Little Cayman – The future of the coral reefs will ultimately depend on the positive attitude of the youth of the Islands and their knowledge of current issues and trends in the management of these ecosystems. The Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s Sea Camp emphasized these principles in its 3rd annual Sea Camp that concluded on August 18, 2002 in Little Cayman.
The participants worked through a rigorous experiential (hands-on) learning experience that aims to:
- develop leadership skills,
- increase pride in their islands,
- improve technology skills,
- build confidence through increased knowledge in science and mathematics,
- develop critical thinking skills,
- increase the awareness of the importance of the island’s coral reefs,
- provide mentorship for youths who have had little contact with successful college students and scientists,
- improve the students influence in their community, and
- provide positive role models for peers.
The activities and curriculum of the Summer Sea Camp Program address the goals of major global initiatives to promote conservation efforts toward the long-term sustainable use of coral reef ecosystems. Youth in most Caribbean communities have limited opportunities to be actively involved as leaders in community events, and marine conservation activities for youth are rare.
This is true of most Caribbean islands, though some have programs for children that have been enormously successful. CCMI’s program pairs youngsters with excellent role models who served as mentors and who will potentially motivate the summer students to pursue an active role in community outreach activities that will teach about the exotic and myriad marine resources in the Caribbean.
Marine Science Educator and underwater photographer Shirley Brown, Scientist John Bothwell (Cayman Islands Department of Environment), PHD student Marilyn Brandt (University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science), & Associate Professor of Oceanography & Geology Carrie Manfrino (Kean University), and Youth Mentor Gianna Esteban (high school student from John Gray High School and returning Sea Camp student) engaged in a 2-week program that taught the students fundamental coral reef ecology curriculum.
Manfrino and her students have developed a core curriculum through a text called: Coral Reef Conservation and Monitoring for Youths: A field guide book for K-12 teachers and students grade 8 — 13. Her students, Marilyn Brandt (now working on her PHD at University of Miami), and Alexander Soranno (graduate of Rutgers University, Institute of Marine and Coastal Science and one of the Summer’s interns at CCMI) have written chapters on the Importance of coral reefs, problems facing coral reefs, Cayman Islands Environments, Coral Reef Biology, Ecology & Conservation, and Marine Resource Monitoring.
The Sea Camp program teaches young students to analyze and explore the marine environment thereby improving their knowledge base and critical thinking skills. Their increased knowledge and technological skills provides the self-confidence they need to be empowered to promote the importance of conserving coral reefs. The participants were involved in hands-on learning activities that are scientifically oriented and that improve the competitiveness of the island’s youth, especially in college acceptance.
The program is working to develop long-term, positive attitudes about marine conservation because the future of the coral reefs on many Caribbean Islands will ultimately depend on the attitude of the youth of the Islands and their knowledge of current issues and trends in the management of these ecosystems.
The 2003 program and schedule will be announced shortly once all logistical details can be worked out. For more details, go to http://www.reefresearch.org