The planning for our annual summer family vacation, which now includes more than 80 family members and friends, starts at the beginning of each year. Our annual “Wavehog” trip has many moving parts.

The “Wavehogs” will celebrate 32 years of camping together this year. The Wavehogs started when my brother “Big Foot” Ralph and his wife, “Doheny” Dora, and their children joined my wife, “Shoppin’” Sue, my children and me, the “Big Kahuna,” for a few nights camping at San Clemente.

Over the next 32 years, our annual summer camping trip would become almost as important as other traditional holidays for our children.

Because reserving the group site at our official Wavehog summer home at San Clemente State Beach is nearly impossible, and securing multiple regular campsites near each other has become equally challenging, we have finally grown so large, Wavehogs now stake our claim at two state beaches. Those who are able to get campsites continue the tradition at San Clemente. The other Wavehog families now go to Morro Strand State Beach.

And although we will be separated by 274 miles, it is with great pride that I know our Wavehog customs will continue at both San Clemente and Morro Bay campsites. No Wavehog will eat until group prayers are said before meals, crisscross applesauce saves your seat and once your ice chest hits the ground, it becomes community property for all — a few examples of family tradition built into our Wavehog DNA.

So if you are near San Clemente Beach or Morro Bay in the next few weeks and see a group of men watching over their barbecue pits, sun-burned children of all ages riding their bikes or playing games and a crowd of people dancing to the music of Ramon Ayala — all of this happening at the same time — you found the Wavehogs campsite.

Unload your ice chest and join in on fun and values built on 32 years of family beach tradition. Just remember, once your ice chest hits the ground…

Media Music Jam’s Final Note

The guitars have all been put away in their cases. Amplifiers have been unplugged. The goal for the Media Music Jam this year was to raise one dollar more than the $50,000 raised last year.

The Kern County Cancer Fund accepts the money raised and ensures it goes directly to treatment and related medical services for Kern County cancer patients.

Thanks to numerous generous sponsors, donations, multiple media performers, Thee Majestics and a sold-out Crystal Palace, MMJ raised a record $77,126 this year. As the producer for MMJ and a Kern County Cancer Fund board member, I pray we also raised hope among families whose limited resources are no match for the financial devastation cancer can bring.

The combined efforts of so many generous people will unquestionably help those qualifying Kern County cancer patients who sometimes have to choose between paying their rent or paying for their chemo.

You may not know this, but MMJ is a Wavehog family event. I am proud to say it is produced by a combined effort of my children, nieces, nephews, brothers, sister, aunts, uncles and family of the heart. Although not professional event coordinators by trade, our large and robust family uses skills honed with decades of planning weddings, birthday parties and just-because backyard family celebrations to excellent use for MMJ.

I am blessed in so many ways. One of which is I get to thank them all publicly in my column for their support, patience and love.

A year’s worth of planning, rehearsals and coordination may have come to an end, but the work to help those in need continues. I know no one in my circle of family and friends who have not been devastated by cancer. That would also include many of the media folks who performed at MMJ.

Someone wrote, “The greatness of an event should never overshadow the sadness of the need.” Having lost my bride of 40 years to cancer four years ago, I sadly understand those words.

I thank God Kern County is filled with so many people who have become partners in hope by choosing to help.

Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at floressteve32@yahoo.com. His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.

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