13631544_1062929037117456_7422598147543401713_nThe best summer camp activities are both educational and inspiring, uplifting the spirits of all who participate, and creating an atmosphere where campers discover that learning is not only fun, but the most interesting thing they could be doing!

There is something magical about Catalina Island that allows all who visit the opportunity to make contact with the primal elements of nature in one of the most pristing and beautiful natural settings in the world.

Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) has been running programs on Catalina for over 20 years, and has developed many of their own popular and exciting science camp and summer camp activities.

Summer Camp Activities on Catalina:

  • Swimming in the ocean.
  • Snorkeling.
  • Kayaking.
  • Surfing, boogie boarding, body surfing!

Summer Camp Activities That Build Character

Summer camp puts youth outside of their comfort zones and in direct contact with each other and the great outdoors. With the creativity of the campers, it doesn’t take much to transform anything in to the greatest adventure of your life! Here are a few things that are among our favorite summer camp activities:

Swimming in the Ocean

13654414_1064422630301430_2036238527660791800_nSounds innocent enough, right? Of course! Unless, that is, you have an imagination that runs wild! The ocean is indeed tremendous, and reminds even the most experienced sea-faring voyagers how small they are in comparison, from time to time.

Swimming in the ocean is a perfectly safe summer camp activity that MSA constantly does throughout the day, especially since their program is based off a fully equipped marine research vessel! This activity gives campers the chance to overcome any self-imposed limitations and irrational fears, while structuring the opportunity for them to enjoy one of California’s greatest of resources.


13707726_1062928870450806_8114898664202536338_nSomething amazing happens when a first time snorkeler puts their face in the water and opens their eyes, suddenly they see this entire new world before them. The marine world is one of majestic beauty and hidden wonders of every kind. The more you look, the harder it becomes to turn away. That which before seemed mysterious and potentially frightful has now become real and open to further investigation.

The snorkel tours MSA leads as one of their summer camp activities often allows participants to experience more than four marine ecosystems in one session. Campers also get the rare opportunity to snorkel in the oldest protective cove on the island, seeing a plethora of marine life such as bat rays, leopard sharks, Garibaldi, kelp bass and plenty others!


13891944_1080978441979182_2184367501234704489_nExploring Catalina Island on a small one or two man craft is a real joy for everyone, the freedom allows for you to explore and experience the wonder of the island on your own. The MSA instructors often have the campers bring their snorkel gear and a chaser boat with packed lunch as they head off an a kayak adventure to a hidden cove or remote island beach. After beaching the kayaks, the campers have time to snorkel, swim and enjoy some leisure time on the beach.

Kayaking pushes youth to their limits, as it is a lot more work than it looks! It is easy for our arms to get tired easily, and to want to stop paddling – but the camp counselors continually encourage the campers to persevere and keep on going!

Surfing, Boogie Boarding and Body Surfing.

13669627_1062928770450816_2591901303547224579_nVisiting the backside of the island is one of the highlights of the MSA summer camp experience, which has a beautiful oasis like campground called Little Harbor. Beside Little Harbor is Shark Harbor, which is a popular surfing beach for locals and adventure seekers alike. The MSA staff teach the summer campers how to surf first on the beach and then in the water!

Some prefer to boogie board or body surf, which never gets old! I don’t care how you do it, riding a wave is one of the best feelings in the world.

It is always interesting to see how many teens and kids are intimidated by surfing and see it as being outside their skill range. This is the perfect opportunity to show them that they are greater than their fears and limitations, and that each person sets their own boundaries in life!

Summer Camp Activities That Promote Environmental Awareness

Being surrounded by the beauty of immense beauty of nature, such as that experienced on Santa Catalina Island, fosters a deep personal love for the marine and island environment. If it is true that we protect what we love, then a week exploring the numerous adventures and precious resources available on Catalina is one of the most valuable educational experiences a child can have.

Immersing youth in the raw beauty of nature allows them to begin thinking like a scientist.

All of MSA’s summer camp activities have a brief fifteen-minute lecture phase to introduce the campers to any various animals, plants or other habitat factors they may encounter. When they see these creatures in their natural habitat during the activity, knowing some facts about it already drastically enriches the experience.

Keeping a field journal

credit-AnneFMaben8An integral part of the MSA program is keeping a field journal. This allows students to have their own personal research project to develop during their camp experience. They are led to utilize the scientific method as they gather and organize notes and data gathered during the various activities.

Keeping a field journal augments all of the MSA summer camp activities; as the more each student delves into the world of natural science, the more they are able to notice patterns and relationships that inspire further investigation.