new home. 
Actually, I guess we’re not doing too bad.

On January 26th, current “Friends” President Dr. Tom Wicks presented a check to the Mayor for 
almost a quarter of a million dollars at a private opening of the San Clemente Aquatics Center in the new Vista Hermosa Sportspark. It was a chance to celebrate an achievement, and we did. It is quite a facility. It opens officially on February 25th and it is yours San Clemente. You will be proud of it. 

Mark Cousineau, the ‘Friends” first President, had insisted back in 2000 that we needed another swimming pool in this town, he was right. We started the organization with a $1,000 personal check from a man named Jim Johnson at the Lusk Co, who has since passed away. The early board was Dr. Bill Thomas, Professor Kevin O’Conner, Bill Hart, Steve Swartz, Dan Feinberg, Lynna Youngerman, Mary Anna Anderson, the late historian Dorothy Fuller and our late former-Mayor Stephanie Dorey. .. and me.

Our current board members include the additions of Jim Nielsen, Jeff Hartmann, John Dorey, Peggy Vance, Tamara Tatich, George Caravalho, and an underpaid staff of one, secretary Judy Eaker. Our city reps are Sharon Heider and Pam Passow.

In my eyes, there were always two stars off the bow of the group’s horizon, they were twin beacons on a bluff that gave direction and purpose to our efforts. One,of course, was to protect and expand the recreational opportunities available for our community and the other, the vital one, was to guarantee, that those expanded opportunities would not be denied to any child or senior citizen of this city, simply because they could not afford it. We call that the City Scholarship Program. 

We are the Friends of San Clemente... for $35 a year, you can be one too, join us,