This week marked the beginning of our Youth Program which meant we were out the door bright and early on Monday morning to ensure that we had enough time to set up at San Pedro High School. With construction and other programs at the High School we found ourselves with only one classroom and not enough chairs, so we moved half of our camp activities for the day into the auditorium. We started our camp book about Wallie the Whale Shark and her travels around the world, learned our first coral, and then set off on our annual camp-opening beach cleanup! It was a hot day but the campers persevered and we collected lots of trash from the surrounding beach.
Day two of camp was our first day of lessons, and we started with Whales and Microbes — some of the largest and smallest ocean creatures. Emiline made light traps the night before to collect water and ocean organisms that the kids were able to look at using little microscope boxes, and in the other classroom we calculated how many students would fit inside different kinds of whales! After concluding that the blue whale was the largest we took a trip outsicapde and tried to fit the whole class in the length of the blue whale. The scale of the whale matched up perfectly to the auditorium size, which was a nice visual for the kids to use to imagine just how large whales can be.
On Wednesday we finally had two classrooms with enough seats for all the kids, and camp started off smoothly. The kids made coral polyps out of marshmallows with Carla, and became a part of an ocean food web in Kate’s rotation to investigate how important every organism is to the food chain. Right after camp we trekked home and started making and bagging popcorn for our second and final Movie Night! The popcorn process took less time this time around, but still lasted about three hours and we ended up with 90 bags of popcorn. The weather wasn’t great on Wednesday afternoon so we were concerned about our turnout, but we ended up with about 30 kids and family members watching two episodes of Blue Planet II: Coral Reefs and Green Seas.
We brought our leftover movie popcorn to camp for a snack on day four, and did lots of coloring. Our two activities focused on adaptations and sargassum — the macroalgae that Al wrote about in a blog post last week that’s been covering the local beaches. In our adaptations rotation the kids got to draw themselves with the necessary adaptations to live in the deep ocean, and in our sargassum rotation they drew pictures of their beaches and local ecosystems before and after the presence of large amounts of sargassum.
Friday was rainy again, and we had a smaller camp turnout because of it. We rescheduled one of our exciting guest visitors (you’ll hear about them in next weeks’ blog) and created a massive coral reef board game in the auditorium for the kids to play on to accompany the mangrove craft going on in the classroom. The board game was a success, as was so much of this week!
The beginning of Youth Camp went by so quickly and we can’t believe we only have one more week here in San Pedro!
-Aidan Coffin Ness & Team STARRs