I joined the Sea Camp sail staff in 2012 after USC’s School of Cinematic Arts accepted me into their Film and Television Production program. Before coming to Catalina, I worked for ten years as the Assistant Sail Director for a day camp in Coconut Grove, Florida for children ages 7-13. I also sailed competitively throughout high school, traveling around the country to various regattas.
My first summer on the island was filled with new experiences, exciting adventures, and lifelong friendships. I earned the sail name Ripple Dill my very first week at camp after reading a label on a bucket and it immediately became part of my identity. Check these camper sail names: What would your sail be?
It has been an incredible privilege to be part of the sail staff and we have created our own little family. We collaborate to create the safest and most enjoyable program possible for our campers, we plan trips together for our days off, and reunite regularly when we are off the island. In particular, the Tubbs family, who have had all three of their children work at Toyon Bay, have welcomed me into their family, which is a great resource for someone from the east coast.
I have also enjoyed watching our campers share my passion for sailing and grow from children into young adults. This past spring, one of my favorite sailors was accepted to my alma mater, Bowdoin College, and will be attending in the fall. When I return to Los Angeles at the end of the summer, I will graduate from my masters program and plan to pursue a career at a talent agency. I know that the lessons that I have learned here will serve me well for the rest of my life and Toyon Bay will always be a place that I call home.
Running a summer art program for kids can be a challenging balance game. Keeping campers entertained and interested while keeping projects simple and relatively mess free is the ultimate goal, and I always try to mix things up so our returning campers aren’t doing the same projects year after year! I’ve done tie-dye and bleach out shirts, tiles, clay, watercolor, shrinky-dinks, silk painting and more, but I’ve always wanted to do a batik project.
Batik is the process of dying intricate designs on fabric using hot wax to block out shapes while dying the fabric with various colors. Hot wax is a tricky thing to use and keep track of when working with kids, and the materials can be expensive though, so I have strayed away from it in the past. This year however I have tried a different version of batik that is simple and kid friendly! We made a batik design on bandanas and they turned out great!
plain white bandana
bottle of washable Elmer’s Glue
Acrylic paint, paint brushes, and water
Step One: On scratch paper, lay out a design for your batik. It could be words, images, or just a cool line design. Sky’s the limit! Just think about how you want to add color and what your design will look like in the end. Once you’ve perfected your design on paper, you’re ready for the real thing!
Step Two: Using the bottle of Elmer’s glue, draw out your design on your bandana. Be careful not to make thick lines of glue or heavy dots. You want your lines to be thin and steady across the surface of the fabric.
Step Three: Let the glue dry in the sun and work on something else!
Backup projects are a huge part of the Art Shack at camp. Things like jewelry or friendship bracelets, lanyards, coloring book pages, etc. are important to have ready while projects dry or if a camper isn’t particularly involved in the project you are doing. Check out this video of another simple project that we do at camp.
Step Four: Now that the glue is dry (about 30 minutes or so of drying time), it’s time to paint! Using acrylic paint, add water to the palette to really water the paint down a bit. This makes it much easier to spread across the fabric and gives the finished project a cool, lighter effect. Cover the entire face of the fabric in paint putting colors wherever you’d like, and there’s no need to avoid the glue lines- you can paint right over the top of them! Again, reminder that you do not need heavy paint on the bandana- the lighter the layer, the better it will look and the easier it will dry.
You may want to cover your surface with paper for the paint portion, since the fabric is thin and tends to soak through onto your working surface. (You don’t want to put paper underneath for the wet glue portion however, as the glue will soak through and dry to the paper, eventually taking the paper with it when you pick up the bandana. It is easier to pull the fabric off of the table surface and wipe it down after you are finished to get rid of any glue that may have stuck to the table.)
Step Five: Let the paint dry (acrylic dries rather quickly). Once it is completely dry, throw your bandana in a wash cycle with cold water and tumble dry on low. This sets the paint in, washes the glue off of the bandana and leaves thin white lines wherever your glue was, exposing the original design you made! It also softens the fabric so now you are ready to use your bandana or display it somewhere for it to be admired! Voila!
Hi! I’m Emily Davidson, and I’m on the Science & Adventure staff at Toyon Bay.
Four years ago when I started college, I could have never imagined ending up in such an exquisite place as this. Rugged, picturesque Catalina is the best classroom I could ever ask for, with an abundance of resources for hands-on learning, adventure, and, of course, fun.
As my primarily research-focused undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were wrapping up, I began questioning many aspects of my education. As a chemistry major who focused on chemical oceanography (the study of chemical processes that occur within marine ecosystems) I found my passion for science and discovery through hands-on, relevant experiments and excursions in my classes and research laboratory. I realized I was incredibly lucky to have had such a supportive and immersive education – something that far too few students have the opportunity to experience.
Every time I told someone I was a chemistry major, I got a nearly universal reaction of disgust and “why would you do that to yourself?!” A lot of people dislike science, especially once they reach the high school and collegiate level. I believe this is because so few people get to experience hands-on, interactive, relevant science activities at a young age. With the challenges our growing world faces in the future, it is essential that the next generation of scientists be prepared and passionate about facing those challenges and answering the questions that need to be answered.
CIMI’s summer sea camps and school year programs are providing a stellar service to kids of all different backgrounds by exposing them to an amazing facet of this earth they may otherwise never experience. After struggling to decide what I wanted to do after graduation, it became clearer and clearer that CIMI was the perfect place to make a difference in kids’ lives and the future. CIMI has a fantastic staff that is teaching kids in ways that truly engage them and bridge the gap between academics that many students perceive as unimportant by making nature the classroom, and by bundling fun and interactive learning to inspire kids to follow their interests and discover the amazing beauty and chaos of our natural world, and, most importantly, pushing them to dream, ask questions, and change the world.
Check out our Catalina Sea Camp science in action:
Sometimes you have to just got to get out and try something new! Some of our campers are nervous to even think about diving in a couple years. Our scuba in a bucket class gives them a small glance into what going diving might be like.
Trying something new like going diving or even coming to Catalina Sea Camp can be a challenging experience. Sometimes even our staff has the same nerves about coming to camp as the campers do. Check out these two stories from our loved international staff.
WOW Surfs Up at Catalina Sea Camp
All my life, I have spent traveling Europe, surfing different spots, going back home to Portugal to see family and close friends. In all that time I never dreamed a place like Toyon Bay and Catalina Sea Camp could exist. I still remember walking out of the airport doors at LAX and thinking to myself; ‘this is a different world’.
I grew up with a bunch of younger cousins (14 to be precise) and I have always had a blast playing with them and coaching them in they’re life experiences. I love it! It’s such a nice feeling to have when you know you have made that small change in a child’s life. Seeing them smile when they have accomplished something like when my little 7 year old cousin, Tiago caught his first wave! His smile was priceless. The feeling is something that cannot be explained, however I knew at that moment I wanted to coach the sport I love which is surfing and I wanted to help kids achieve they’re potential in activities they enjoy. Possibly even show them new sports or activities that they might love the rest of their lives. Thankfully, I am in the right job for that and it’s the job I have here at Catalina Sea Camp.
I got myself through a surfing academy and got my instructors qualification to coach surfing. I have been doing it for a few years now, coaching new students at my university and coaching clients back home in Portugal. But I never knew I would get the opportunity to come to such an amazing place like Catalina Sea Camp to do what I love.
The amount of activities I have done since arriving at Catalina Sea Camp, well I’ve lost count. The amount of times I have had to step out of my comfort zone (eg. Touching sharks for the first time or diving to depths I never thought I could) has been more than I can remember but believe me, I would do it over and over again because CIMI has given me so much in the past month and I will be doing everything to give back to them. It is so much fun playing with the kids out in the water or climbing with them on the climbing wall. It’s a great feeling to have knowing that I am showing them a great time at Toyon Bay and seeing they’re smiles and making new friends is awesome!
My adventure here at Catalina Sea Camp has only just begun, I have met some great and friendly bunch of people who I can call friends. I look forward to so much more learning both for me and the children who attend Catalina Sea Camp. Here’s to summer and here’s to Catalina Sea Camp!
The Girl from Africa, Lands at Catalina Sea Camp.
It all started when I had the urge to travel and go overseas. I went on to the internet and searched…”work at summer camps in the USA”. I came across an agency that ultimately helped me get this job. Paul “Butterkup” Kupferman, contacted me through this agency. When I got the first email from him I was super excited but also very nervous. I had an online interview, because of course, I was in South Africa and he was in California. I knew my skills and qualifications in Culinary Arts and experience with taking care of children would be perfect for the job of the Sea Food Cookery Instructor, and so after a nerve-wracking interview I got the job.
I was ready to leave South Africa to experience the cultures of America, especially Toyon Bay. I said goodbye to my family and off I went. I travelled for 15 hours non-stop to the USA, thinking of what I was going to teach the campers.
I was greeted by Guided Discoveries staff and spent a night at the founders Kristi and Ross Turner’s house. They are amazing, caring, and welcoming people. I am not just saying that because they are the boss, they are genuinely the sweetest people. We took the boat to Catalina Island and off I went to begin my new life at Catalina Sea Camp.
During staff training I got my Sea Food Cookery area ready with a new deep fryer, a new fridge, a new flat top grill, and many more awesome kitchen items. I went snorkeling, kayaking, rock climbing and went on a giant swing. After a week of training the campers arrived. Yay. The joy on the kids faces as well as the instructors was the best view of all.
Today, the campers had guacamole with pita bread, shrimp tempura with noodles, watermelon crush and OREO ICE CREAM! I have been here for more than a month and it has been the best experience yet. Everyone here is amazing. I am so glad I had the courage to come out here to experience this adventure.
Every child should experience the fun and adventure of CIMI Catalina Sea Camp, Toyon Bay.
The story below was shared by an Anonymous Camper…we hope you enjoy seeing camp through his eyes.
My instructor smiles and says “are you ready?” With a nod of my head, my instructor pushes on the back of my kayak, and I glide off shore and on to the ocean. We are headed for Whites Landing. I don’t know where it is but since the class I’m in is “Extreme Catalina,” I know its probably pretty far. Our goal is to kayak to Whites Landing and hike back. Since the hardest hike I have ever done was a trip with my parents to our local park, this will probably be the most difficult day ever!
For some, this is just another trip on the ocean, but for me its the first time on the ocean. Right now the ocean seems so flat and all I can see around me is my friends on kayaks and the ocean. I can’t even see California. It’s really easy to feel small out here. The best part is that this isn’t the only time I get to do this! I am here on Catalina for three weeks.
Kayaking is different than anything I have ever done. I have my own boat! I have my own paddle and I get to choose where to go. Our instructor taught us how to paddle and how to wear a life jacket and then just took us out on the ocean. We spend time looking for dolphins, whales, and even something called a Mola. My instructor tells me that this is a type of fish called an ocean sunfish and it spends the days deep in the ocean hunting jellyfish. After it has eaten, it heads to the surface to lay out and warm up. Birds will even land on them and remove parasites. Apparently they can get to be as big as a me!
About halfway there, we see splashes off in the distance and the splashes are heading our way. My counselor and instructor get really excited and tell us to paddle faster. My arms are so sore I can’t even imagine going faster until they yell “Dolphins!” I have never seen them up close and they are so fast. The first dolphin popped up just off my boat and surprised me. The second one went under my boat and I swear it looked right at me. I practically fell out of my boat trying to look at it. Soon at least a dozen swim by breathing and diving. It was so cool!
Hopefully this won’t be the last time I see dolphins this summer and this will not be the last time I come to camp. It was a moment that I will never forget.
We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. Catalina Sea Camp is a hands-on marine science program with an emphasis on ocean exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and ocean happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at minimum a Bachelors Degree in Marine Science or related subject. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science and ocean information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.catalinaseacamp.org for additional information. Happy Reading!