Want to hold a snake and touch an alligator? Want to watch mother and baby dolphins play in the surf of your boat? Want to catch crabs, learn to use a compass, see bald eagles and play in a tidal pool? These are all things that the 5th grade at Sumner Academy experienced at Barrier Island Environmental Camp in mid-September.
A 20 plus year tradition, the 5th grade travels to Barrier Island on St. John’s Island south of Charleston, SC. There the students spend 2 ½ days learning about the sea, the estuary, tidal marshes, reptiles and many more things.
Monday the students enjoyed a dolphin tour of the estuary and rivers that join it. The students and parents kept an eye out for dolphins and saw an eagle nest the size of a Volkswagen car. Later on the beach, the eagles flew over fishing to feed their babies.
Using the beach as a classroom, the naturalist led the students in the study of ocean life. Students were able to use the seining nets and catch and identify ocean animals. We caught the same crab 3 times; it never learned to move on.
The favorite class is Lets Sea, a long walk down the beach exploring erosion, the role of sea grass and dunes and finally a walk through the tidal marsh to a tidal pool known as the Mud Pit. Arriving at low tide, the pool was full of shells and small crabs and MUD. We all had a blast rolling and playing in the mud.
Another favorite class is It Skinks, a study of local reptiles where we got to touch sea turtle shells and compare them to live tortoises and terrapins. Students held a corn snake and Mrs. Cude and Mrs. Malone held the green rat snake and corn snake through the entire class. Everyone got to touch the alligator.
Time passes so quickly at the beach and we hardly realized how much we had learned or experienced - Using a compass, finding treasures, learning about tracks, watching shrimp boats light up like Christmas in the night. This is truly a trip students never forget.