turtle camp

Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Camp camper Oliver Van Der Onderaa crawls across the beach during a sea turtle nest relay race at Great Dunes beach.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island helps a new group of budding scientists discover a passion for sea turtle biology every summer through its Sea Turtle Camp. The center is offering the same opportunity this June and July, with expanded options to include more enthusiasts in the experience.

The center will offer three summer camp options this year. Camps are separated into groups that include rising first through fourth graders, rising fifth through seventh graders and — new this year — a family camp.

“For the first time ever, we’re premiering our family camp option, so grown-ups can come to camps as well,” said Nicki Thomas, education program manager for the center.

Every day of camp focuses on turtle biology and environmental conservation. Campers explore turtle habitats on the island, including the maritime forest, tidal marshlands and the beach.

“Our camp is really cool because we have the opportunity to get to engage guests that are generally really interested in conservation,” Thomas said. “We get to do that through a really charismatic species, which is our sea turtle.”

The camp emphasizes what individuals can do to protect turtle habitats, no matter how close to or far from the ocean campers live.

Camps run daily from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and include lunch. Each day includes a field trip as well as opportunities to get “down and dirty” in the environment, Thomas said.

In the afternoons, campers engage in fun activities related to the theme of the day.

“The first day is really focused on what are the species of sea turtles we have around here and why do we have a sea turtle hospital in Georgia,” Thomas said.

The second day focuses on the island’s maritime forest, which allows the camp instructors to transition into talking about other types of turtles that inhabit Jekyll Island, she said.

Campers also spend a day at the Summer Waves Water Park on Jekyll Island.

The camp offers an opportunity for learners young and old to explore sea turtle biology, Thomas said.

“It’s such a great opportunity for kids that are really interested in science or interested in especially marine science or marine biology,” she said. “It’s a nice window to learning about veterinary medicine and conservation all at the same time, and it’s a spark for those little bits of joy that may lead to future careers in this kind of field.”

Camp registration is available at jekyllisland.com/activities/sea-turtle-camp.

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