Courtesy of IGFA
Courtesy of IGFA

Summer Camps – Kids Can Dive, Paddle, Fish, Explore & More

There’s nothing like being on the water when you’re a kid and it’s summer. Scuba, paddling, fishing and learning the ins and outs of marine science in a fun hands-on way, are the focus of several summer camps throughout the southeastern United States. Here is a sampling:

Go Boating. Kids ages 8- to 16-years can sail, canoe and kayak as well as waterski, wakeboard, fish, tube and pontoon boat at Sandy Hill Camp, located on over 200 acres in the Upper Chesapeake Bay, near North East, Md. “We’re at the headwater of the Chesapeake, so it’s fresh water with no sharks or jellyfish. It’s the perfect place for watersports as well as for campers to enjoy our 28 instructional activities that include land sports, arts, crafts and more,” says Greg Joseph, who owns and operates the camp with wife, Kathy. Self-confidence and independence are two life skills campers take home along with hands-on know-how such as learning to sail. The camp has a fleet of Laser Picos, Sunfish and an O’Day 39. A fireworks display for Fourth of July is always a much-anticipated event. One and two-week camp sessions are available for boys and girls from June 21 to August 14. Cost: $975 (5-nights), $2250 (12-nights). www.sandyhillcamp.com

Learn Coastal Ecology. Camp Sewee, set on 44-acres on the Intracoastal Waterway in Awendaw, S.C., near historic Charleston, offers week-long sleep-over marine science camps as part of Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute. “The program is an amazing exploration of the South Carolina coast and its numerous natural treasures, including the vast amount of water resources. Campers embark on a marine science expedition that includes boat rides, birding, an island study, crabbing, cast netting, nature hikes, salt marsh studies, ecosystem studies and night activities,” explains Mike Matthews, director of the Sewee Coastal Retreat Center. Camps for 8 to 18-year-olds run from June 7 to August 7. New is a teen week (ages 13- to 16) that takes place in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Cost: $555/week. seweesummer.camp

Paddle. Three-day camps (Tuesday to Thursday), that operate from June 2 through August 6, focusing on the fun of paddling in the waters around Tybee Island, Ga. “Each session spends time learning about tides and charts and how to use them in conjunction with wind reports. Each day we will use a different craft: kayak, canoe and standup paddleboard. This is a chance for kids to explore and learn about three kinds of watercraft and learn how to control the boats and boards in a fun way while learning to be self-sufficient in a natural environment,” says Marsha Henson, who with Ronnie Kemp owns and operates Sea Kayak Georgia. Some of the most fun activities are an exploration of Little Tybee Island, swim, on-water rescue training and picnic on a barrier island. New this year are camp dates catering to three different age groups: 8- to 10, 11- to 14 and 15 to 17 years. Camp hours: 9 am to 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. or 4 p.m. Cost: $50, $65 and $75. www.seakayakgeorgia.com/instruction/kids-kamp

Sport Fish. Spin and fly casting, jig and fly tying, and life skills such as observation, interpretation, critical thinking, and teamwork are what 7- to 13-year-old campers learn at 5-day summer camps held June 8 to August 14 and hosted by the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) in Dania Beach, Fla. “Campers spend a good majority of their time in the field, with three of each week’s days on field trips to locations in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami. Fishing is the name of the game so campers will learn to fish in freshwater and saltwater and every Friday will be spent on a drift boat fishing along the nearshore reefs off Miami Beach.  The weekly average for fish caught is around 800 fish, all of which are released using sound conservation-minded techniques,” explains IGFA’s education director, Jeff Mackin. Camp hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost: $325 (includes rod, reel and tackle box). www.igfa.org/Fun/Camps.aspx

Explore Marine Science. High school students immerse themselves in this hands-on, science-based week-long residential camp that puts them in the heart of Louisiana’s marine and coastal environments. Based in Chauvin, La., LUMCON’s Estuarine Awareness and Discovery Camp, June 21 to 27, is hosted by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and is ideal for teenagers considering a career in marine or environmental sciences. “Campers learn through engaging activities such as a cruise aboard a research vessel, vertebrate and invertebrate dissection labs, plant and animal population surveys, trips to barrier islands and canoe trips through the salt marsh,” says Jennifer ‘Murt’ Conover, senior marine educator. Cost: $225. www.lumcon.edu/education/K-12/LeadCamp/

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