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Sanibel Sea School set to register youths for summer programs

February 8, 2018
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Registration for the Sanibel Sea School's summer camps is scheduled to open this weekend.

On Feb. 10, the non-profit will allow families to begin signing up campers who have previously participated in its programs. Registration for youth new to the camps will take place Feb. 17.

"We are doing two waves of registration," Nicole Finnicum, director of education, said.

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Children and teens take part in some of the camps offered last summer by the Sanibel Sea School. Registration for the upcoming season will open on Feb. 10 for returning campers and Feb. 17 for new ones.

"We open up a portion of our spaces for those returning campers," she added.

Returning campers can register online starting at 10 a.m.

"I would recommend people be ready online at 10 a.m. because our camps do fill up within minutes," Finnicum said, noting that families can also register online for a wait list when a camp fills up.

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On Feb. 17, new campers will have an opportunity to sign up, also starting at 10 a.m.

"It's our general registration, so open to anybody," she said.

"It will be for all of the remaining spots for the camps," Finnicum added.

The Sanibel Sea School will offer a variety of programs this summer.

"We're offering over 30 different weeks of camps at three different locations," she said.

The programs will take place at the flagship campus on the east end of Sanibel, the campus at the Sundial Beach Resort on Sanibel and through the Canterbury School, located in Fort Myers.

"We have something for almost every age group - from ages 4 to 18," Finnicum said.

"We have a few weeks just for the little ones," she added of youth ages 4-6.

Primarily, the summer camps are designed for children ages 6 to 13.

"We like to call them our island Skills Camps," she said. "They are marine biology-themed, weeklong and non-residential (campers are not kept overnight)."

The camps run Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"We spend most of our time out in the field exploring and learning about the topic of the week," Finnicum said, adding that some of the topics are hammerhead, dolphin, osprey and Calusa.

The campers will take part in different activities and lab experiments.

"In addition to that, we go surfing every day and we build up to a big surf paddle race that we have at the end of the week," she said.

The cost is $320 per week and campers should bring a lunch.

"We have our teens camps, as well," Finnicum said. "We offer a variety of them."

Open to ages 13 and up, some are day programs while others are overnight expeditions. One of the camps, called "Have Paddleboard, Will Survive," teaches paddleboarding and survival skills.

"We also have an all-female version of that camp, called 'Wahine Toa,'" she said.

Wahine Toa is a Polynesian phrase that roughly translates to fierce ocean woman warrior. During the program, girls ages 13 to 18 will learn to "become ocean women warriors" in the girls only camp.

The cost for the camps is $400 per week.

The overnight programs include a wilderness camp and canoeing the Caloosahatchee.

"We also do what we call our 'Keys Coral Reef Week,'" Finnicum said.

Costing $575 per week, there are two programs available: ages 11-12 and ages 13-15.

"During those weeks, we take campers down to Big Pine Key," she said.

The youth study coral reefs and ecology, all while getting in some snorkeling.

"We also do a Belize trip," Finnicum said.

Open to about 20 youth ages 15-18, the campers spend time studying the tropical rainforest and the coral reef ecologies. The youth also have an opportunity to conduct independent research projects.

The program costs $2,700 and is all-inclusive with air travel out of Fort Myers.

While the summer camps are going on, the Sanibel Sea School also runs a "Counselor in Training" or CIT program. Aimed at ages 13 to 18, the day program is open to both returning and new campers.

"It's a leadership program where we work on leadership skills and goal development," she said.

The cost of the CIP program is $210 per week.

Finnicum explained that the non-profit has been hosting camps for 10 years.

"We want to provide local kids with experimental hands-on learning," she said. "Our goal is to get kids out to the ocean and have them fall in love with it, so hopefully they can protect it in the future."

Finnicum encouraged families to look into the programs.

"I think it's something different for kids - Florida kids should be able to experience and learn about the ocean," she said. "It's also a great way to get kids outside in the summer."

To register online for the camps, visit

"We have a lot of different options," Finnicum said. "Essentially, we have something for everyone."

For more information, contact 239-472-8585 or



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