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Ocean Science Camp for Youth

The Issue

Compared to other developed countries, school children in the U.S. rank poorly in science and math scores. Many people today are concerned that we will lose our competitive edge in the global economy unless we train our youth to apply scientific methods and new technologies, particularly in the use and management of our finite natural resources.

What Has ANR Done?

Marine Advisor Rick Starr has worked with leading educators, business people, scientists, researchers and resource managers in Central California to establish a national ocean science camp for children: Camp SEA Lab Monterey Bay. The goal is to use community resources to provide children with an appreciation for science, resource conservation and potential marine-related careers. In partnership with local and regional businesses, educational institutions and resource agencies, Camp SEA Lab programs provide adventures for youth that are grounded in real-life experiences.

In 2002, the first full summer of operation, 110 students participated in the SEA Lab program, which integrates inquiry-based, hands-on science activities with exposure to working professionals in the fields of marine science and advanced technology. In delivering the program, Camp SEA Lab worked with 19 regional institutions. As a result, SEA campers interacted with coastal naturalists, watershed educators, marine biologists, deep-sea engineers and technicians, research divers, coastal managers, marine mammal trainers and specialists, and the owners and staff of coastal related businesses. Science not only became a fun adventure, but also presented realistic options for careers. Enrollment in the camp programs is expected to double in 2003.

The Payoff

Improved science education for youth

After just one year, participant responses in written evaluations as well as one-on-one interviews show that Camp SEA Lab positively affects youth and the Monterey Bay community. The campers, many of whom had never before experienced Monterey Bay at first hand, are proud at having overcome fears and tried new activities, kayaking and snorkeling in particular. As the 2002 week-long program progressed, SEA Campers became enthusiastic and noticeably more confident, asking questions and sharing perceptions about science. Many expressed interest in continuing their education about the oceans, wanting to know how they could stay involved in ocean protection.

Camp SEA Lab also had significant indirect impacts on the families, friends, teachers, scout leaders and neighbors of participants. One parent wrote “This was the best thing my son did all summer! When are you going to have a program for the entire family?”

Clientele Testimonial

“SEA Lab was really cool. It showed me all kinds of potential for the future.” SEA Camper, Summer 2002.


Supporting Unit: Santa Cruz County

UCCE Santa Cruz County, 1432 Freedom Blvd., Watsonville, CA 95076, (831)763-8040