Environmental Learning Center gears up for summer camps

WABASSO — Now that class is officially dismissed throughout the county, parents are scrambling to find ways to head off the “I’m so bored” complaints of idle kids. The Environmental Learning Center on Wabasso Island has the perfect indoor-outdoor solution.Camps at the ELC begin today and run throughout the summer. The ELC has built an attractive offering of summer camps over the years and now that all of its buildings are up and running after post-fire construction and renovation, this year’s camps are no exception. Day camps and special excursions are available for children ages 4 and older on the ELC’s 64-acre campus. The ELC is a beautiful, diverse, and ecologically authentic place. It’s diverse because it ranges from hammock on high ground to salt marshes, which are sometimes under water to mangrove forest.Half-day camps from 8:30 a.m. to noon are starting up throughout June and July for the younger kids.

The Little Wonders camp for children entering Pre-K or kindergarten (at least 4 years old) focuses on discovering nature and learning about fish, plants and insects through activities, stories and crafts. The cost is $60 per child and there are five different four-day sessions beginning on June 14, June 21, July 5, July 12 and July 26.

During the Young Explorers day camp for children entering first grade, campers venture out to explore the natural areas of the ELC’s island campus to seek out the native plants and indigenous animals of the area in their natural habitat. The cost is $60 per child and sessions begin June 21, June 28 and July 12.

Children entering the second and third grade can sign up for Our Living World camp, which tackles a study of the world from the sun down to the animals and plants. The cost is $60 per child and sessions start June 14, June 28, July 12 and July 19.

Full-day camps from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. are offered to entertain and educate kids entering 4th through 12th grade.

The Island Adventure camp for students entering 4th or 5th grade consists of three days of exploration of the barrier island and islands of the Indian River Lagoon while canoeing, hiking, biking, beachcombing, seining and boating. The cost for this camp is $125 per child and sessions begin June 14, June 30, July 5 and July 19.

The Marine Safari camp for students entering the 6th or 7th grades takes in elements of the Island Adventure camp above, adding snorkeling to the mix. The cost is $115 per student, with sessions beginning June 21 and July 7.

Even older kids can spend a week at the ELC this summer in the Wild Waters camp for students entering the 8th through 12th grades. This five-day camp starting on Sunday and ending at noon Thursday includes four nights of eco-adventure, boating, kayaking and camping. The cost is $475 per teenager with the next session beginning on July 11.

There are limited scholarships available, made possible through the generosity of the John’s Island Garden Club and the Garden Group of John’s Island. Discounts of $5 to $10 per child per camp are given to paid members of the Environmental Learning Center.

The ELC also has a variety of nature activities for adults and for families who want to visit for a few hours but not attend a camp.Though admission to the center is free, tours, lectures, pontoon boat rides, sleep-overs and canoe trips are available for a fee.

For more information about summer camps, go to www.discoverelc.org or call (772) 589-5050.

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