June 29, 2006 – Space is still available at the V.I. Environmental Resource Station eco-camps, VIERS Administrator Randy Brown said Thursday. The camps run for three days and two nights at Lameshur Bay, St. John.
Brown said an increase in funding means that the camps can now handle a total of 150 campers over the summer instead of the usual 100 that attended in previous years.
The camps are free to V.I. residents, but campers are asked to pay a $30 refundable registration fee, which is then returned when the camp concludes. The charge for campers who are not V.I. residents is $250.
Students ages eight to 12 are eligible for camps that run July 14 through 16, July 17 through 19, July 21 through 23, July 24 through 26, and Aug. 3 through 5.
A science-based ecology camp for 13- to 16-year-olds will be held July 11 through 13.
Space is limited to 30 campers per session. Parents are welcome to participate if space is available.
Camp curriculum is based on the book, "Island Peek to Coral Reef: A Field Guide to the Plant and Marine Communities of the Virgin Islands," written by Toni Thomas and Barry Devine from the University of the Virgin Islands.
Campers will participate in interactive, hands-on activities such as hiking, swimming, snorkeling, eco-art, and fun environmental learning activities. Trained counselors direct activities.
"It's a pretty unique experience. They drive by nature all the time, but don't get to actually be in and live it," Brown said. And, he said it was a good way to make new friends.
The camps are sponsored by Friends of V.I. National Park.
"This is a great opportunity for local youth to spend three days immersed in nature, away from daily routine and electronic distractions," Friends development director Karen Brady said.
In addition to the Friends groups, sponsors include Disney Cruise Line, FirstBank, Lana Vento Charitable Trust, Prosser ICC Foundation and Rotary Club of St. John.
Camps 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 V.I. residency and $30 registration fee must be received prior to acceptance into the program. Each camper must provide proof — such as a copy of a report card or school identification — that they are a current resident of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For registration information, call VIERS Environmental Education Coordinator Katie Hotchkiss at 776-6721 or e-mail VIERS for an information packet.
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