Conservancy shares passion for island with virtual summer camp

Courtesy photo

Summer camps have looked a little different this year. Though the pandemic has brought challenges to youth programs, it has also led to exciting opportunities. One such silver lining was the chance to share about Catalina during a virtual field trip for Camp Inspire, a virtual summer camp run by the Education Outreach team at Florida International University’s College of Arts, Science & Education.

In late July, Catalina Island Conservancy presented information about Catalina, focusing on unique adaptations on Islands in general and Catalina in particular, to 17 kids aged 6-13. This Zoom-based field trip included videos and images of Island plants and animals including endemic species like the Catalina Island fox.

Camp Inspire gives kids the opportunity to engage in hands-on STEAM-focused activities. “Throughout the month of July, campers participated in a variety of science-based labs and activities, virtual field trips and ‘meet the scientists.’ Through virtual field trips, campers can ‘visit’ locations near and far from the safety of their home,” said Analisa Duran, Education Outreach Program Coordinator for the College of Arts, Sciences & Education at FIU. “Catalina’s virtual field trip took campers to a new place to see and learn about environments that are different from their own. They were able to draw connections between animal adaptations and the habitats they live in, whether it be in Miami or Catalina.”

One of the tasks that Conservancy Environmental Education Specialist Cressita Bowman traditionally has is sharing information about the Island with students through field trips to the interior of the Island. This time, she led the field trip virtually.

“I was impressed by how well the students participated verbally as well as through Zoom’s chat feature,” she said. “It was very rewarding to get the opportunity to share some of the plant and animal adaptations in both our areas.”

The campers actively participated through questions and a follow-along activity sheet as they virtually explored the Island.

“My favorite part was that one student made a custom Catalina background for the talk,” said Bowman.

“To me, it exemplified the excitement he had for learning about an island on the opposite coast from where he is growing up,” she said.

“I think it also goes to show that we can still connect and have meaningful learning experiences remotely,” she said.

Catalina Island Conservancy is committed to continue expanding virtual educational offerings and online resources for youth and adults. More information on these programs can be found at