Residential Outdoor School

  • Grades 5–8
  • Three-day, two-night programs
  • 2 Locations with private beach access:
    • Camp St. Francis, Seascape/Aptos—can accommodate 100 participants
    • Monterey Bay Academy, Pajaro/Watsonville—can accommodate 39 participants
  • Meals: Camp SEA Lab provides well-balanced, nutritious, kid-friendly meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks during each full day of program. We make every effort to provide for students and teachers with special dietary needs (i.e. food allergies). Schools should bring sack lunches on the first day.
  • Hands-on inquiry-based activities that support NGSS standards—availability dependent on location, timing, tides, and teacher choice. See link below for detailed list
  • Cost: please call to find out current cost per student. Teachers and chaperones attend at a reduced rate.
  • Schools arrange transportation, chaperones (1 per ten students), teachers (1 teacher per 30 students), and sack lunches on the first day

What will students learn while at Camp SEA Lab?

While at Camp SEA Lab, residential outdoor school students will participate in a variety of lessons themed around science, education, and adventure. During their time at outdoor school, students will participate in a total of 6 lessons (4 daytime & 2 evening) that are selected by students' teachers. Each of our lessons has been aligned to address Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), California Environmental Principles and Concepts (EPCs), and NOAA's Ocean Literacy Standards. View possible activity options below:

  • Sand Crab Monitoring: After an introduction to scientific principles students practice asking questions, designing, and implementing a field experiment measuring sand crab populations, and analyzing their collected data.
  • Plankton & Food Chains: Students examine plankton samples collected from local marine habitats. They learn how to differentiate various types of plankton and explore the important role plankton plays in marine food webs. Students also build and compete in a STEM challenge to design a neutrally buoyant plankton model.
  • Kayaking the Slough: Students go on an off-site field trip to Moss Landing Harbor where they learn how to kayak while observing the wildlife of the Elkhorn Slough. As part of their adventure, students examine adaptations of various marine mammal and bird species that call the slough home and discuss conservation efforts in effect to protect these unique species.
  • Marine Debris: Students examine this marine issue by learning what marine debris is and the role it plays in the health of our ocean. After completing a beach cleanup, students analyze their findings and compare to worldwide marine debris data.
  • Watersheds: Students design a watershed model to explore the intricate connection between land and sea. While testing their models, students evaluate the simulated effects of various human impacts on their models and propose solutions to common issues threatening numerous California watersheds.
  • Ocean Currents: Students explore worldwide ocean currents, examine the effects of currents on the transportation of nutrients, animals, and debris around the world, use their observations to predict and test currents from the beach, and evaluate the interrelationship between currents and global weather patterns.
  • Ocean Acidification: Students are introduced to the role pH plays in the ocean and how it relates to ocean health. Students conduct an experiment to simulate the effect that adding carbon dioxide to the Earth’s atmosphere has on our world’s oceans. (7/8th grade recommended)
Learn field techniques used to monitor sand crab populations and collect data on local populations.
Learn field techniques used to monitor sand crab populations and collect data on local populations.
After learning about plankton, complete a STEM design challenge where they must create a plankton that is able to maintain neutral buoyancy.
After learning about plankton, complete a STEM design challenge where they must create a plankton that is able to maintain neutral buoyancy.
Work together and design a model watershed in the sand.
Work together and design a model watershed in the sand.

  • Beach Campfire: Students head down to the beach and close the evening with campfire songs & stories. This is a great way for students to enjoy some focused playtime and let their silly sides show while singing and dancing alongside their classmates.
  • Squid-Inside and Out: Student pairs explore the internal and external anatomy of the Market Squid (Loligo opalescens) during a hands-on, instructor-led dissection. A calamari tasting session will follow!
  • Into the Abyss (Deep SEA) - Students learn about deep-sea habitats, adaptations, and the techniques used to explore this relatively unknown world. A group game illustrates the challenge of finding food in the deep sea.
  • Sharks - Secrets Revealed (night hike) - Students will get to know some of the top predators in Monterey Bay by using their senses to explore the adaptations sharks possess that make them such effective survivors.
Explore the anatomy of a local Cephalopod - Loligo opalescens (CA market squid) in an evening dissection program.
Explore the anatomy of a local Cephalopod - Loligo opalescens (CA market squid) in an evening dissection program.

Where is Camp SEA Lab?

Camp SEA Lab offers residential programs at two beautiful coastal facilities:

  • Camp St. Francis is the larger of our two sites, accommodating a maximum of 100 students. It is located 15 miles south of Santa Cruz in the Aptos/Seascape area and offers a private and secluded 15-acre site with private beach access. The site also includes 5 single-gender dormitories, a large dining hall, a large classroom, and ample space for outdoor activities including a sporting field, volleyball court, and basketball court.
  • Monterey Bay Academy is the smaller of our two sites, accommodating a maximum of 39 participants. This 380-acre site is located 17 miles south of Santa Cruz, in the Pajaro/Watsonville area. The Academy offers a bunkhouse with rooms for boys and girls, as well as, a large dining hall, open playing field, a classroom equipped with marine aquaria, and private beach access.

Our residential programs have the option to take an offsite field trip to go kayaking in the Elkhorn Slough. Camp SEA Lab is proud to partner with Kayak Connection‑Moss Landing for all of our kayak tours. Each of our groups is assigned a Kayak Connection guide and all students are provided with life vests, splash gear, and a paddle lesson before getting on the water.

What will you need for Residential Outdoor School?

Prior to attending Camp SEA Lab's Residential Outdoor School program with your school/class, you will need to complete the forms sent home by your teacher. The forms include a health form, a liability waiver, and a kayak waiver (if your school is planning to kayak).

Coastal weather is highly unpredictable. We recommend bringing clothes that can be worn in layers. Activities will take place in sunshine or rain! We suggest labeling all items with your child's name. Italicized items are optional, though recommended.

  • Bag lunch for the 1st day of camp
  • Medications (Rx and OTC). Give to teachers before leaving school
  • Backpack (like you use at school, to hold extra layers and your water bottle during activities)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • sunscreen
  • Sleeping Bag & Pillow
  • Shower Towel
  • Toiletry Kit: comb/brush, shampoo, toothbrush & toothpaste, soap & deodorant
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Book (for quiet time)
  • Plastic bag for dirty clothes
  • Pajamas
  • 3 pairs of pants and shorts
  • 2 jackets or sweatshirts
  • rain jacket
  • 4 shirts
  • 4 pairs of underwear and socks
  • Pair of athletic shoes (sneakers)
  • Pair of closed-toe water shoes (or old sneakers that can get wet)
  • A pair of sandals with a heel strap

Food including candy and drinks, electronic items (ex: iPods, tablets, and cell phones), valuables (ex: jewelry and money), knives, and other weapons.