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V.I. Youth Offered Free Eco-Camps on St. John

June 2, 2006 – Virgin Islands youth are being offered an opportunity to participate in ecological camps this summer, free of charge, at the University of Virgin Islands Environment Resource Station (VIERS) in the National Park on St. John.
The three-day Summer Eco-Camps focus on coastal ecology. Through hands-on activities and lessons, campers will explore a variety of eco-systems on the island.
"This is a great opportunity for local youth to spend three days immersed in nature, away from daily routine and electronic distractions," said Karen Brady, Friends of V.I. National Park development director. Along with Friends, sponsors of the Clean Islands International Eco-Camps include Disney Cruise Line, First Bank, Lana Vento Charitable Trust, Prosser ICC Foundation and Rotary Club St. John.
This summer, camp curriculum has been developed based on a new publication by Toni Thomas and Dr. Barry Devine from UVI titled "Island Peek to Coral Reef: A Field Guide to the Plant and Marine Communities of the Virgin Islands."
In addition to learning about eco-systems, there will be hiking, swimming, snorkeling, eco-art and fun environmental learning activities. Trained counselors and educators strongly emphasize the preservation of the natural and cultural resources that are found in the Virgin Islands.
Space is limited to 30 students per camp, but six camps will be held throughout the summer. Parents are welcome to join their children if space is available.
The camps are offered to V.I. residents at no charge and include lodging, meals, snacks, bottled water, a copy of "Island Peak to Coral Reef," a camp T-shirt and transportation from Red Hook or Cruz Bay.
Eco-campers will meet at the Red Hook Ferry Dock or Cruz Bay Ferry Dock at 9 a.m. on the first day and be returned to the same location on the third day by 5:20 p.m.
The registration form, proof of U.S. Virgin Islands residency and a refundable $30 registration fee (refundable upon completion of the camp) must be received prior to acceptance into the program.
Each camper must provide a copy of some type of proof that he or she is a current resident of the Virgin Islands (such as report card or school ID). The cost for nonresidents is $250.
A science-based ecology camp for 13- to 16-year-olds is July 11-13.
Camps for students 8 to 12 are offered July 14-16; July 17-19; July 21-23; July 24-26; and August 3-5.
For registration information, please call Katie Hotchkiss, VIERS Environmental education coordinator, at 776-6721 or e-mail viers@islands.vi for an information packet.

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