The USM Marine Education Center is back in full schedule for the 2022 summer camps – Natural Self Esteem

Thu, 04.07.2022 – 2:37 p.m | From: Van Arnold

Annual summer camps at the University of Southern Mississippi Marine Education Center (MEC) offer students in grades 1-12 an adventurous learning experience on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

These five-day camps are packed with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) activities. During the camps, children enjoy hands-on, immersive learning activities in a unique coastal setting. The center is located at the university’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Miss.

Last year, COVID-19 precautions forced the MEC to only offer three weeks of traditional camp sessions to a limited number of campers (24 per session). Nevertheless, the experience was worth it, according to MEC Director Dr. Jessie Chancellor.

“We were so excited to be able to offer the abridged selection as well after having to cancel 2020 and last year COVID was still a concern,” she said. “It was so successful. We filled all camper spots and a quarter of the campers participated on need-based grants. Our campers had a great time.”

Kastler notes that all camps benefited tremendously from working with USM’s Center for Fisheries Research and Development (CFRD), as campers had numerous opportunities to interact with scientists to identify different species of sharks from the CFRD research collection and learn different fishing techniques.

As registration for the 2022 camps is in full swing, the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Kastler points out that the camp preparations are in full swing again. “It feels very normal. In a word – frantic,” she said.

Sea Camp for grades 1-6 returns for its 35th year with the theme ‘Ultimate Sea-vivor’. Other popular camps include Shark Fest and Angler Camp for students in grades 7-12. New this year is the four-day adventure camp for students in grades 4-12.

Spending time outdoors – especially in the summer months – is nothing new to most children. However, the MEC summer camp experience offers many students their first opportunity to spend extended periods of time on the Gulf Coast near bays, beaches, marshes and islands.

“For even more children, it’s their first opportunity to spend time on boats and kayaks and actively learn about our coastal environment,” said Kastler. “This is the only opportunity most have had and the only opportunity many will ever have to interact with scientists, collect data and explore how science works.”

The MEC 2022 Summer Camps include:

Shaggy’s Angler Camp (Grades 7-12: June 27 – July 1 and July 11 – 15)

Fishing, fishing, fishing and more fishing during the week. Young anglers fish every day with an experienced saltwater fishing teaching team. Participants explore the biology and behavior of fish and how weather, wind, moon and tides affect fishing. During the week anglers learn how to cast a net to catch bait and how to target speckled trout, redfish and flounder. Participants will fish a variety of saltwater habitats on board ships and on the islands.

Sharkhead’s Shark Festival (Grades 7-12: June 6-10 and June 13-17)

Spend a week learning all about one of the ocean’s apex predators. Shark Fest attendees can encounter sharpnose, crested, blacktip, spinner, hammerhead and bull sharks. Board ships to fish for sharks and participate in shark research with our USM scientists by capturing, tagging and releasing sharks.

sea ​​camp (Grades 1-6: June 6-10, July 13-17, July 27-1, July 11-15, 18-22, July 25-29)

Marine educators provide students with a rich educational experience embedded in lots of fun, games and hands-on activities. Participants explore the coastal salt marshes with educators aboard the university research ship The Mrs. Peetsy B. Activities include live animal encounters with coastal wildlife and opportunities for fishing, crabbing, seine and sieving. The students take part in age-appropriate excursions, e.g. B. exploring beach habitats.

Island adventure camp (Grades 4-12: June 21-14 and July 5-8)

This new camp will take campers to explore the sandy beaches of some of the northern Gulf of Mexico’s major islands. Campers learn about the island ecology and geography of the Mississippi Islands. The adventure begins with beach days and swamp tours before heading out later in the week to explore Deer Island and learn about the coastal reserves.

The MEC works across USM’s shoreline operations to engage members of the public in marine science, advance careers, and encourage community participation through formal and informal educational programs that provide participants with a better understanding of the Gulf.

“The activities are designed to be both fun and good learning experiences, which motivates children to learn more about their natural environment and some of the ways humans are changing the environment,” said Kastler. “With global environmental changes these children will have to contend with as adults, it’s important they get an opportunity to experience the excitement of being outside and learn how to become active stewards without becoming pessimistic.”

To learn more about the Marine Education Center and to register for camps and workshops, call 228.818.8095 or visit:

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