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Registration open for Sanibel Sea School summer camps

March 22, 2017
By MEGHAN McCOY (mmccoy@breezenewspapers.com) , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

It's that time of year again to sign up youngsters for the many ocean related summer camps offered through the Sanibel Sea School.

"We are trying to do a lot of our old favorites, but keep expanding to accommodate those new interests. We are trying to get more teen programs to kind of capture that audience," Sanibel Sea School Director of Education Nicole Finnicum said of the summer camps.

The first week of summer camp begins May 29 and runs through Aug. 7. This year the camps will be held at the Sanibel Sea School flagship campus, 455 Periwinkle Way, Sundial, 1451 Middle Gulf Drive and Canterbury School, 8141 College Parkway in Fort Myers.

Article Photos

Wahine Toa,” which is being offered for the second time, will be held June 19 through June 23 for girls 13 to 18 years old.

PHOTO PROVIDED

For the second year, three weeks of island skills camps will be held at the Sundial campus. Those include "Mangrove Mud" May 29, through June 2; "Watch me Swim, Crab" June 5, through June 9 and "Loggerhead" July 31, through Aug. 4.

New this year, through a partnership with Canterbury School in Fort Myers, the Sanibel Sea School will hold camps at their campus not only to make them more accessible to those who live in Fort Myers, but to expand their camps due to the high demand on the island. The Canterbury School camps will begin June 12 through June 16 with "the un-cuddly cuttlefish week" for prek4 to first grade. The other weeks include "Moon Jelly" week, "Nurse Shark in the Dark" week and "The Vegetarian Fighting Conch" week.

"That way those people that we have had on the wait list in the past, we can offer them a week of camp," Finnicum said. "Even though we will be based in Fort Myers, we will be traveling to the beach every single day. We will either go to Bunche Beach, the Causeway Islands, or bring them all the way to Sanibel. Canterbury will be providing the bus for that."

The teenage offerings, Finnicum said will include paddleboarding June 26 through June 30, and a fishing camp July 3 through July 7. An independent science research camp will also be held with the Canterbury School from July 17, through July 28.

"That tags onto their independent science research program, which is basically a course that students enroll in the fall and helps them design their science fair project for the year. We are condensing that and putting a Sea School spin on that by putting it into a two week session. It is designed for the kids to complete their science fair project, collect their data and begin analyzing their data. We are going to help them formulate their questions and their hypothesis. It is great for those kids that are so busy during the fall with their regular course work, extracurriculars, so they can get it done and out of the way in the summer," she said. "The research that we will be doing for the science fair projects will all be sand dollar based. It piggy backs on the research we are doing here as an institution."

Sanibel Sea School is offering 11 consecutive weeks of island skills camps at the flagship campus.

Finnicum said the coral reef camp is one of the popular weeks held at the Sanibel Sea School. In the past, she said they have only held one coral reef camp for youngsters 11 to 15 year olds. This year, the camps will be broken into two different weeks - ages 11-12 July 10, through July 15, and the following week, July 17, through July 21, will be for 13-15 year olds.

This year there are 32 spots for each week.

"It's great because we can fill the demand that there is because it is one of our most popular weeks. We can really tailor the academics to those age groups because we find that an 11 year old is very different academically than a 15 year old. We can really tailor those activities and for the older group we can build upon what they did in the younger week, or their first week of coral reef week," Finnicum said.

Both of the camps are held at Big Pine Key, in the Keys. She said they camp in rustic camp sites in tents right on the ocean. She said they spend a lot of time doing hardcore science - embryology with sea urchins, sponge dissections and learn about invertebrates, back at camp. The week also includes snorkeling out at the reefs.

"This is a lot of the kids first time that they have been out to a big reef in crystal clear water," Finnicum said of Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary.

Another new adventure this summer will be a trip to Belize, July 29, through Aug. 5 for those 15 to 18 years old.

"We are also going to be focusing on coral reefs in this trip, but it will be more of a coral reef expedition," Finnicum said.

The camp is for those who feel comfortable in the water and have participated in the coral reef camp in the Keys. This particular camp will allow the youngsters to participate in their own research on a small patch reef.

Sanibel Sea School staff teaches the campers the tools and techniques they need to conduct their research before being broken into different teams. Finnicum said they study the seagrass, the invertebrates, fish and sponges.

"They kind of monitor the health of that patch reef and we will go back year after year and be able to see how it has changed," she said.

Another new program is Canoeing the Caloosahatchee for those 13 to 18 years old July 24, through July 28. Those interested in this camp need to have completed the paddleboard camp, so Sanibel Sea School staff knows they are comfortable in the wilderness with minimal resources. The canoe expedition will take the campers from Lake Okeechobee to the bay, down the Caloosahatchee River. Finnicum said the camp will work on wilderness survival skills.

"We are going to be paddling down the river and stopping at a few camp sites on the river along the way," she said. "We are trying to embrace this more to see how the river is the connection between inland and ocean. It is such an important connection that we have. We will be able to see the transitions and changes along the way."

Another camp, "Have Paddleboard, Will Survive" will be held June 12, through June 16 for ages 13 to 18. For the second year,"Wahine Toa," will be held June 19, through June 23, for girls 13 to 18 years old.

"It was such a success last year. All the girls absolutely loved it, so we are excited to offer that again," Finnicum said.

The Counselor in Training program, for ages 13 to 18, is also apart of the offerings at the Sanibel Sea School.

"They do enroll in camp, but it is more of a leadership program where we help them develop their skills as young peer leaders. They are sort of the bridge between our campers and counselors," she said. "We work on goal development, we have meetings at the end of every day where we talk about what went well, what did not go well and what we can improve the next day."

Before they attend the first day of camp, the teens have to finish a three hour online course. Those who enroll in the CIT program can use the hours as service, or volunteer hours.

In addition to the island skills camp, the Sanibel Sea School flagship campus also offers camps for ages 6-13 with a few weeks just for 4 to 6 year olds.

"They have specific sea creature themes and we do different activities sort of celebrating that theme and learning more about that theme, whether it be manatees, sea stars, or sharks. We learn about that topic for that whole week and do all kinds of activities that relate to it," she said.

Although some of the camps have already filled to its capacity, there are many options still left for the youngsters. To view the complete list, visit www.sanibelseaschool.org.

 
 

 

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