How To Build Character In Your Students Through Hands On Field Science Activities

The scientific method empowers students to apply their cognitive faculties to its optimal potential, deepening their experience of the natural world and enriching their interactions with all life.

Introducing Students To The Scientific Method

IMG_3912_zps185c18d0When students realize for them selves how much fun it is to explore the natural world as a field scientist, it opens up their eyes to the possibilities that await them. This initial awakening to the wonders of science is enough to inspire students to consider pursuing higher education and careers in the various scientific fields.

This is the job of every good science teacher, to awaken a love for science in the hearts of their students by making it a real living breathing aspect of their lives, and displaying how to apply the scientific method to explore their own thoughts and ideas.

Applying Scientific Principles To Daily Life

IMG_2405_zps364e8fbeGood science is all about asking the right questions, and learning how to perceive the topic of your research with greater awareness. The more students learn to observe their environment, the more they can notice the patterns and interrelationships as they unfold, and use this data to apply towards developing their own theories.

In this way, the mental faculties of each student are allowed to fully blossom. Their ability to problem and engage in critical thinking is approved, as well. Field science teaches students to use their mind as a tool for understanding their surroundings, allowing them to make better life choices and healthier decisions.

Seeing The World Through The Eyes Of A Scientist

An incredible thing happens when a student becomes passionate about science, they are able to immerse themselves in experiencing life with heightened sensitivity and awareness. They begin to notice the smaller details and intricate aspects of so many things they overlooked before. Their ability to think objectively and analyze the relevancy of various facts is improved, as they learn how to harness the discriminative powers of their own minds.

Taking It A Step Further

There are many ways a science teacher can go about imparting a personal love and passion for science in their students. One of the best ways is teaching how to keep and use a field journal. The field journal personalizes the process of scientific research, and gives each student a departure point to develop his or her ideas into a hypothesis or theory.

By teaching your students how to keep a field journal, you are giving them all they need to take their understanding of science and apply it to their lives, where they can discover for themselves just how exciting the world of natural sciences truly is.

Read more

The Most Elite Marine Biology Sea Camp on Catalina Island

Both locals and visitors, alike, have described Camp Emerald Bay on Catalina Island as the most elite and desirable cove on the island. There is definitely something special about this spot, with its tropical like emerald bluish-green water, to the world class facilities and breathtaking natural scenery.

Why Emerald Bay Is The Most Desirable Cover on Catalina

189314_155784684498567_4411404_nEmerald Bay has been rated as one of the top three dive locations in California and among the most desirable spots for both scuba diving and snorkeling in the whole world. This is due to the awesome bio diversity that surrounds the cove, with lush kelp forests, rocky reefs and sandy bottom ecosystems.

This is a real treasure for first time snorkelers, whom get the chance to see many different species of marine life, from Garabaldi, kelp bass, Sheepshead, opaleye, and other fish, to leopard sharks, shovelnose guitarfish, bat rays, angel sharks, horn sharks, and plenty others.

Sometimes students get the opportunity to play with sea lions, which are just as curious about the children as they are of them. Such interactions with nature and wildlife impart a deep love and appreciation for the natural world of marine sciences.

An Outdoor Education Program Unlike Any Other

credit-AnneFMaben12Mountain and Sea Adventure’s (MSA) program at Emerald Bay is unlike any other program on Catalina, or the whole world, as it combines actual hands-on field biology research with character building. Students have the chance to participate in activities, such as snorkeling and kayaking, that push them to the boundaries of their comfort zones. The MSA staff encourages and supports each student, and utilizes such challenges as an opportunity to impart character and display altruistic values, such as courage, perseverance, and environmental stewardship.

MSA’s program displays how field science can becomes a chance for students to explore the natural world more deep, and immerse themselves more fully in experiencing their environment.

Building Character in Youth

In the process of going beyond their previous limitations and what they considered possible for themselves, the self-esteem and self-image of each student is greatly improved. Courage is taken up again and again to break all fears, inhibitions and aversions, allowing students to prove to themselves that they truly can achieve what ever they set their minds on, and are capable of achieving greatness in any area of life they chose.

By the end of their camp experience, each student has gained a valuable perspective on life – that they can become what ever they chose, and can attain whatever goals they set their sights on.

Read more

The Best Overnight Summer Camps in Southern California

There is no other overnight summer camp in southern California like MSA’s program on Santa Catalina Island. Campers enjoy a full week of such incredibly fun activities as boating, paddleboarding, exploring sea caves and hidden coves, swimming at remote beaches, kayaking, snorkeling and building new friendships that often last a life time.

Summer Away Camps

206034_155784591165243_7352899_nThe chance to spend a week away at camp is the highlight of the summer for many kids and teens, which get to enjoy making new friends, exploring nature, and playing in the great outdoors together.

Summer away camps in southern California are the perfect opportunity to impart social skills, build high self-esteem and give your child real life experiences that build character and improve their self-image.

Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) has been running the best overnight summer camps in southern California for nearly 20 years, with their premiere location at Catalina Island offering California residents the chance to enjoy and immerse themselves in one of their most precious and valuable natural resources.

MSA’s Catalina summer camps are both very exciting and highly educational, imparting a love for the ocean through hands-on field biology activates, water games and lots of marine science activities.

Elite Summer Camps in California

993605_490675834342782_407757881_nWhen your student comes to Catalina summer camp, they get to enjoy visiting the most beautiful and desirable locations on the island by kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking the various trails and coves.

This program is a truly an elite summer camp experience, offering a wide range of activities and experiences. The fact that the program is help aboard a marine research vessel allows your child the chance to comfortably travel around and visit the very best that Catalina Island has to offer.

From the quaint island villages of Avalon and Two Harbors, to the remote paradise coves on the backside such as Little Harbor, your child can see and experience more of Catalina Island with MSA than any other program.

During our two-week teen camp on Catalina, your teenager can hike some of the most beautiful parts of the Trans Catalina Trails, even trekking up to the highest mountain on the island, and spending a night at the incredibly breathtaking scenic viewpoint of Black Jack campground.

Read more

The Effort To Re Introduce Sea Otters To Southern California

Sea otters are one of California’s most loved and adorable marine mammals, their presence is greatly missed and great efforts are being put into action to help preserve and restore the once thriving sea otter populations along our coast.

A Brief History of Sea Otters in southern California

Sea_otter_pair2Sea otters were once wide spread along the entire coastal north Pacific, from Japan to Alaska, and all the way down the west coast of North America to Baja Mexico. In California alone, sea otter populations were believed to be around six-teen thousand individuals. Then in the 17th and 18th centuries Russian and Spanish fur traders began exploiting sea otters for their pelts, and hunted them to the brink of extinction.

By the beginning of the 20th century it was assumed that sea otters were extinct, until in 1938 a small group of sea otters were found still thriving in the hidden crevices of Big Sur, California. It was estimated that there were 50 individuals surviving in this area.

California began one of its greatest conservation efforts to protect and allow this small population to repopulate the California coast. Today the population of sea otters descended from this small group found eighty years ago has risen to just under 3,000 individuals!

Why are sea otters so important to California’s marine ecosystems?

ssSea otters are a keystone species, meaning they have a larger role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems than other species. Sea otters love to eat benthic (mud dwelling) marine invertebrates, their diet ranges from abalone to sea urchins, crabs, marine snails, worms, sea stars, sand dollars, octopus, squid and others. However, most individuals specialize in one area of the over all sea otter diet.

The most abundant habitat for many marine animals are the kelp forests that line California’s coast, and provide an abundant resource for much of California’s local marine life. In recent years we have seen a sharp decline in kelp forests, this has been occurring for several reasons, such as rising ocean temperatures, but it is also occurring because of the absence of the sea otters. Sea otters keep the sea urchin numbers in balance; otherwise sea urchins eat the base of the kelp plant and eradicate entire forests.

enhanced-22150-1406642497-1Sea otters can eat a lot of sea urchins! One interesting fact about this lovable, not to mention smallest (and therefore cutest!) member of the marine mammal family, is that they have extremely fast metabolisms because this allows them to release the amount of heat they need to stay warm in the frigid North Pacific waters. An average sea otter will eat 25% of its own body weight per day!

Sea otters are integral members of California’s marine ecosystems, without them entire habitats are lost and contribute to the decrease in bio diversity.

What are the primary threats to sea otters?

Although sea otters have made a huge comeback in the last hundred years, their road to complete recovery is far from over. There are still many threats to sea otters; among the greatest are threats from chemical pollution, food limitation, loss of habitat, and nutritional deficiencies.

California has made some huge mistakes regarding their treatment of sea otters. Although sea otters were listed as endangered in 1977, just nine years later sea otters were officially banned from the southern California coast at the behest of the fishing industries, which saw sea otters as a threat to their commercial exploits. This allowed sea otters in southern California to be unprotected from harassment and harm.

During this time, any sea otters found were trapped and relocated to San Nicholas island, where it was claimed they would ‘be free from the threats of oil spills’; however, this effort was a disaster as many individual sea otters were either harmed or died trying to find their way home.

Beginning in 2001 the Fish and Wildlife Service declared that they would no longer trap and relocate sea otters, allowing them to return to southern California and repopulate.

Regardless of the recent changes in attitude and concern for reintroducing sea otters, their numbers have not grown much since 2006, in fact in 2010 the US Geological Survey announced that numbers had declined for the second year in a row. However, the Californian people showed greater enthusiasm and expressed greater interest in helping this incredibly valuable species recover.

In 2011, Californian Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation re-establishing the main source of funding for sea otter conservation programs, such as the California Sea Otter Fund, and has raised more than $1.5 million dollars in the last five years (well over their goal!).

How Can Sea Otters Be Re Introduced?

sea-otter-urchin-buffetAlthough other populations of sea otters have showed encouraging signs of recovery, such as 17% to 20% per year in some areas, the California sea otters have progressed at a much slower rate, only 5% to 6% per year. This is due to a higher mortality rate from white shark attack, bacterial and viral infections, toxicity, poisoning, and various infectious diseases.

The various inorganic pollutants traveling with the runoff from human habitations is considered to be the primary threat causing the decreased life span and high mortality rate for Californian sea otters.

In order for southern California’s sea otters to return and live healthy long lives, the quality of the water will need to continue to improve. As more and more Californians see the personal and collective benefits to implementing environmentally friendly alternatives, there seems to be hope yet for creating the right conditions for the sea otters to live.

What You Can Do To Help!

Californians have shown great interest in helping the sea otter populations to recover, and in recent years we have begun to realize the vital role they play on maintaining the overall health of marine ecosystems, particularly the kelp forest.

It is now evident that saving the sea otters not only means preserving this adorable and unique individual species, but it also means saving the foundation of our marine habitats.

There is only so much we can expect our Federal, State and local governments and agencies to achieve for us. The real contribution must come from the way we each chose to live our lives. What we pour down the drains will end up being what the sea otters swim in. By using less chemical detergents and solvents, and choosing to buy environmentally safe house hold products, we can each do our part to make the planet a better place for each and every one of us!













Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more