Marine Quest summer camps are making waves in environmental education

Photo Courtesy: Marine Quest

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — If you’re looking for a fun and engaging summer camp that’s making waves in environmental education, you might want to consider UNCW’s Marine Quest.

The program has been in existence for over 42 years. Summer programs begin in June and continue through August.

Morgan O’Connell is the research and volunteer coordinator for Marine Quest. She says their camps incorporate UNCW marine science faculty and staff.

“We work closely with them to incorporate their research into our curriculum and then provide opportunities for campers to engage in activities that use many of the tools of a marine scientist,” O’Connell said. “It actually allows them to have an authentic marine science experience at a young age.”

Participation in programs benefits children and adolescents in many ways.

“Students from the age of four can come to Marine Quest, spend time in our large outdoor lab in the ocean, swamp or beach,” she said. “They learn about the tools of a marine scientist, use all their senses, smell swamp mud, explore squid, and discover things like bioluminescent plankton.”

Summer programs also serve as a pipeline that introduces 4- to 17-year-olds to college.

“We really want them to come back year after year, so we’ve worked hard to build a program that builds and grows on itself,” she said. “We recognize that students develop skills at different ages, so we also ensure that our program is age-appropriate, meeting students where they are with the skills they have learned.”

In addition to junior, intermediate and senior programs, there are also diving programs. For the first time, ocean engineering programs will be offered this summer.

One-, two-, and three-week programs begin June 12 and run until August 17. Full day and half day programs are also available.

“We are constantly updating our program to reflect current findings and marine scientists, who strive to make all our activities engaging for students, and then to find the best instructors we can find, so they can share their passion for the marine environment with our students,” O’Connell said. “We also take the time to engage all of our students, so they can learn to be meaningful citizens and help care for our environment as they grow, because the future is theirs, and we hope to inspire this next generation of marine scientists.”