Ocean Experiences are for Everyone

There are thousands of children in our region who, despite living just miles from the coast, rarely have a chance to interact with the ocean in a meaningful way. 

At Sanibel Sea School, we have a commitment to those who otherwise wouldn't experience the ocean. Currently, we have partnerships with the Gladiolus Learning and Development Center, the Heights Foundation, the Pine Manor Improvement Association, Child Care of Southwest Florida, and numerous schools in Lee and Hendry Counties to offer unique outdoor learning experiences to local underprivileged children. Once a month or more, we meet with kids from these organizations to help them build confidence and gain an appreciation for science while exploring Sanibel’s diverse barrier island habitats with us.

After Hurricane Irma in September 2018, we offered a free Hurricane Camp to assist parents who needed to return to work with childcare before schools reopened. Then, we added Free Community Camp Days on select school holidays throughout the year.

Sanibel Sea School also offers tuition assistance to many island families throughout the year, whose children would otherwise be unable to attend summer camps and other programs. If you are concerned that your child may not be able to participate in one of our programs due to cost, please contact us for more information.

Our Outreach Partners

The Gladiolus Learning and Development Center

The Gladiolus Learning and Development Center provides early education to all children, and focuses on raising financial support for children of low-income working families. Their program gives children the chance to read, learn and play in a safe environment while their families work to make ends meet and put food on the table. Sanibel Sea School visits GLAD students in the classroom and hosts field trips to explore the ocean each month.

The Heights Foundation

The Heights Foundation works to build strong, self-sufficient families in the Harlem Heights neighborhood in Fort Myers, Florida. Their mission is to support education and wellness, promote family and community development, and provide the benefits of enrichment and the arts. Harlem Heights is a severely distressed community, with kids living in poverty at twice the rate of the rest of Lee County. Sanibel Sea School’s educators provide a combination of monthly field trips and classroom visits for Heights Foundation students.

The Pine Manor Improvement Association

The Pine Manor Improvement Association provides services to approximately 3,000 children and families that are at risk in the Pine Manor area of Fort Myers. Pine Manor is one of five neighborhoods designated by the Lee County Board of Commissioners as in need of direct social service delivery. The nonprofit’s mission is to equip, educate and empower the families, individuals and children of Pine Manor for a better quality of life. Sanibel Sea School hosts the organization’s Teen Program participants for weekend field trips to explore and enjoy the beach.

Child Care of Southwest Florida

Child Care of Southwest Florida works to strengthen the lives of vulnerable preschool children and their families. They have been providing services to children, families, and child care professionals in Southwest Florida for more than 50 years. Sanibel Sea School hosts multiple student groups from CCSWFL each month, both at the beach and in the classroom.

School Groups

Teachers in Lee and Hendry County Schools have limited funds available to plan field trips, but a strong desire to provide meaningful enrichment to their students outside the classroom. Sanibel Sea School’s scholarship fund subsidizes the cost of field trips for numerous school groups each year. We bring students to Sanibel to experience the ocean in a manner that corresponds with their curriculum and reinforces recent classroom learning.

Other Community Programs

Hurricane Camp

After Hurricane Irma in September 2018, many parents had to return to work before schools reopened. We saw an opportunity to support our community with a free camp, so students would have a safe place to go during the day while many families were struggling to pay for other hurricane related costs. The program was a success, and led to the development of our Free Community Camp Days.

Free Community Camp Days

After Hurricane Irma, we received so much support and gratitude for our free Hurricane Camp program. Many parents expressed how difficult it can be to organize childcare when schools are closed, and what a relief it is to know that your kids are safe and happy during the day. This feedback helped us realize a perfect opportunity to give back to our community. In early 2018, we started to offer Free Community Camp Days for local students on select school holidays. These programs are first come, first served, and each child is limited to two days per year to ensure that there is space for everyone to attend.

Red Tide Monitoring

After the severe red tide event during the summer of 2018, Sanibel Sea School started to assist SCCF with red tide monitoring. Our staff members collect and analyze water samples on the east end of Sanibel on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Data will be available on our website soon.