Participants in College of the Atlantic’s Family Nature Camp explore the Mount Desert Island by doing activities such as kayaking on the waters surrounding the island, above, and hiking Acadia’s mountains, below. PHOTO COURTESY OF LAURA JOHNSON

COA operates camps for kids, teens, families

BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic is offering camps this summer that help kids explore and learn about the “natural history, cultural richness [and] artistic potential” of Mount Desert Island.

The institute is holding three separate programs – the Family Nature Camp, Summer Field Institute and Summer Field Studies – each for different age groups.

The Family Nature Camp is for families to engage together and see the island while spending time with each other. The families live and dine at COA’s campus while going out to do activities such as bird-watching, hiking and wading in ponds and tide pools. They also get to go out on with Diver Ed to see marine life and spend time in the waters surrounding the island.



The camp runs for four separate weeks, with a week at the end of the session for returning families – those that have enrolled in the Family Nature Camp in previous years but wish to come back for new experiences.

“It’s for parents, grandparents and their children,” said Laura Johnson, director of summer programs at COA. “They are together for the week, they dine here … they stay for a week.”

The Summer Field Institute is for rising juniors and seniors in high school to take a class that is offered by COA and possibly receive credit if they enroll at COA after graduation. The camp “focuses on human ecology – the relationship between humans and our environments.”

This year, COA is offering two courses: The Wonder of Acadia, which was held in June, and Islands through Time, which begins on July 24 and runs through Aug. 5.

The Wonder of Acadia class focuses on the importance of national parks, centering on the benefits that Acadia brings to the people who visit it. According to the camp’s website, students work with “faculty in art, biology, geology, and law [and] will work with National Park Service professionals to expose [them] to various aspects of park management and day-to-day challenges of implementing the ‘national park idea.’”

The Islands through Time class teaches the participants about the “econology” and culture of Down East Maine by exploring the oceanography, marine biology, literature and writing, music and history of the area. Students will spend a couple of days exploring the islands off the coast of Maine, specifically Great Duck Island and Gotts Island, “experiencing firsthand the joys and challenges of marine field research,” the website states.

Finally, Summer Field Studies is for campers ages entering first-ninth grades and will focus on community and cooperation while also teaching them about the natural world. The groups will explore Mount Desert Island in four groups – first and seconds grades, third and fourth grades, fifth and sixth grades, and seventh through ninth grades – where each week will have a different topic of focus.

This week, campers in Summer Field Studies will take classes titled “Beachcombers,” “Deep Blue Sea,” “Wildlife Mysteries” and “For This & Future Generations: 100 Years of Acadia.”

That camp began in June and runs until Aug. 18.

Overall, Johnson said, these camps are supposed to be a conjunction of fun and adventure with the academic environment COA hopes to provide.

“COA’s really trying to put together a thoughtful program that embraces our location,” she said. “They’re fun, but they’re trying to continue our learning mission.”

Matt Mitterhoff

Matt Mitterhoff

Matt Mitterhoff

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