Whether you’re a resident or visitor, Ocean Camp is a great way for your keiki to spend the day or the rest of the summer getting better acquainted with the marine ecosystems that surround us here on Maui! Open to children entering grades 1-5, each week centers around an ocean-related theme, and every day includes hands-on science lessons, fun games and activities, creative arts and crafts, and nature-based field trips. Last week’s theme was Now you see me, now you don’t! Campers learned about some of the planet’s best disguise artists and tested their skills at uncovering local animals that specialize in camouflaging amongst our islands’ natural habitats. 

In the classroom, campers participated in fun activities that explored the different types of camouflage used by marine animals, such as transparency, reflection, countershading, mimicry, self-decoration, and more. PWF Education Manager Robyn Ehrlich says her favorite camouflage method is color because it gives perspective on how different life can be underwater.

“We think of red as a bright color but it is the first color to disappear once you descend deeper into the ocean,” says Robyn, “When we take the kids snorkeling, we demonstrate this by asking them to find fish of all the different colors of the rainbow, but they always have trouble finding red!”

Among other marine-based lessons, campers were also introduced to the fish families commonly found on reefs in Hawaii and enjoyed constructing branching and mounding coral models and simulating various ocean conditions, like rough waves or being stepped on. The kids agree that building an edible coral polyp was the most delicious activity though!

Ocean campers were given the opportunity to put their education to the test on daily field trips around the island. At the tide pools, keiki got first-hand experience with the creatures that brave the elements to make these areas their home, using an identification guide created by Ehrlich specifically for the tide pools of Maui.

They enjoyed snorkeling at Mala Wharf, a unique location due to the sunken pier that has become a habitat for a variety of marine life. Robyn said she could tell that campers were absorbing their lessons and impressed her when a sea turtle swam by and they made sure to give it plenty of space and observe from a safe distance, meanwhile making sure to chastise adult divers who were touching the turtles!

They also got to ride the ocean waves with the help of the wonderful instructors at Maui Sports Unlimited, and get up-close views of a variety of marine life while on land at Maui Ocean Center. 

No matter what day of Ocean Camp it is, keiki get to experience the marine environment in a fun, unique, and educational way that will inspire them to become environmental stewards. 

My son is having a FABULOUS time and has proclaimed that this is his favorite camp ever! Thank you for all you do for our community and our keiki. -Sara T

My daughter had such an incredible time and I am so grateful to have been able to give her this experience. I really think camp doesn’t get any cooler than this!
-Susana D

Ocean Camp summer sessions run M-F, 8am-4pm, until August 2. Register today at pacificwhale.org/education/ocean-camp

Posted by:Alicia Wood

Alicia joined Pacific Whale Foundation in 2018 as communications coordinator, after graduating from the University of Hawaii Maui College with a degree in Sustainable Science Management.

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