What began as a dream nearly five years ago, will become a reality on June 23-27, on Marco Island. Jane Watt, chair of Marco Island Academy, has been working closely with Dr. Richard Murphy, director of education for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society to establish the first Ambassadors of the Environment Camp in Florida.
Not only will the camp be the first one of its kind in Florida, it also will be the first joint-venture between Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures and a charter school in the entire world. Currently, the Ambassadors of the Environment programs are located in California, French Polynesia, Grand Cayman, St. Thomas, Hawaii and Turks and Caicos. Many of the Ambassadors of the Environment programs are affiliated with the Ritz-Carlton or a cruise line.
The Marco Island camp will feature hands-on learning activities and will work with many different local organizations to provide students with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Students will explore the mangroves on a kayak tour, visit the dolphins in their natural environment with the dolphin project crew, study local bird populations, tour local historical sites to learn about the Calusa Indians, visit Big Cypress (including a behind the scenes tour) and design their very own sustainable community.
Experts in every field will assist with the camp. Students will learn from a botanist, marine biologist, ornithologist, archeologist, hydrologist, architect and more.
The purpose of the camp is to take kids out into the natural environment — the shoreline, mangroves and even the school’s garden to experience subjects taught only in abstraction indoors. The Ambassadors four fundamental principles of ecology demonstrate how natural systems function and why a diversity of species is vital to maintaining healthy ecosystems.
From these insights, we can extract lessons from nature that are applicable to human communities. With these lessons, we can ask how human communities (ecosystems) function and explore similarities and differences. This focus will allow students to address questions of sustainability and search for alternatives that are more sustainable.
Empowerment, inspiration and motivation are an important part of the program. Ultimately, the camp helps to create ambassadors of the environment who are ready to tackle the challenges of redirecting society toward a more sustainable future. Murphy and Watt envision the camp will serve as a model that can be replicated by other schools across the country.
The camp is open to students ages 14-18, and will run June 23-27 from 8 AM-4 PM. The cost is $695/per person. To learn more about the camp or to sponsor a student for the program, please make checks payable to: Marco Island Discovery Center and mail to 970 Cape Marco Dr. #1706, Marco Island, FL 34145. For questions call 239-249-0004 or email [email protected]