Campers paddled out to perform chants and songs for Sanibel's sharks. 

Campers paddled out to perform chants and songs for Sanibel's sharks. 

Our first week of Winter Camp 2016 was a celebration of Polynesian Ocean Traditions. Surrounded by vast seas, cultures living in Polynesia must sustain their lives using the ocean as their primary resource. As a result, they have become intimately connected with the sea, and understand its creatures, cycles, and power perhaps better than anyone else in the world.

Camp groups performed their hula dances for shoppers at Bailey's General Store. 

Camp groups performed their hula dances for shoppers at Bailey's General Store. 

Polynesian Ocean Traditions campers learned about these strong, wise water people and participated in activities to honor and learn about them. We wrote songs and chants like the Shark Callers of New Guinea, and paddled out in our canoes to perform them for our local cartilaginous predators. We went seining for fish to better understand what life would be like if we had to catch our own dinner, then we let the sun and stars guide us through a navigational scavenger hunt, since Polynesians are skilled sailors and navigators.

A Counselor-In-Training helps a camper create a handmade flower necklace, called a lei, to wear during her hula performance. 

A Counselor-In-Training helps a camper create a handmade flower necklace, called a lei, to wear during her hula performance. 

We also crafted our own leis and grass skirts, gave each other henna tattoos of traditional Polynesian symbols to represent our personal strengths and individuality, and wrote and performed hula dances during a holiday “flash mob” at Bailey’s General store.

Campers practiced their surfing skills during Polynesian Ocean Traditions Week. 

Campers practiced their surfing skills during Polynesian Ocean Traditions Week. 

Because this is Sanibel Sea School, of course we surfed, tied macramé, and enjoyed a (luau-themed) cookout and Milk and Cookies Slideshow at the end of the week. Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more, visit sanibelseaschool.org

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