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Summer camps return to Birch Aquarium with lessons from sea life to surfing

Courtesy of Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
In this undated photo, summer campers learn about underwater sea life in the 70,000 gallon main tank at the Birch Aquarium, La Jolla, Calif.

In-person and underwater learning will be back at the Birch Aquarium this summer. Registration just opened for a full schedule of week-long camps catering to kids 5 to 13 years of age.

COVID-19 prevented regular education programming for the past two summers. Starting in June, young campers will once again be able to interact with sea animals at the aquarium and in the water at the La Jolla beach below. The fun also includes a critical curriculum about climate change.

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“For our younger audiences, we definitely concentrate on empathy and how their connections to animals play a really critical part,” said the aquarium's director of education, Megan Medley. “As we move into older students we can get into some of the harder topics as well as giving them some really tangible action items that they can play into their everyday lives and make sure they feel that they can be advocates.”

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The loosening of protocols and the drop in COVID-19 cases in San Diego County allowed the Aquarium to return to hosting school fields trips earlier this spring. The summer sessions will abide by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and health department mandates at the time they begin June 21.

Courtesy of Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
In this undated photo, a student snorkels off the coast of La Jolla, Calif.

There is a team of teachers who lead the summer camps that range from half-day activities for younger elementary students to full-day training sessions in snorkeling and surfing in the ocean for older and more advanced students. Lessons offer recreation and mental health break from the stress of pandemic problems.

“We are supporting healthy safe environments for those campers … having some time with the animals is so therapeutic we are finding the balance of science content as well as self-exploration, self-reflection time,” said Medley.

Discounts are available for Birch Aquarium members and scholarships are also available for families who need them.