A dozen miles off the coast of Rockland is an island – and an opportunity. The Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership this summer will give dozens of youngsters hands-on scientific education in an off-the-grid, environmentally sustainable island community. But while science serves as a “lens” for teaching leadership, says Program Director Phoebe Jekielek, participants will also engage in traditional camp activities.
“We want kids to walk away saying ‘that was awesome,’” Jekielek says.
The center, operated by the non-profit Hurricane Island Foundation, will offer summer programming to both middle and high school students, and will reach kids from across the U.S. and as far away as China, Jekielek says. The center also offers school-year programming to many hundreds of students each academic year. Information about the programming is available at the center’s website, http://www.hurricaneisland.net/summer-programs/
The goal of the summer programming, she says, is to give participants “a way of seeing themselves as leaders, problem solvers, engagers. People that will engage with the kind of challenges we face in the natural world and in our human world.”
“We want them to walk away with the tools to ask questions, and to find people that will want to solve problems with them,” Jekielek says.
High school students can choose from four different program options. The center will offer a one-week island ecology program, a one-week marine biology program, a one-week sustainability leadership program, and a two-week advanced marine biology program. Each program accommodates a maximum of 12 students.
“With all of our high school programs we are very focused on students completing projects,” Jekielek says. All students give a community presentation at the conclusion of their program, she says.
For the second summer, the center will also offer a two-week program for Maine high school girls, known as “Women of the Sea.” The STEM-based marine biology and sailing program is a joint offering of the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership and the Boothbay Sea and Science Center. Participants will be divided into two groups of six each, and will enjoy one week of programming on the island and the other week on the Vela, a 50-foot gaff headed sloop. The full group will also spend two days together on the island for team building and leadership programming. Students will present their research findings at Bigelow Labs at the program’s end.
Jekielek says the center’s programming is geared toward “students that aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone,” by living off the grid — “a week of not being on social media, a week of really engaging with the world around you.”
The two-week marine biology program and Women of the Sea program might be particularly well-suited to students who are “testing the waters” for future field-based ecology study in college, Jekielek says.
The center will also offer summer programming to rising seventh and eighth graders, Jekielek says. Week-long island ecology and marine ecology programs will immerse students in the community, where they will spend time in the intertidal zone, among algae and seaweed, and will help scientists collect data.
“Our goal is to get students engaged in science, and the hands-on aspect of it,” Jekielek says. “We want to create a community around science and education.”
. The center’s programs also offer participants the chance to row gigs on Penobscot Bay, rappel quarry walls, swim in the chilly Atlantic, and make lifelong friendships unique to camp experiences.
Jekielek says financial assistance is available to help defray registration costs. In addition, early bird registration discounts will be applied through February.
All of the programs serve to provide participants with “a greater appreciation for the world around them,” Jekielek says. “We’re really getting students to think about their impact and how that ripples out to the world beyond.”