Dedicated to teaching children and adults about marine ecosystems Sanibel Sea School is located in Sanibel Island with a second campus inside the South Seas Island Resort in Captiva. The Sanibel and Captiva locations where carefully chosen because of their rich estuary ecosystems. This non-for-profit has experiential educational programs for children and adults that take full advantage of it’s location on the these beautiful barrier islands brimming with marine life.
As part of a three-day getaway at the beautiful South Seas Island Resort we signed the kids up for a full day at the Sanibel Sea School, which would give us the opportunity to relax and enjoy a day to ourselves. Before our trip we checked their website and my children 5 and 7 where really excited about it when they saw all the pictures of kids armed with pails, nets and snorkels exploring the beach. My daughter has some special needs and initially I was a little concerned but after talking to them on the phone my doubts disappeared as they have a lot of experience with kids with different abilities.
We arrived early on a Tuesday morning and as we entered the small building both of my children ran right in. They couldn’t wait to touch and inspect the countless seashells and other marine objects that covered every surface and peek into the various aquariums excitedly pointing out fish, crabs and starfish.
As my husband and I left them to go on our own little adventure to Cayo Costa I wondered if they would not get bored staying there all day and if they would miss us. Boy was I in for a surprise!
We checked on the kids after we came back from our morning cruise to Cayo Costa and as we walked in we where greeted by two smiling faces bursting with enthusiasm, they where both talking at the same time and pulling each of us in different directions to show us everything they had done and learned. I almost wished I had tagged along with them when I heard about all the wonderful things they had experienced.
Each day the kids are taught a different subject and that day they learned about seagrass and fiddler crabs. The kids spent the morning exploring seagrass beds and discovering their inhabitants. They went canoeing, encountered a friendly dolphin who decided to accompany them for part of the trip, saw a baby manatee and helped catch a baby puffer fish that was brought back to the Ocean Discovery Center. They where wet and happy, their eyes dancing with excitement and you could just see in their faces that they had a truly unforgettable experience.
The afternoon included crafts and other activities in the classroom and as we left to have lunch at The Pointe two kids from Switzerland came into the Ocean Discovery Center and my children ran to greet them and tell them all about their morning adventures. I couldn’t help but wonder how amazing this experience would be for them coming from so far away if my children who live in Southwest Florida had such an awesome time.
We are lucky to live in Southwest Florida, an area rich with natural beauty but sometimes I get caught up in the day-to-day life and forget how close we are to paradise. Although we visit the beach often it wasn’t until my children spent a day at Sanibel Sea School that I realized what an amazing opportunity for learning and growing we have right here in our own back yard.
What sets Sanibel Sea School apart from other educational programs it that they focus on providing hands on learning opportunities by encouraging students to touch, feel, learn, understand and form a bond with the ocean and it’s inhabitants. More than an educational experience, Sanibel Sea School wants to bring about transformation by getting kids excited about practicing good ocean stewardship.
A couple of weeks have gone by since we where at South Seas Island Resort and my children attended Sanibel Sea School and my daughter is still talking about all the different types of seagrass (or should I say she is still teaching me about seagrass). I was truly amazed at how much they learned. Kelly and Brittany, both ocean advocates and environmental educators, where amazing with the kids. They provided a wealth of information about the ocean and about conservation and they where able to include my daughter in all of the activities. We spent 3 days in Captiva and attending the Sanibel Sea School was their favorite activity. They won’t stop taking about it and about what they learned and how much they would like to go back.
To get a better idea of what a day at Sanibel Sea School looks like watch the video below.
Tuition is $90 for a full day (lunch not included) or $55 for a half day and Summer camp is $250 weekly. If the cost of the program is preventing you from enrolling your child Sanibel Sea School encourages you to call them so they can work with you to ensure ocean education for all.
Disclosure: My children where provided with a full day scholarship for the Sanibel Sea School as part of a press trip to South Seas Island Resort. However I was not asked to write about my experience or expected to provide a review. All of the opinions stated are sincere, are my own and are the product of my personal experience .
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