My Journey to Catalina Sea Camp

How CIMI and it’s Catalina Sea Camp Changed My Life

By McKenzie Weaver

I was not an ambitious young girl. I wasn’t popular at my school. In fact, I dreaded school. My classes bored me which helped dull the little passion I had for my academics. I accepted that being smart was not “my thing.” This all changed because of CIMI.

I first came to CIMI for a high school weekend field trip when I was thirteen. A friend asked me to join them on a field trip that took place on Catalina Island. I didn’t expect much considering it was technically still school but since it got me out of attending classes on a Friday I agreed to come along. I was so surprised to realize . . . I HAD SO MUCH FUN! I still remember timing our play doe plankton models, eating Oreos on nature hikes, and my first encounter with bioluminescence on a night snorkel! I still remember my instructor Phoebe. She was so cool and funny. This was the first time in my life where someone was actually engaging me with my learning. She pushed me academically and inspired my love of science. As it turned out, I was smart! And it felt so empowering to realize that about myself. When I returned from CIMI, my outlook of school had altered. No longer was I bored in classes, I strived to be my best. I took a marine biology class and fell in love with the mysterious habitats of the deep and the funny creatures that inhabited them. I returned to Catalina for more science-packed field trips throughout my high school career and even went on to found my school’s National Ocean Science Bowl academic decathlon team. With each competition and field trip, I knew that one day I would want to work at CIMI.

After graduating high school I went on to study marine biology for my undergraduate. I later got involved in my university’s scientific research diving minor. I received an email one day that CIMI and it’s Catalina Sea Camp were looking to hire dive staff and was immediately excited. “Could this be the same CIMI that got me here today?” I couldn’t wait to apply. Ten years after my first visit to Toyon Bay I was hired on CIMI’s dive staff and an instructor for the summer at Catalina Sea Camp. This is my favorite job and I love passing on the wonder of the ocean to the next generation.

Come dive with me!

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