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How MSA Inspires Youth To Dream Big and Reach For The Stars

credit-AnneFMaben67Our Central Theme: Break Your Fears!

When students come out to Mountain and Sea Adventure’s life-changing outdoor education program on Catalina Island, or Big Bear, they have the opportunity to explore their talents and abilities in a safe environment, allowing them to overcome their fears and inhibitions with the support of their instructors, teachers and peers.

What holds people back from reaching their fullest potential and living the life of their dreams? Fear manifests in many ways, from fear of failure to fear of success. Many times people fear that they are not worthy of success, and set their own limits for what they are capable of achieving.

MSA’s program is unlike any other; giving students the opportunity to do many activities they may have never had the chance to experience for themselves. Activities such as snorkeling and kayaking gently push students to the boundaries of their comfort zone, where the MSA staff then supports and encourages them towards achieving what they previously thought they were incapable of. Even something as simple as putting on a wetsuit, strapping a snorkel on to your face, and taking your first breath with your head submerged in the water is enough to shatter paradigms and inspire youth to continue surpassing their own limitations.

Perseverance: Never Give Up!

credit-AnneFMaben58So often in life we start out on a new endeavor with great enthusiasm and hope, but how often do we finish what we start with the same amount of zeal? Perseverance is incredibly vital for achieving our ambitions and fulfilling our greatest potential.

The MSA staff teaches students to harness their enthusiasm and excitement by choosing a pace they know they can maintain, to avoid burning themselves out, and the importance of setting small achievable benchmarks along the way towards manifesting their overall goals.

Activities such as hiking and kayaking provide the ideal setting to drive these points home, and impart a personal experience that makes it real and remains with the student forever.

A Transformational Camp Experience

People learn and grow the fastest when they are placed outside their comfort zones, and have the guidance necessary to overcome all resistance. MSA’s science camp program provides just the venue for such personal growth to occur, with the MSA staff there to encourage and inspire each student to reach for the stars and achieve greatness.

Campers encourage each other to overcome their inhibitions to the unfamiliar world of snorkeling!

Campers encourage each other to overcome their inhibitions to the unfamiliar world of snorkeling!

In the process of the camp program, students overcome their own fears that were previously holding them back, and they prove to themselves again and again that they can indeed do what they previously thought they could not.

With the positive reinforcement of their teachers, camp instructors and classmates, students are repeatedly given structured opportunities to achieve greatness, and to surpass their own limitations and self-expectations.

Building Self Esteem and a Healthy Self Image

The result of the MSA camp experience is an improved self-image for all whom attend, from students to teachers and chaperones. For some, just coming out to camp and roughing it with their students for a week reminds them that they are indeed cut out for greatness! If this can improve your own self-confidence, just imagine what it does for your students!

Students thrive from their camp experience. After proving to themselves that they are greater than their fears, can achieve greatness on a daily basis, and accomplish can accomplish anything they set their mind to, the self image and self esteem of each camper is improved drastically.

With a greater sense of self, the lives of each student are enriched in every way. Students perform better in their studies, choose healthy friendships, and inspire others to achieve personal greatness, as well.

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Keeping A Field Journal: How To Transform Your Students Into Scientists

In the process of developing an educated appreciation for science, students use their field journals to take the scientific method into their own hands and make it a very real part of their individual lives. In this way, the field journal serves as the vehicle for developing a personal appreciation and love for science.

credit-AnneFMaben59Developing A Personal Appreciation And Love For Science

The field journal becomes the instrument that students of science use to capture their insights and other thoughts while out in the field. They are then able to ponder and interpret what they are observing into their own theories and ideas about the natural world, developing one more testable hypothesis to bring their concepts into reality.

The whole scientific method becomes an adventurous process of heightening sensitivity and deepening the student’s awareness and experience of the environment they are researching. Soon the natural world reveals its splendor and wonder, captivating the student and peaking their interest. The field journal then becomes the intermediary between raw experience and scientific analysis.

The student quickly discovers that the most important research equipment they have is their own mind and the field journal. All other technology is only complimentary.

The Field Journal

credit-AnneFMaben8As soon as students arrive at one of Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) programs on Catalina Island or Big Bear they are immediately introduced to how to set up, organize and keep a field journal. It is always a joy for the MSA staff to see the transformation that happens between the first class, when students reluctantly participate in what they perceive to be ‘just another school class’, to when they turn in their journals at the end of their camp experience, sometimes frantically requesting the instructors to be sure to return their journals promptly!

The field journal is a valuable tool for seeing your thoughts develop and evolve over time. This further engages the student and inspires them to immerse themselves further in their research, with a greater awareness and appreciation for the utility of the field journal.

Personalizing Our Experiences

One of the most valuable aspects of the field journal is in the way it takes an impersonal class lecture and gives it a vehicle for personal application. Now the students can listen to each new lecture with deeper interest, knowing that they will be able to apply what has been taught to their own observations and experiences in the field. Learning is no longer second-hand and based on what has already been written in texts books, but becomes a living breathing component of their lives that they can translate into their own personal writings. From a hypothesis to a theory to a scientific law, the writing that takes place in the student’s field journal gradually evolves.

credit-AnneFMaben71A Catapult For The Imagination

Many students often mistakenly think that science is cold and analytical, when the truth is that good science provides a foundation for the creative faculties, such as imagination, to unravel and reveal the untold mysteries of the natural world.

In this way, science is much like any other art form. Just like with music or fine art, the instruments, brushes and other tools are only the catalyst for the creative expression of the mind. In the same way, a field biologist utilizes many forms of technology, yet considers the imagination to be the first and most important laboratory.

Bringing Imagination To Reality

Scientists are like big kids; both spend most of their time engaged in elaborate imagination. Science can be seen as the ultimate venue for the imagination, where it is empowered to express its fullest potential. However, one of the most exciting things of all is that science is not limited to the realm of mere fantasy; but is focused on bringing thought into the material plane of measurable application.

In this way, a field biologist is constantly updating their mental vision by testing various hypothesis and analyzing the results as they unfold in the field. Eventually the scientist first discovers the theory in their imagination before explaining it, and finally proving it in a controlled environment.

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Learning The Scientific Method With Field Biology Activities

IMG_2396_zps9508f396Once the tools have been imparted, the scientific method provides a platform for immersing your self in the natural world more deeply, and allowing the creativity of the imagination to reach its apex. A science teacher, in this sense, is the one who reveals the grand wonder of the natural world to the student, and imparts a process for experiencing nature more fully.

How To Teach The Scientific Method To Children

Children have a natural inquisitiveness, and a great potential to allow their imaginations to guide them into deeper and deeper levels of inquiry and observation of the natural world around them.

This sense of wonder and inquiry that characterizes youth is a great resource for any field biologist, inspiring them to investigate their surroundings with a probing curiosity. There is literally no limit on what a scientist can arouse interest in and make the subject of further research; one is only limited by their own sense of wonder. In this sense, children have a unique capacity to take the world of natural science to its highest point.

A Platform For Imaginative Exploration

Good field science not only involves collecting, organizing and analyzing date; but requires a healthy and vivid imagination in order to notice the interrelationships between various patterns, and their hidden implications. Therefore, natural sciences can be seen as the ideal platform to allow the imagination to reach its fullest potential as the catalyst for scientific discovery.

The Field Journal

credit-AnneFMaben8Once the basic foundational scientific methods and practices have been learned, youth can then apply their curiosity and intrigue for exploring nature in a way that is most fulfilling. The main tool field biologists use to achieve this is the field journal, which allows them to apply the scientific method towards organizing the revealing the patterns of their observations.

One of the first things students learn when they embark on their outdoor education experience at science camp with Mountain and Sea Adventures is how to keep a field journal. This is kept with them for the duration of their stay, and quickly becomes one of their most valued possessions.

Students develop a personal attachment to their field journals once they begin recording their findings, theories and thoughts. The MSA staff encourages students to develop thoughtful conclusions and a hypothesis for each program activity they participate in.

This single week at camp provides a lifetime worth of inspiration and appreciation for field science, and demonstrates how to make the field journal a valuable addition to their lives as they learn to observe, ponder and describe their natural environment more and more acutely.

Immersing Your Students In Natural Sciences

credit-AnneFMaben15Now that your students have discovered the value of keeping a field journal, you can structure opportunities for them to become increasingly more immersed in the fascinating world of natural sciences. Gradually students discover just how fun and exciting learning really is, when they are given the reins to their own process of scientific exploration and discovery.

Now you are entering a very exciting level of science education, where the most mundane and over-looked specimen can become the subject of deep inquiry and investigation. The caterpillar crawling along the window seal, or the condensation gathering on the outside of a student’s water bottle. Every thing that we commonly take for granted and fail to notice can become the topic of great interest, as students observe, notice patterns and interrelationships between habitat factors, and use their critical factor to develop their own theories about what they have seen.

Field Science Activities On Your Own Campus

Once you begin opening your eyes to the resources and opportunities everywhere around you, you and your students will discover there is no end to what you can become curious about and make the topic of further scientific investigation.

One of the most important understanding to impart to students is that not only is science not a cold analytical process relegated to sterile laboratory environments, but it is an approach to experiencing life more intimately, observing your surroundings more keenly and applying your imagination to it’s fullest potential.

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How To Bring The Excitement Of Outdoor Education Into Your Classroom

The world of natural science is full of adventure and excitement, where youth can take their own ideas and theories about the world and apply them for real tangible results that they can actually observe for themselves.

Learning Science Is Exciting And Adventurous

What is it about coming out to science camp on Catalina Island with Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) that excites students, and sparks a lifelong love for the marine environment and world of natural sciences?

281903_155788194498216_6599672_nOutdoor education merely teaches youth how to open their eyes to perceiving the grand beauty of the natural world all around them. Field science becomes the vehicle for students to immerse themselves deeper and deeper in their awe-inspiring surroundings. Soon any aversion to academic learning is replaced by an ever-increasing urge to enjoy the fun activities of their outdoor educational experience.

In this sense, outdoor education is one of the most important academic experiences for youth, for it reveals to them that learning is not only fun, but also one of the most exciting endeavors they can embark upon.

Learning To See The Wonder Of Nature

Children love to play and make believe, exploring and discovering their environment in a way they never tire of. Natural sciences takes this exploratory sense of adventure in youth to its zenith, by showing them that there are no limits to what they can discover and learn through their own field research.

credit-AnneFMaben82The scientific method is the process of learning to ask the right questions, to have that same sense of wonder that a child has, so that you can set all your pre-existing ideas aside and arrive at your own understandings based on your own experience.

In fact, science is the last frontier of creative thought – where the inventive imagination of the left-brain meets the intellectual analysis of the right brain.

Rather than teaching your students that science is about definite laws, encourage them to see science as a field of limitless possibilities where they can bring their ideas and theories into the material world.

Immersing Your Students In The World Of Natural Sciences

The beautiful thing about studying natural sciences is that you do not have to wait until you are in a nature preserve or other exotic location to begin immersing your students. In fact, the natural world is all around us, all the time! Even when sitting in the classroom, the natural world is still unfolding its wonder.

Of course, you don’t have to stay in your classroom; even a short visit to your sports field or one of the plazas on your campus can be an exciting opportunity to immerse them in field biology.

Preparing Your Students For Their Outdoor Education Camp Experience

10302054_682080205202343_289783729261922074_nJust a few visits to the natural surroundings in their own school campus can prime your students for more, empowering them to begin seeing the world around them through the eyes of a field scientist.

By the time your students make it out to camp Emerald Bay on Catalina Island, or Camp Oakes in Big Bear, they have a head start on field biology that allows them to take full advantage of their incredible resources at camp, and to enjoy MSA’s life changing program to its fullest potential.

Bringing It Home: Implementing Your Camp Experience Into Your Classroom

By the time your students complete their camp experience and return to school, they have had their perspectives and ideas about science transformed. Science has now become a living breathing part of their life, a tool that they can use to increase their love and appreciation of the natural world.

Natural science does not begin when the school bell rings, and it does not end when they leave campus at the day’s end. When given the right perspective by their teachers, youth can come to see how their entire life is a laboratory for scientific research and experimentation.

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Where Scientists Are Born: Marine Biology Youth Camp on Catalina Island

Marine Biology Youth Camp

Catalina Island is a magical destination and one of the most rich and abundant natural resources in California. When visiting Catalina Island, which is less than twenty miles off short Los Angeles, students have the opportunity to participate in a wide range to educational and adventurous marine biology activities, such as snorkeling at one of the most desirable locations in the world, kayaking, dissecting squid, trawling for plankton and then observing them beneath microscopes, hiking the various trails that surround the camp, and lots more!

While snorkeling students get to see Garibaldi, opaleye, kelp bass, leopard sharks, shovelnose guitarfish, as well as the occasional seal, sea lion and/or dolphin visit! On land students may seem several endemic species of birds and mammals such as the quail, ground squirrel and fox.

The Natural Beauty of Catalina Island

Catalina Island is seventy-four miles of ecological preserve, with some of the most breathtaking landscape in California. Marine biology youth camp at Catalina Island is a rare and extremely valuable opportunity to immerse your students in the unspoiled beauty of nature.

With forty-eight miles of coastline, Catalina Island has a seemingly endless variety of marine and terrestrial habitats. There is an abundant of plant and wildlife, which makes this an ideal location to impart a passion for learning natural science and use the scientific method to explore nature, and arrive at your own conclusions and theories.

Learning To Observe The World Like A Field Biologist

For those interested in marine biology, camp at Catalina Island is the perfect chance to develop that interest and ‘try out’ life as an actual marine biologist field scientist. Students learn to keep a field journal and are taught to observe the world around them through the eyes of a scientist.

This full immersion into natural sciences sparks a deep love and appreciation for marine biology, and many do end up going back home and pursuing an higher education academic goal.

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The Life Changing Impact of Environmental Science Youth Camp On Catalina Island

Just eighteen miles off the coast of Los Angeles lay Santa Catalina Island, one of the largest island nature reserves in the world. With over 74 square miles of breathtaking landscape, Catalina Island is one of the most valuable natural resources in California.

Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) has been running youth programs on the island since 1998, and continues to bring thousands of students from around the Southwest to Catalina Island every year. Spending time in this beautiful ecological preserve gives youth a personal first-hand experience of the natural world, and from there – a personal appreciation and love develops. If it is true that we only preserve what we love, then MSA’s program is instrumental in providing the very experiences which inspire that very love for the natural environment in their hearts.

The Splendid Natural Beauty and Wonder of Emerald Bay

MSA runs their program at one of the most desirable and ecological diverse coves on Catalina Island, Emerald Bay. The facilities are just as impressive as the scenic beauty both inside and outside the beautiful emerald colored water. Resources such as the Pennington Marine Science Center, which has a salt water aquarium with displays of all the major ecosystems surrounding Emerald Bay, as well as multiple touch tanks, microscope labs and classrooms.

Surrounding Emerald Bay is the natural beauty of the ecological reserve, maintained by the Catalina Island Conservancy, with endless scenic views of untouched island coastline, rolling chaparral hills, and an abundance of wildlife such as Catalina Island Fox (endemic only to this island), mule deer, bison, and a wide variety of marine and terrestrial birds, including bald and golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, ravens, and rare migratory birds that travel thousands of miles such as arctic terns.

Why Children Love Environmental Science

One of the reasons Catalina Island is such a popular and desirable location to take groups and classes for the camp experience is because it is just remote enough to feel like they have left the country (kids often times think this!), but yet they are still in a safe, protected and well-connected, yet rustic location.

Camp is a safe place where students can let their guard down and just ‘be kids’. They are free to play and discover how fun and exciting the world of natural science really is! Camp program is always an adventure, and the line between ‘academic’ and ‘recreational’ time becomes less and less clear. That is because learning is fun, and all it takes is placing children in the right conditions for that realization to take place for them.

Outdoor Education Imparts A Love For The Natural Environment

When ‘play time’ becomes ‘learning time’, and vice versa, students are ready to apply themselves and participate in the outdoor educational program activities with greater interest and enjoyment, and therefore gain much more from it. With this total interest, students are immersed into their environment, and with the tools given to them during the lecture phase by their instructor – they are able to observe and interact with their surroundings like true field biologists.

Such full immersion into the awe-inspiring beauty of an ecological preserve like Catalina Island imparts the type of appreciation and love for the environment that transforms the student’s perspective for life.

Outdoor education is unique in its capacity to ignite a love for the environment, not only do students immerse themselves in the great outdoors through the activities, but they are taught valuable information regarding the various animals they may encounter, as well as a method for observing, recording data and studying them.

Students are both fully immersed and fully attentive, learning to observe their environment like field scientists. They then take their observations back to their outdoor classroom and develop testable hypothesis. In this way, the scientific method becomes a tool for taking their personal immersion into the natural world deeper and deeper.

Protecting What We Love

With such a rich personal experience of the natural world, students are often moved towards increasing their efforts to be more environmentally conscious and friendly. Those experiences at camp become deeply cherished memories, resulting in a deep love for these preserved places in nature. The vital importance of conserving them becomes increasingly more apparent.

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How To Build Intrigue For Environmental Science In The Heart Of Your Students!

Children love to play, but what if they could be taught to play in a way that enriches their encounters with the natural world and empowers them to bring their imaginative creations and thoughts to life!

Science is the bridge between fantasy and reality. The imagination is the first and most important laboratory for any scientist, no matter what their field of expertise. It is in the imagination of the scientist that the most important data, the results to experiments, and other various factors are put to the test.

The truth is, science is where the wonder that comes so naturally to children is kept alive, and is the platform that allows that wonder to be sustained and truly blossom. Science in and of itself is exciting enough as it is, a science teacher does not need to do so much to make science more exciting, they only need to reveal to their students that when they wake up to seeing the magnificence of the natural world around them, there is truly nothing more exciting than science!

The scientific method is a model for absorbing your self completely in the natural world, developing a more sensitive and acute perception of nature, and intensifying your interactions with that through heightened awareness, sustained observation, and controlled experimentation.

Science Is The Ultimate Platform For Imaginative Exploration

One of the first lessons that inspire students to think outside the box regarding the world of science is the understanding that science is fueled by, and facilitated by a strong and active imagination. Especially in the modern context of particle physics, quantum mechanics, string theories, etc., a vivid imagination is more important that ever.

Many of the greatest and most profound discoveries in the field of science were first born in the imaginations of the minds of the individual scientists, who then experimented and applied their abstract mental visions to the practical material world.

This process of experimenting and observing the results of your own visions is about as exciting as bringing the make believe world of fantasy into the living breathing dimension of reality! Imagine the thrill of scientifically proving that a vision you had in your imagination is accurate, tangible and real!

Learning How To Observe And Think For Your Self

A scientist is taught to ask questions, and to use deductive reasoning to separate fact from fiction. Each individual observer is urged to stand on their own two feet and use their own mental faculties to derive their own personal conclusions.

This is incredibly important for the intellectual development of each individual student. Rather than merely memorizing facts and regurgitating the same information that was spoon fed to them, students learn how to view things objectively, how to organize and process information, and to observe and scrutinize the testable factors through controlled experimentation.

The World Is Your Field Science Laboratory

Once the first epiphany regarding the intellectually empowering aspects of science has been realized, the student of natural sciences now begins to perceive and experience the world around them differently. Now they are able to fully utilize the potential of the human brain, and tune the instrument of their mind to perceive the patterns in nature to subtler and finer degrees.

When one learns to observe their natural surroundings from the perspective of a field biologist, the endless wonder and excitement of life is ever present. It is this very sense of wonder that is the natural domain of the scientist, who uses this wonder and curiosity to explore and derive their own logical explanations and physical demonstrations.

Developing and Proving Your Own Scientific Theories

The scientific method is nothing less than the process of bringing the dimension of abstract mental thought to concrete material reality. One completely immerses themselves in the observation of patterns and interrelationships between the various factors influencing the object of their research. Once enough data has been collected and analyzed, one can begin deriving his or her own conclusions by utilizing the greatest tool for any scientist, the imagination.

In the imagination of the scientist various possible theories are developed. The scientist will test a theory by formulating various hypothesis, a projected result or expectations, and updating it with the results of various experiments.

When a hypothesis has been adequately tested and proven, it then becomes a theory.

These terms are often times confused; yet they are each a separate phase of the scientific method, and their purpose should be well understood…

Fact: Observations regarding an aspect of the world around us. Such as: “It’s hot outside.”

Hypothesis: A possible explanation for an occurrence, pattern or phenomenon made as a departure point for further experimentation. Example: “It’s hot outside because the sun is out.”

Theory: A proposed conclusion with substantial proof derived from applying the scientific method, and validated through observation and experimentation. Example: “When the sun is out, it tends to make it hot outside.”

Law: A final statement based on continued experimental observations that explain some phenomenon of nature. A law involves a description about how something, but not necessarily why it happened. Example: Newton’s First Law of Motion.

The best way you can impart a passion for natural science in your students is to fuel your own passions and interests first and foremost. The more excited you get about science, the more you are able to convey the true spirit of science to your pupils.

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Building World Changers! MSA’s Life-Changing Outdoor Educational Programs

Break Your Fears!

The main motto at Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) is “break your fears”! We encourage youth to face their fears and inhibitions and take action steps towards overcoming them. When youth realize they can achieve what ever they set their focus on, it empowers them to have the courage to set dreams and goals, and work diligently towards achieving them.

Fear is natural, and is there to protect us, however some fears are rational, whereas others are not. Being afraid is okay, but being controlled and making your life decisions based on that fear is detrimental towards reaching our full potential in many ways.

Being courageous is the main character trait we focus on because it is the value we use to develop all the others. In the process of developing perseverance, honesty, and other altruistic traits, we must take up courage again and again.

Imparting Character and High Self Esteem

Going beyond what you previously thought was possible for your self is very empowering and uplifting, and reminds you that you truly can achieve what ever you set your goals on.

Camp gives students the structured opportunities to overcome fear and aversion, and the experiences that improve their self-image and esteem. They return to their home environments with a renewed sense of self worth and confidence.

Dream Big and Reach For The Stars!

Each of us is capable of achieving greatness. One of the most courageous acts of all is to truly believe in your self, reach for that greatness and refuse to settle for less. To let our natural talents blossom and give fruit, require a certain amount of self-love and acceptance.

MSA’s highly inspirational youth camp programs impart the experiences that build high self-esteem and develop a healthy amount of self-love. From here, the sky is the limit!

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5 Fun And Incredible Facts About Dolphins!

Dolphins are among natures most beautiful and intelligent animals. Humans have always seemed to have a kindred connection with dolphins, and they also seem to take a keen interest in us, as well.

Here are five fun and incredible facts about our playful cetacean friends!

#1) Culture and Social Structure

Dolphins are extremely smart animals that also display social structure and culture, something that was long believed to be unique only to human beings. Pods are matriarchal, with the eldest grandmother being the head of the pod.

Dolphin pods can be told apart from each other by learning to detect small nuances in their clicks and whistles, which is a part of their communication patterns. These nuances are similar to accents in human beings, and display that dolphins have a similar aspect to their own ‘language’.

#2) Dolphins Use Tools for Hunting!

Dolphins have been seen teaching their young how to use tools, such as sponges, which they cover their sensitive snouts with to protect them while foraging for food.

#3) A Dolphin Language!

Dolphins have developed many highly evolved forms of communication. They use what is known as a “signature whistle” that allows each individual to recognize each other.

#4) Dolphins are Compassionate and Altruistic Animals!

Dolphins have been known to help and rescue injured humans in their greatest hour of distress. They have also been known to help other injured and weak dolphins to the surface to breath. Their compassion is not limited only to other dolphins. There are many examples of times when dolphins have helped humans and even whales.

#5) Dolphins Love To Play And Goof Off!

Dolphins have always been known to be extremely fun-loving, playful and even curious animals. They often times play-fight with each other and also play games with seaweed. Dolphins even love to play with other animals such as dogs.

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