Heritage Junior High 'Catalina Island Science Camp'
Before sunrise on Labor Day, students began gathering at Heritage Junior High School for the annual 8th grade trip to Catalina. Parents helped them check their gear, exchanged hugs and said their goodbyes. A team of intrepid teachers and chaperones took a final roll call, then climbed aboard the buses and the bus doors closed. The annual Heritage Junior High School Catalina Island Science Camp had begun. Four buses took the 8th graders to San Pedro where they boarded the Enhydra, the 120', three-deck floating classroom, which would ferry them to Camp Emerald Bay on Catalina Island for five days and four nights of marine science adventure.
Students were mixed up into breakout groups and they went through a non-stop curriculum of marine science adventure. In the sea, they snorkeled through fish and kelp exploration labs and even had a night-time snorkel to observe plankton bioluminescence and the crustaceans that are active at night. Students kayaked to observe the local ocean birds and their nests on the rocks and cliff sides. On land, students observed plankton life under microscopes in classrooms, invertebrates in encounter tanks, and learned about the detrimental impact of plastic pollution in the oceans and ways to help conserve the valuable resource that is America's Pacific coastline, both on land and at sea. Students ate three big meals per day in a large dining hall, slept in cabins, and each day made new friendships, and broke through apprehensions they may have had about the ocean, being at camp, stepping outside their familiar Escondido comfort zones.
On Friday, students cleaned up their cabins and packed for the journey home. There was a final kayak relay race, then they boarded the Enhydra for San Pedro. There, they boarded four bright yellow school buses for the journey back to Heritage Junior High School. Parents were waiting with big smiles to receive them. This had been a fantastic field trip and science camp experience, an annual experience offered to the 8th grade students of Heritage Junior High School and Heritage FLEX Academy.