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Newport Beach

Volume 5, Issue 54  |  July 7, 2020

Take Five: Meet Jonathon Harmon, Newport Beach recreation manager


COVID-19 blew up summer plans, from globetrotting adventures to sleepaway camps. But in Newport Beach, there have been some bright spots. First, Junior Guards was expanded from the original plan of only allowing the A guards to participate. And on June 12, Orange County moved into early Stage 3 of the Governor’s COVID-19 reopening plan, a plan that includes pools and day camps. I reached out to Newport Beach Recreation Manager Jonathon Harmon to find out how the city’s summer programs will look this year with the most recent developments.

Take Five Meet Jonathon Harmon

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Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

Jonathon Harmon

Q: It’s been a little over a week since the governor’s reopening orders were amended to include day camps and outdoor recreational activities, with modifications. What has been the reaction from Newport Beach residents to the news?

A: The reaction has been positive and well received. When the Recreation & Senior Services Department announced over Instagram and Facebook that we would indeed be offering summer camps, we had a very enthusiastic response from our residents. Our front desk staff are receiving a lot of questions from the community on the exact camps and activities permitted. The phones are certainly busy which feels “normal” for summertime.

Q: What will Newport Beach’s summer recreation programs look like this year, under the modifications?

A: The most significant modification is all of our programs will take place outdoors this summer, as our community centers remain closed.  Camps and classes will also require distancing and groups of 10 or less. Our ratio of participants to instructors will be 10 to 1. Campers and participants might also notice our frequent cleaning and sanitizing breaks during camps. Our motto this year is focus on the fun, and we are going to do that by offering many of the summer camps our residents and visitors love.

Q: What programs are taking place, and which ones will be on hold for the summer of 2020?

A: Our team has put together a great amount of camps this summer including our most popular surf camps, basketball and multi-sport camps, skateboarding, beach volleyball, and art camps. Unfortunately, we had to pause our favorite culinary, aquatics, and gymnastics camps this year. No doubt they will be back and better than ever. Check in with us often at as our list of weekly camps continues to increase. Or visit for a sortable list of camps we are offering. All of these listed camps have been approved to meet state and county safety guidelines. If an activity you’re interested in has a waitlist, please add your camper to that waitlist. These camps are intended to run as long as the minimum number of participants is met. Call us if you have any questions or check the City of Newport Beach Instagram account often for exciting information on our camps and summer activities. Our team is here to help you and your family have a great summer outside in Newport Beach.

Q: What kind of online services has staff been providing during the shutdown? Will that continue this summer?

A: Staff launched the Online Recreation Center, or ORC as we call it, in March. It was a quick pivot into the virtual recreation and senior services world, but we are excited about the programs and resources being offered. We currently have Pilates, music, a wide variety of STEM classes, and art and culture for seniors, to name a few. The ORC also includes unique nature and outdoor resources through our partners at the Environmental Nature Center and Back Bay Science Center. We have no intention of taking the ORC offline, and it is something we will continue if the need and demand remains. I have found even in these challenging times, the ORC truly fulfills our mission to provide programs to people of all ages. We could not be more proud to show it off, so please visit the ORC at and stay active and engaged this summer.

Q: What is your personal favorite summer activity typically offered in Newport Beach, and what is its status? (If it will not take place this year, is there a substitute. If it will, how will it be modified?)

A: My 4-year-old son loves everything sports, so our favorite is the multi-sport camps. He is excited for Camp Playball, which is a learning based, high energy camp, where they play a variety of different sports and activities – perfect for my preschooler. These multi-sport camps take place outside at our parks so they will be running with the distancing and a 10 to 1 ratio this summer. 


Amy Senk is a longtime resident of Corona del Mar and a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.

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