Florida Keys Spring Break
*Please note that the 2020 Spring Break Program will be an ALL-GIRLS’ trip!
The Florida Keys are a string of beautiful tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida, between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They’re known as a destination for fishing, boating, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The crystal clear waters and abundance of marine life made this destination on the top of Sea Turtle Camp’s travel list! We’re excited to offer this new trip for Spring Break 2020.
This exclusive adventure will immerse high school students into the biodiverse tropical paradise for 6 days and 5 nights during April. After flying into MIA, we will start off the trip with a behind the scenes tour of the sea turtle hospital in true Sea Turtle Camp fashion in Marathon. Here we will learn about all the resident sea turtles, how they are being rehabilitated, and all the research they are conducting around the Keys. Participants will have the chance to feed a resident sea turtle at the end of the tour! After departing the hospital, we drive a short distance down the road to one of the Keys’ best aquariums. Here we will have a behind-the-scenes and private tour from a local marine biologist followed by a private shark and sting ray feeding. The next day is kicked off by an exciting half day at the Coral Restoration Foundation in Tavernier where we will learn about coral restoration and coral bleaching. Kayaking through the mangroves to follow! After a good night’s rest, campers will begin the day at the Reef Environmental Education Foundation in Key Largo, learning about invasive lionfish and even participating in a lionfish dissection. The remainder of the trip is spent in Key Largo at a wonderful education center, MarineLab. Here we will spend 3 days and 2 nights getting tons of hands-on experience in the marine science field and even being apart of citizen science efforts. We have a number of labs, field trips, and discussions about the local environment planned.
This program is designed for teenage girls ages 14-17 that are passionate about marine science and looking for a tropical adventure. Join us on our next trip as we:
- Receive 15 hours of community service through citizen science
- Collect and submit data on coral bleaching
- Kayak through beautiful mangroves
- Build a mock coral restoration tree to grow corals
- Snorkel and collect data on the world’s 3rd largest barrier reef ecosystem
- Learn about invasive species and participate in a lionfish dissection
- Get a private tour of the aquarium and participate in shark and sting ray feedings
- Filter microplastics and determine amounts in local waterways
- See live sea turtles and learn about local conservation efforts – and feed one!
- Stay at a STEM education facility
Camp tuition includes: all lodging, all meals, Sea Turtle Camp rashguard, 24-hour same gender adult supervision (4:1 camper to staff ratio), shuttle to and from Miami International Airport (MIA), snorkel equipment, daily transportation, all activity and admission fees, community service certificate, and group photo. Arrival and departure times are still being determined!
Not included: Air travel to Miami, airport food or snacks (please note: the first meal we cover is dinner on the first day and the last meal we cover is breakfast on the last day), souvenirs, and baggage fees at airport.
2020 Spring Break Camp Dates:
The Florida Keys supports rich marine ecosystems ranging from the everglades, barrier reefs, the Gulf Stream, and the Atlantic Ocean. We will get a chance to experience and explore the upper and middle Keys on this tropical adventure. Campers get the extraordinary opportunity to work with live native animals as well as participate in some amazing daily activities designed to teach them through experience instead of out of a textbook. This spring break adventure offers something new to Sea Turtle Camp – Citizen Science! Citizen science, also known as community science, or volunteer monitoring is scientific research conducted and submitted by the public. Citizen science is sometimes described as public participation in scientific research and participatory monitoring, whose outcomes are often advancements in scientific research. This, along with marine debris removals, will count towards the 15 hours of community service earned.
Activities involved with this 6 day, 5 night adventure:
- Sea Turtle Hospital tour and feeding
- Snorkel in seagrass and mangrove ecosystems
- Learning how to identify and report bleached corals
- Aquarium behind the scenes tour
- Private feeding of sharks and rays
- State parks visits and beach time
- Coral Restoration Foundation trip to do a coral restoration workshop and prepare coral polyps and trees for underwater use
- Kayak through native mangroves
- Work at the Reef Environmental Education Foundation for an invasive species class and workshop
- Stay at Environmental Education Center- MarineLab
- Collecting and identifying diverse invertebrates of the Keys
- Marine debris cleanup and submitting numbers into an international database
- Collect, filter, and count microplastics from local waterways
Organizations our data collected will be dispersed to:
- Microplastics data collected will be submitted to SeaGrant’s Florida Microplastics Awareness Project.
- Coral bleaching identification will be submitted to Bleachwatch and the Coral Restoration Foundation.
- All marine debris data collected will be submitted to Mote Marine Lab and entered into MarineLab’s in house database for teacher use.
- Seagrass surveys and mangrove sediment cores will be submitted to MarineLab for in-house studying and use.
You will arrive in Miami, Florida to begin your highly anticipated week in the Florida Keys. Once all campers arrive, we will travel as a group to our beautiful accommodations in Tavernier, Florida. At orientation, all camper rules and the schedule for the week will be explained by your counselors, who are equally excited. Then it’s off to dinner and evening activities where we will spend time getting to know each other. Afterwards, we’ll head back to our beds because tomorrow we have a bright and early start, traveling south to Marathon, Florida to see some real live sea turtles!
After breakfast, we’ll head straight to work at the Sea Turtle Hospital in Marathon, where you have the opportunity to learn about all aspects of the Turtle Hospital’s goals to rehabilitate injured sea turtles and release them to their natural habitat, educated the public through outreach, conduct in research that aids sea turtles, and work toward environmental legislation making beaches and water safe and clean for sea turtles. You will then get to feed a live sea turtle! After the visit at the sea turtle hospital, we will visit Aquarium Encounters: Florida Keys where we will get an educational tour of the aquarium with a professional marine biologist! After lunch, we will get a hands-on interaction with nurse sharks and sting rays during two exclusive feeding encounters. The rest of the afternoon is spent relaxing on the beach! After cleaning up and filling up on dinner, we’ll unwind back with some group activities before we hit the hay.
After an early breakfast we will spend the morning with the Coral Restoration Foundation learning about their program to grow and outplant endangered species of coral to restore reef sites to a healthy state. The afternoon will be spent in the water, relaxing on the beach and kayaking through the beautiful mangroves of Key Largo. After dinner we will have some downtime and do some marine science activities!
The morning of Day 4 will be spent learning about lionfish with Reef Environmental Education Foundation. We will even get to dissect a lionfish and make our own lionfish jewelry! After a quick lunch, we will start the final leg of our journey to Marine Lab in Key Largo, where we will spend the next two nights. After a quick orientation and do a swim test, we dive right into some exciting marine science activities. We will gear up with our masks, fins, and snorkels and learn about the importance of having healthy seagrass and mangrove communities. We get up close and personal with some of the locals, which include spiny lobsters, stone crabs, and baitfish. Instructors will collect small invertebrates for further examination and discussion later on this evening. After a full day of marine adventure, we will refuel and have time to relax and reflect on the day before another early morning in the water.
Today we will spend a good deal of time earning some additional community service hours doing some citizen science! We will focus our attention on marine debris and coral restoration. The marine debris program encompasses a classroom discussion, boat trip, and a mangrove clean up with data analysis. All of the data you collect will be submitted for real scientific research with Mote Marine Lab! Later today we will learn all about microplastics and get to see the problem firsthand through water samples collected on-site. Data will be collected and sent to the Florida Microplastic Awareness Program. We will then jump on the boat and visit one of the Coral Restoration Foundation’s coral nurseries and to a restoration site. Before we call it a night, we will get a hands-on activity to demonstrate the threats that sea turtles face through every stage of life.
After a laid back breakfast it’s back to the bunks for the final packing and cleaning duties. After exchanging phone numbers and email addresses you say goodbye to all of your new found friends until you meet again next year or even this summer at another Sea Turtle Camp program!
For the first part of our adventure, we will be staying in Tavernier, FL in conjoining ocean-front condominiums. Each camper will have her own twin or queen bed with linens provided! Tavernier is a great middle point for going down to Marathon for the aquarium and sea turtle hospital, and going up to Key Largo for coral restoration. We will have a full kitchen, pool access, and ocean front views. 2 Sea Turtle staff members will always be with the group, providing 24-hour same-sex supervision.
For the second part of our adventure, we are staying at MarineLab Key Largo. MarineLab is a wonderful non-profit environmental education center. Their mission is to use education and adventure in the Florida Keys marine ecosystem to foster environmental awareness and stewardship on a local, regional, and global scale. They offer housing, field-based learning, and many snorkel and scuba programs for 5th graders to college students and teachers.
MarineLab sits on Largo Sound in Key Largo, FL. Their main building houses air conditioned dorm rooms and labs for the MarineLab education program, offices, restrooms, maintenance shop and gift shop. In addition, they have a cafeteria and a floating conference center containing two classrooms with internet access. MarineLab is conveniently located in Key Largo, only one hour south of Miami. This location provides quick access to both the coral reefs of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Florida Bay in Everglades National Park. *You will need to pack your own twin linens for the dorms*
Will I get to see a real live sea turtle?
- Yes! The first stop on our adventure is at the sea turtle hospital located in Marathon, Florida. Here we will learn about their resident sea turtles and all the rehabilitation and research that is conducted throughout the Keys. At the end of the tour, we will get to feed one of the resident sea turtles! We will also see them at the aquarium and hopefully in the wild, while snorkeling or in kayaks!
What kind of community service will I be doing?
- Community service is one of the most rewarding aspects of this camp. All of our programs include service learning, such as beach cleanups to keep our sands sparkling because we see first hand the damage that human trash causes to turtles. Spring break campers will receive 15 hours of community service through citizen science data collection as well.
What kind of supervision do you provide?
- We provide 24-hour, same gender adult supervision. All of our instructors stay on site with our campers. All campers and staff must follow our camp guidelines, which are reviewed during orientation on the first day. This spring break trip is very exclusive and has a 4:1 camper to staff ratio.
What airport is best to fly into for your program, and do you provide a shuttle service?
- For this program, campers are required to arrive in Miami International Airport (MIA) between 11am-3pm Monday, 4/6 for pick up. Campers will be picked up by a Sea Turtle Camp staff member wearing a red t-shirt to start your spring break adventure. They will be taken to the airport for departure and our staff will stay until their flight is safely in the air. Flights must take off between 12-3pm Saturday, 4/11.
What if I can’t get in by the set check in time?
- Please contact our Program Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss arrivals and departures outside of our preferred times. Due to the short nature and traveling aspect of this trip, you must be able to arrive/depart in the listed time window.
What if my luggage doesn’t make it?
- Occasionally the airlines will misplace luggage or your suitcases will miss connecting flights. We recommend keeping essentials, such as medications, toiletries, bathing suit, and extra change of clothes, in their carry-on luggage just in case. We also recommend purchasing trip insurance when you select your flight. *Please pack in a soft sided suitcase (duffel bag) to fit in our travel vans.
Where do we stay during camp?
- For the first few days of our trip, we will be staying in Tavernier, Florida in ocean-front conjoining condominiums. The second half of our trip will be spent at Marine Lab in Key Largo, where we will be staying in dorm style bunk rooms. *You will need to bring your own twin set of sheets for Marine Lab*
How much spending money should I bring?
- We recommend campers bring $75 to $125. This is for snacks, souvenirs or gifts you wish to purchase while at camp. Marine Lab has soda machines that only accept quarters or $1 bills. Also, please keep in mind the first meal covered by Sea Turtle Camp is dinner the first day and the last meal covered is breakfast the last day- campers are responsible for any snacks or lunch in the airport. Please make sure they save enough to pay the baggage fee on the way home, if flying.
Does my child need to know how to swim to be able to attend this program?
- Yes. Due to the nature of this program, all campers must be able to swim and have a basic level of comfort in the water.
I am a finicky eater. Can you cater to special diets?
- We can accommodate many varieties of food preferences. If you require a special diet, we are happy to work with you to ensure your dietary needs are met. However, for travel programs this can be a bit harder due to the nature of the program and moving around – we are not in our confined cafeteria like our North Carolina Residential program in Topsail.
What do I need to bring?
- A complete packing list will be included with your camp forms, once you’ve completed the enrollment process. Please pack in a soft sided suitcase (duffel bag) to fit in our vans!
What sort of payment do you accept?
- We accept VISA, MC and AMEX credit cards; checks; or money orders. All credit card payments are processed online using a secure server. A 3% processing fee will be applied to all credit card transactions, except for the camp deposit. There is a $50 service charge for all returned checks.
Can I call home during camp?
- We have all campers check in with their parents upon arrival, but we have limited parental contact for the duration of the camp. Sea Turtle Camp is a growing experience, and we find that young people do best and gain confidence through independence. Campers are NOT allowed to carry cell phones at any time during camp. Any cell phones brought to camp will be collected upon arrival and returned upon departure. Parents will be updated through emails and the many pictures we’ll be posting on Facebook throughout the trip! We will provide an after-hours number to reach the office in the event of an emergency.
Do you have insurance?
- We carry a comprehensive insurance package, including general liability.
Should I purchase camp insurance?
- We highly recommend that camp insurance be purchased. We are not responsible for tuition refunds or expenses incurred for trip delays, cancellation, or illness. In the event that you must cancel at the last minute due to an unforeseen event, camp insurance can help protect your investment. We make available a competitively priced program created especially for the camp/summer study industry that we believe best meets the needs of our families.
What is your cancellation policy?
- Our cancellation policy can be viewed on our website. Our office staff would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding cancellation.