Harbour Views: Creating a beach boy from Canada


School is out and summer is here! And like the rest of Surf City U.S.A., we’re getting ready for summer vacation visitors. My just turned 18-year-old nephew is arriving from Canada in two weeks for an extended stay. Albeit, not as “extended” as he would have liked … when it came time to book a return date to fly home, he told his father not to! (Uh, nobody asked us if he could move in. Am I going to have to call Immigration Enforcement?)

Shortly thereafter, he revealed his plans to take a year off “to travel” before enrolling in college…which was followed up shortly thereafter with his revealing a new tattoo.  According to his grandparents who live across the street from him in Midland, Ontario, he’s a “good kid” and “won’t be any trouble,” which is probably what they would have said about my husband Andrew when he was 18 (then again, maybe not)…nonetheless, the nephew is due to fly home at the end of August.

Now, I know exactly what we’re getting into. Andrew and I are former foster parents of teenage boys. (Our only criteria going in was a kid at least out of diapers, but when we asked “What’s the greatest need for foster homes?” the agency director answered, “Teenaged boys.”

He was more than a little surprised when we said “okay,” but 13 years later, my little girls have grown-up big brothers. And we survived.

So how to keep a teenager who has spent his entire life in a small town two hours north of Toronto out of trouble in Huntington Beach? That’s a good question…if you have any suggestions let me know! From what I can see, the preferred hangout for teens around Huntington Harbour are the beaches. Although the Westminster and Bella Terra malls are also popular, the kids seem younger, likely a “got dropped off by mom or dad” crowd. There frequently is a gaggle of kids ignoring the posted signs and jumping off the bridges in the Harbour. (If that’s the height of mischief, I’ll take it.)

According to the city’s website, Huntington Beach was named “One of the Top Five Destinations for Teenagers and Their Parents” by the New York Post in 2004. I called Visit Huntington Beach (formerly known as the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau), to find out exactly what there is for teenage tourists to do.

Joseph was most helpful, confirming what I already suspected, “the beaches are popular” and suggesting surfing or stand up paddleboard lessons. (I already got the nephew a certificate for surfing lessons for his birthday with Corky Carroll’s Surf School at Bolsa Chica State Beach.) Joseph said there are “lots of things for an 18 year old to do” but cautioned the downtown area “may not be on his radar so much” due to the number of bars and the people, at least in the evening hours, skewing older.

One new thing Joseph hit on that didn’t occur to me is the recently opened Vans “Off the Wall” Skatepark on Center Drive near Costco. When I told Joseph my nephew is bringing his longboard skateboard with him, he said the Vans Skatepark is where he’ll likely spend most of his time. Fantastic idea, although I suspect it may rate second compared to the beaches, or more specifically, the girls on the beaches.

I think he’s going to have a great summer.

Lara Anderson is a resident of Huntington Harbour, former mayor of Dana Point, and a Broker/Agent with Coldwell Banker Beachside Realtors. She can be reached at (949) 677-4099 or email: LA@LaraAnderson.com.


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