Marine Camp 2016: Underwater Investigator Sneak Peak

The Underwater Investigator camp for entering 6th-8th graders is a week-long program that is sure to inspire curiosity about the various fields within marine science. This summer campers will explore a different marine science field each day, including marine ecology and conservation, biodiversity, physical and biological oceanography, biomimicry, and will even learn what it takes to be an aquarist. They will practice scientific data collection on land by using real scientific equipment and they will also create their own quadrat, a research tool used to collect data to survey the biodiversity and health of a habitat. Campers will also spend a fun day canoeing to nearby Bair Island where they will investigate mud-dwelling invertebrates, examine the hydrology of the slough, and check out native and non-native plants that make this wetland such a unique habitat.

Their camp week culminates in a fun 2-day-long trip aboard our research vessel, and campers and staff even sleep aboard the boat! Campers will board the boat at 9am on the Thursday of their camp week and participate in various marine science studies as they venture to Sausalito for field trip activities. They will then have free time playing games and exploring the area while we barbecue dinner. Campers will then board the boat and watch a movie as we head to the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor for the overnight portion. On Friday campers will use scientific equipment to sample fish from the Bay, examine invertebrates from the mud, and study plankton underneath a microscope. This fun-filled week is packed with action!

Currently all of the Underwater Investigator sessions are full but campers can still be registered for the waitlists.


June 20-24

July 11-15

July 25-29



Marine Camp 2016: Wetland Explorers Sneak Peak

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Opportunities are abound in the Wetland Explorer camp for 2nd-5th graders. This camp explorers our local habitats and the animals that inhabit our incredible backyard. Campers will explore the life found in our local estuary, marshes, sloughs and mudflats. With Bair Island Ecological Reserve across the waterway from Marine Science Institute, campers will be inspired and curious about the vast array of wildlife this area offers. This shoreline habitat makes the Bay ecosystem healthier by providing homes for diverse animals that live only in this habitat, migratory birds that use the marsh as a pit-stop along their route, and by acting as a sponge by filtering pollutants and heavy metals from run-off.

During their week learning about the San Francisco Bay’s wetlands, Wetland Explorers will discover the animal life that calls our estuarine habitat home. This camp is geared toward California’s science standards taught during the school year, and is fun and interactive. Campers will touch animals and participate in hands-on activities, games, crafts and songs tailored toward the material.

All Wetland Explorer camps have:

  • 2 days at our site to study live animals from our aquarium and to engage in other science projects both indoors and outside
  • 2 field trips (reached by school bus) that feature different habitats
  • 1 day aboard our ship that includes fishing, studying plankton, sampling mud, and learning about nautical navigation
  • 2 staff plus a volunteer for every 15 campers
  • Flexible curriculum that engages multiple learning styles

The first field trip is to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco. Here campers will tour the only square-rigged ship left in the San Francisco Bay area, the Balclutha. Built in 1886, the Balclutha was a cargo ship that traveled around the world and now resides in San Francisco as a National Historic Landmark. Campers will learn sea shanties and learn how the San Francisco Bay became one of the world’s largest and most important seaports. Campers will also explore birdlife and invertebrates through activities with binoculars and on the docks at the aquatic park. Kelp crabs, giant bay anemones and nudibranchs as large as your hand will fascinate Wetland Explorers as they compare the invertebrate life in this North Bay area with that found on our docks in the South Bay.

The second field trip is to the Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve, which includes the only extensive wetland along the coast of the San Francisco peninsula. This area hosts extensive flat hiking trails where campers will utilize binoculars and bird field guides to spot some of the 60 species of birds that nest in the marsh (and 200 that fly through it!) and the importance of the marsh as a breakpoint along the Pacific Flyway. They will also use field guides to identify and differentiate between native and non-native plant species. We can even spot harbor seals as they surface, or leopard shark fins as they search along the bottom for food during low tide!

The Wetland Explorer camp is an excellent option for young scientists to learn about our nearby marine habitats. All Instructors have a degree in Marine Biology, Environmental Science, Education or a related field, and many have field research experience and will emphasize different aspects of the curriculum. Each instructor has their own unique teaching style so no two weeks of camp are the same.

Join us for this unique experience as campers explore the science that is practically in their backyard. Camps run Monday through Friday, 8:30am-3pm with extended care available until 5:30pm.


June 13-17

June 20-24

June 27-July 1

July 11-15

July 18-22

July 25-29



Good Bye Summer, a BayLines Original Article

Article by Felicia Van Stolk, Marine Camp Manager, Marine Science Institute

Saying goodbye to summer is always bittersweet. As we look forward to a new school year, we reflect upon the experiences, new friends and reunions enjoyed during the long summer days. We enjoyed seeing more familiar faces than ever—returning campers, campers-turned-volunteers, volunteers-turned-counselors, and returning counselors and instructors! This crew of enthusiastic leaders has made this summer truly unforgettable. They came from far and wide, with a variety of backgrounds, but with a common connection to MSI.

Our Marine Science Camp instructors have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in marine science, biology, education or a related field. Most of them teach at MSI throughout the year and are dedicated, experienced environmental educators,but a few join us from across the country during the summer to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to our lessons. They are role models to campers who are excited to learn from real marine scientists.

Our summer camp counselors are either in college or have already received their degrees. They work closely with the instructors to help create a fun and safe learning place for our campers. Many of our counselors volunteered for previous summer camps or were campers once themselves!

The final pieces in the puzzle are our wonderful volunteers. Our summer camp volunteers are vital to helping summer camp run. They are buddies, helpers and friends to each and every camper—especially the campers that benefit from having just a little extra help making friends and getting involved. We are so grateful to have had these energetic and generous people helping us out each summer, and hope to see them again as counselors and instructors!

As we say goodbye, we wish everyone a great year. I am glad that many of our staff will return to teach during the school year, and we will miss those who are headed for different adventures at school, at other outdoor education institutions and abroad.

Thank you to our amazing summer staff.
Camp would not be possible with out your enthusiasm and positive kid friendly energy!

To learn more about camp or job opportunities please visit our webpage at


This article was featured in our BayLines Autumn Edition 2015.

Marine Science Institute is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) not for profit organization
©2015. All Rights Reserved

Marine Camp Sneak Peek: Keeping Current

Summer after summer we are excited to welcome new faces to the Marine Science Camp community. In the past few years we have also been happy to see familiar faces returning to learn more and to share their knowledge. It is important that we keep our curriculum fresh and exciting while preserving time-tested favorites such as studying our sharks and fish.

Returning campers entering 4th and 5th grade have the option to join our “Naturalist” camps. These camps are specifically for campers with prior MSI experience—this shared experience will be the basis for their team-building and also the scaffolding of knowledge on which the camps will build. We are excited to have our Naturalists diving deeper into marine science with us, and doing even more science throughout the week.

No matter what grade, all of our camps will feature new and re-imagined curriculum that will engage even our most experienced campers. Current events, new research, and topics of emerging interest and importance influence our curriculum development. Our student stewards will learn about the drought and our watershed. They will explore the world ocean gyres and currents that carry animals (and trash) around the globe. They will be on the cutting edge with science technology.

Space is still available in these awesome camps!

Click Here to SIGN UP TODAY.  

Marine Camp Sneak Peek: Plankton Pioneers, Small but Mighty

Our Plankton Pioneers (campers entering kindergarten thru 1st grade) are in for an exciting week. Just like real plankton, our Plankton Pioneers are small but important, and are beginning a hopefully long journey with MSI. We have had some MSI stars that started as Plankton and have swam their way through all the camps to become volunteers and even counselors!

Touching a leopard shark

Touching a leopard shark

A week of Plankton Pioneer camp opens campers’ eyes to the magic and wonder of marine life. Learning about and touching live animals in a safe and exciting environment inspires excitement about science, and an awe of nature. Campers won’t even realize that they are learning as they play, dance, and sing about the animals and habitats that they are experiencing first-hand.

Some favorite games include the “Plankton Game” and “Marine Yoga”. These simple activities get bodies moving and imaginations flowing—and they reinforce concepts about the animals campers have seen! In the “Plankton Game” our Plankton Pioneers act like (what else?) Plankton, and “drift” with their leader “the water” through whirlpools, waves and changing tides! For “Marine Yoga” our Plankton stretch their imaginations to pose and act like their favorite animals—they reach with their tentacles like an anemone, walk like a crab and jump like a shrimp. We love to see smiling faces and hear giggles and laughter as our campers remember all of the different animals that they have touched.

Each day of camp has a special theme that introduces campers to different aspects of marine science, plus, of course, Boat Day! The games, songs and animals that campers see each day pertain to these themes. Each of the days spent on land also feature a fun craft! Your camper will come home with a colorful creation related to what they learned about every day—a perfect souvenir and conversation starter.

Space is still available for your budding biologist, sign up today!

Marine Camp Sneak Peek: Summer Scholarship Fund

Mud grab boatSummer camp is a time for children to enjoy making friends, sharing interests, and learning outside the classroom. Summer matters, it is important to keep young minds and bodies in motion, and doing so is proven to help kids transition back into school in the fall more successfully. At Marine Science Institute we provide funding for schools to enjoy our programs year-round, and it is important for us to continue to create equity and increase access to quality programs through the summer.

Our Summer Camp Scholarship Fund provides opportunities for children from families with demonstrated financial need to enjoy the fun, learning, and benefits of summer camp. This fund is supported entirely by the charitable donations of our community. We have been touched by the generosity of families, individuals, and even other children who have raised funds and contributed. By giving to this fund, local families are investing in the future of young scientists.

Please consider supporting this fund today. For a limited time only, donations to this fund will be matched! CLICK HERE to make a contribution.

Visit our Scholarship page to learn more and to apply for a scholarship.

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Marine Camp Sneak Peek: A Sea of Choices


It is about time to start planning for the summer and finding the perfect camps for your family.

Marine science camp is a wonderful way for children to excite their curiosity and enthusiasm for learning about, and caring for, the environment. Whether they are getting introduced to marine science, or are diving into a subject that they are already passionate about, campers are inspired by interactions with live animals and taking part in science in action. Finding just the right marine science camp with the perfect blend of activities to suit your budding biologist involves some careful planning and consideration.

The ultimate marine science camp. This can be so many things. The first ocean literacy principle states that the Earth has one big ocean with many features. There is so much to learn! What is the most important to you and to your child? If you live near a coast or body of water, your child’s connection to the world ocean may begin in their own backyard. No need to travel—marine science can start with the waterways that connect us all to the sea. What better way to realize that they are part of nature than to see these connections in places familiar to a person, just as they do at MSI’s Marine Science Camp?

Summer camps of all kinds are a time of tremendous growth and development. New challenges and new skills are honed through fun and friendship. What kind of journey is your camper ready for? While considering what adventures your camper will experience, it is also important to trust in their guides. At the Marine Science Institute’s Marine Science Camp in Redwood City, CA, the instructors are full-time educators and marine biologists. These leaders will be your camper’s companions and role models. They will facilitate your camper’s growth and learning, and are ready to be challenged themselves by your camper’s questions and interests.

Hydrology on the otis bMarine Science Camp: Things to Consider

  • LOCATION: Is it easy to get to? Does it provide access to interesting sites?
  • ACTIVITIES: Swimming, boating, field trips. What skills are you looking to improve?
  • THEMES: Animal interactions, experiments, stewardship. What does your camper want to focus on?
  • ACADEMICS: How rigorous of a program are you looking for?
  • QUALIFICATIONS: Do you trust the organization, its mission, and the staff?


Share this article, and the opportunity to register with your friends and family.

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Marine Camp Sneak Peek: More than Fishy Friends

Our campers come to camp hoping to learn more about marine science. They get to see live animals and enjoy a voyage on the Bay. All of these fantastic memories are best shared with new friends!

Friends make camp work! Whether navigating the marsh in a canoe, or following each other on a trust walk.


Meeting new peers with the same interest in nature is an important part of camp. Teams of young scientists share their knowledge and help each other to discover new things. Icebreakers and teambuilding activities are highlighted throughout camp to help everyone find friends and participate. Campers will have a chance to spend time one on one with peers as well as working with their whole group. Games help us all to loosen up and have fun. We play a variety of active and low energy games, as well as collaborative and competitive games to make sure that all learning

photo 3

As sign ups continue, I am excited to see some returning campers register with friends that they met at camp. Spaces are still available throughout the summer—make sure you invite your friends to join!


Marine Camp Sneak Peek: Explorers

We are all explorers of the world, with many things to learn and observe and experience. MSI is happy to share two different “Explorer” camps to children entering 2nd-5th grades (groups are sub-divided by grade). These camps are carefully crafted to guide our campers on a journey of discovery through different habitats, using standards-based, grade-specific curriculum that challenges them and accesses their prior knowledge.

IMG_6457Our Bay Explorer camp takes advantage of the science and nature in our own backyards. Sloughs, salt marshes, mudflats and wetlands that we drive by on our commutes every day become laboratories, study areas and places of discovery. This summer our Bay Explorers will enjoy visiting the Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Preserve and the Pescadero marsh, where they will learn how we are all connected to complex watershed ecosystems, habitats and the animals that depend on them. While at MSI, their teachers will be the live bay animals in our aquarium and their classrooms will be our facilities—right next to the unique protected habitats of BairIsland.

Exploring tide pools at Bean Hollow

Exploring tide pools at Bean Hollow

Ocean Explorers sail around the world and dive to the deep as they examine the many habitats in our world’s ocean. Field trips take them from more familiar coastal habitats such as the tide pools and beaches at Bean Hollow to the mysterious and unique habitats of the Farallones, which they will explore with the guidance of the experts at the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center. Our aquarium’s ocean animals will give campers a chance to learn from up-close interactions with living ambassadors from the sea. Their trip aboard our ship will connect our lives in the Bay to the life that circulates around the globe through the ocean.

These camps are packed to the gills with hands-on explorations and science projects. Our expert staff provides knowledge while creating a safe, collaborative and fun learning environment, full of songs, games and crafts that make learning a breeze. Each camp has different activities to emphasize their specific themes so that campers can enjoy both types of camp without repetition. Join us, explorers!

Marine Camp Sneak Peek: Underwater Investigators

Our Underwater Investigator camp (as well as all of our other camps) has been re-worked to include new activities and themes. Last summer the Underwater Investigator camp focused on Biomimicry, taking inspiration from nature to solve a problem and complete a couple of projects. This summer we will focus on the evolution of adaptations and how they have helped organisms to survive in a shifting climate.


Underwater Investigators will develop the foundations for understanding evolution and climate through our standards-based curriculum and projects. They will be able to think critically and answer questions such as:

Ocean creatures have changed from small amoeba-like organisms to large predators

How has the Earth changed over geologic time?

What are (natural and man-made) forces that influence the Earth’s climate?

Why have some animals looked so different throughout Earth’s history?

What causes animals to change?

How do organisms interact with the climate?

This new curriculum is standards-based and will include new projects, as well as some of the old favorites from past Underwater Investigator camps. There will still be dissections, canoe trips, a visit to Angel Island, fishing and an over-night on the boat.

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