Campers prepare for their overnight adventure on Picnic Island.

Campers prepare for their overnight adventure on Picnic Island.

Last week was hot, buggy, and sometimes very rainy, but our first-ever “Have Paddleboard, Will Survive” camp was still deemed “the best Sanibel Sea School experience in history” by more than one camper.

Eight teenagers and two counselors spent the week exploring Sanibel’s ecosystems by paddleboard and practicing first aid and survival skills along the way. We mapped the canals, competed in an epic scavenger hunt, and camped out on Picnic Island with only paddleboards, sheets, and US Military Meals Ready-to-Eat.

Metin Basturk finds shelter from the sun with a good book on Picnic Island. 

Metin Basturk finds shelter from the sun with a good book on Picnic Island. 

Campers supplemented their rations with fresh pen shells gathered from San Carlos Bay, which camper Kristen Dunavant described as “not that bad.” The group endured a heavy storm under a shared tarp, and slept atop their boards in a mostly unsuccessful attempt to stay dry. “I’m not sure how it’s possible to feel freezing cold during June in Southwest Florida, but we were shivering all night,” says counselor Nicole Ogden. The whole group survived the experience, paddled back to shore after a detour to Tarpon Bay, and enjoyed coffee and donuts on the causeway.

Campers also had the option to paddle to Fort Myers Beach on Friday for a celebratory lunch at Doc Ford’s. Congratulations to the five who braved the long journey successfully – Aneta Szmekova, Jacob Lemmon, Kristen Dunavant, Luke Kalhorn, and Salem Clemens – we are so impressed by your determination and endurance!

A big thank you to Sanibel Service Station, Doc Ford’s Fort Myers Beach, Island Condo Maintenance, Tim Barrett of Sanibel Fire and Rescue, Kialoa Paddles, and BIC Paddleboards for their support. Sanibel Sea School is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. For more information, visitwww.sanibelseaschool.org.

 

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