I started leading AquaCamps at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre four years ago and since then I have met hundreds of children that come to camp eager to learn all the secrets the ocean holds. It is these children, armed with their toughest questions and incredible curiosity that motivates me to dedicate my summers year after year to AquaCamps. One of the most exciting moments for me, is the first day of camp when among all the new faces I spot a familiar smile on the face of one of our many returning campers. It is encouraging to know that we create a community these children look forward to returning to year after year and sometimes even week after week.
I asked a few of these veteran campers why they keep coming back time and time again. One camper, Ruby, has an amazing attendance record. Since she first became a camper in 2013 she has attended more weeks of camp than she has missed. Her spirit is infectious and she makes sure every fellow camper has a friend at camp.
“I like AquaCamp because I got to go behind the scenes. We also visited the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre and saw lots of harbour seals. I like going to AquaCamp because I meet new friends. I love the Wet Lab because you can touch animals and help feed them. I can’t wait until I’m old enough to be a volunteer at the Aquarium!”
Ruby, age seven – AquaCamper since 2013
Another veteran camper is Milena. She comes to camp full of energy and eager to learn something new each time. Milena has been coming to camp longer than most camp educators and challenges them to be the best leaders they can be!
“I love the beach it has hermit crabs, shells, rocks and other cool things and creatures. I love the 4D shows they are cool and creepy and amazing and sometimes it is creepy for me. I love the show and bubbles too. It is just so much fun here at AquaCamps. I want to come back to AquaCamps because I like AquaCamps and I like to see my friends and I like to know more facts. I like it all because it is very different and we see shows see animals I love to learn more things every day it is different too. That’s why I like it.”
Milena, age seven – AquaCamper since 2013
Lastly, we have the brother and sister duo Claire and Cole. When Cole first attended AquaCamps, his sister Claire wasn’t quite old enough. But this spring, Claire finally turned four and was able to share the AquaCamp experience with her older brother.
“AquaCamps are the best because we learn all about marine life and how to take care of the ocean. I really liked seeing ‘Octopus Prime’ and the sea otters, especially Wally. I learned that the sea turtle only eats green food like broccoli, spinach and kale. The Wet Lab where I got to touch sea anemones, box crabs and sea cucumbers is something only AquaCamp kids get to do! On beach walks we can’t pick up rocks bigger than our heads to find sea creatures. It’s where camp leaders told me how to tell the difference between male and female crabs. The camp leaders always have exciting games like sea star tag and camouflage. AquaCamps are a lot of fun!”
Cole, age six – AquaCamper since 2013
“I liked learning about sea stars and that they can grow a new leg if they lose one. I liked watching the beluga show and seeing the penguins. I got to visit the Fish Lab where the babies are born! I liked playing shark tag with all my friends.”
Claire, age four – AquaCamper since 2015
We have many more veteran campers that we are looking forward to seeing back at camp this summer along with all the new campers that are sure to surprise us with their knowledge of the ocean, passion for conservation, and never ending energy.
Do you know a budding marine biologist between the ages of four and 12? Register them for a week of AquaCamp this summer!
Blog post by Nicole Straughan, children’s programs manager at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.