Registration is underway until April 2 for the 2013 summer camps at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point.
Sarah McGuire, education coordinator for the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Virginia at VIMS, said that an anonymous donor agreed to fund summer camp for about 100 children for five straight years. This will be the fifth year for the free camps.
McGuire said that the camps have been so popular that she hopes they will be continued in future years if other funding arrangements can be made.
Because of their popularity, McGuire said, a lottery system is used to select youth in grades 1-4; youth in grades 5-8 must answer essay questions to be considered.
Camp organizers are looking for children to attend who have an interest in the Chesapeake Bay, McGuire said. Age-appropriate activities are being planned.
"Sea Squirts," for first and second graders, will be held June 17-21 at the Gloucester Point campus. Fifteen students maximum can attend that camp, McGuire said, with the students exploring salt marshes and wetlands and investigating the underwater world of the Chesapeake Bay.
"Chesapeake Champions," for fifth and sixth graders, will be held June 24-28 at VIMS. Students will study and explore freshwater, brackish and saltwater habitats, use a variety of scientific tools including water quality equipment and microscopes to learn about the Chesapeake Bay, and participate in canoeing and seining in the York River. Two dozen students will be selected to participate in that camp.
"Bay Buddies," for third and fourth graders, will have two camps—one July 15-19 and the other July 22-26—at the Gloucester Point campus. Students will learn about ways to protect and preserve the Chesapeake Bay environment, McGuire said, and will use field guides, make crafts and complete projects to benefit the bay. Twenty-four students maximum per session will be admitted.
The busy camp season will end the week of Aug. 5-10, as "Estuary Explorers," for grades seven and eight, will meet at the VIMS Eastern Shore Laboratory at Wachapreague. Participants will explore barrier islands and mud flats, study dune ecology and examine marine organisms in the lab, a flyer said. Students will stay at the VIMS dormitory and receive their meals. Sixteen students will be selected to attend that camp.
McGuire will be assisted at the camps by education specialist Jaclyn Miller and Christian Chesley of the University of Miami (Fla.), an intern whose salary is paid by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hollings Grant.
All students will be notified of acceptance into camps by April 9, McGuire said. For more information, contact McGuire at 684-7878 or firstname.lastname@example.org.