Sanibel Sea School welcomed a whole herd of happy campers last week, with three camp programs running simultaneously for the first time ever. Kids ages 4-18 enjoyed the opportunity to connect with Sanibel’s unique ecosystems in new and exciting ways.

First-time snorkelers test the waters during Shark Pups Week. 

First-time snorkelers test the waters during Shark Pups Week. 

The youngest campers, ages 4-6, spent Shark Pups Week exploring what it’s like to be a baby shark. Many of them tried snorkeling for the very first time, and swam bravely into the seagrass beds with their counselors in search of baby shark food. A shark pup obstacle course helped us learn about the challenges baby sharks face while growing up, and because the rough texture of a shark’s skin helps her glide through the water, we made our own textured fins and went for a swim!

The Real Deal Shark Week campers paddle in search of sharks. 

The Real Deal Shark Week campers paddle in search of sharks. 

Older campers (ages 6-13) headed over to our campus at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, where the topic was also sharks. The Real Deal Shark Week was all about celebrating how awesome these apex predators really are, no television required. We practiced shark tooth identification (then made our own shark tooth necklaces!), built life-size shark replicas in the sand, made shark art, and even dissected a shark! Participants were fascinated to learn that sharks have more senses than humans – in addition to our five, they can detect pressure changes with their lateral line and use electroreception to locate prey.

Have Paddleboard, Will Survive campers arrive at Picnic Island for an overnight test of their survival skills. 

Have Paddleboard, Will Survive campers arrive at Picnic Island for an overnight test of their survival skills. 

Have Paddleboard, Will Survive Camp offered plenty of adventures for our teenage campers, who paddled many miles throughout the week and learned both urban and wilderness survival skills – everything from changing a tire to starting a fire! They put these skills to the test with a very rainy camping trip to Picnic Island on Thursday night and an epic Paddle to Doc Ford’s in Fort Myers Beach on Friday. We think it’s safe to say that everyone returned home with a well-deserved sense of accomplishment.

Sanibel Sea School is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. To learn more, visit www.sanibelseaschool.org. 

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