Teen friends organize summer camp


Most teenagers are content to attend summer camp or spend a few weeks working at one. But Alanna DiPinto and Kelsey O’Neill, two 13-year-old Carmel Valley girls, decided to start their own summer camp.

Fun Diego welcomes participants, ages 4 through 9, to Carmel Creek Park on Aug. 10 to 14 and Aug. 17 to 21.

“We want to give kids a really great summer camp experience,” Alanna said.

Kelsey said it’s also about giving moms and dads a chance to run errands, grab a coffee or squeeze in a workout, leaving their children in capable hands.

“We want parents to have a little break before school starts,” Kelsey said.

The girls, who have been inseparable since they were Solana Pacific fifth-graders, said they love working with children. They enjoy babysitting, spent last summer working as camp counselors at Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Critter Camp and both are junior lifeguards.

Fun Diego will feature activities such as playing games, writing camp journals, making sand castles, blowing bubbles, jumping rope, Hula-Hooping, playing T-ball, singing and even a theater production.

“Each kid gets their own chance to star,” said Kelsey of the play.

Giving back is also really important to the girls. The camp costs $80, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Rady Children’s Hospital.

In addition to the fun and games, they are trying to share the message of giving with their campers. One day of the week, they will encourage campers to bring stuffed animals for children in need. Another day, they will host a canned food drive.

Other camp activities will include making cards for soldiers overseas and drawing pictures for nursing home patients.

“I always think about how much we have,” Alanna said. “We’re given so much that other people deserve for us to give something to them.”

The fact their daughters had such strong initiative to run a camp during the summer didn’t come as a surprise to moms Trisha DiPinto and Carolyn O’Neal.

DiPinto said both girls do a lot of volunteer work and O’Neal marveled at how well organized the girls are, having dutifully planned out all their camp activities and made up a list of frequently-asked questions for parents.

“They are adorable, genuine and sweet girls,” O’Neal said.

This fall, the inseparable girls will head off to freshman year at separate schools, Kelsey to Torrey Pines and Alanna to Canyon Crest Academy. They aren’t too worried.

The Aug. 10 to 14 camp sessions run from 1 to 4 p.m. and Aug. 17 to 21 from noon to 3 p.m. To register, e-mail