Posted by: Doc Bruce | July 17, 2008

Survivor Week at Sanibel Sea School

At the urging of a few moms and more than a few kids, Sanibel Sea School offered a week for older kids last week. Themed “Survival Week” this camp offered plenty of opportunity for education that was seriously experiential. If you haven’t tried to build a fire lately with a strike and spark fire starter, you haven’t delved into the depths of your own patience the way these kids did. And they prevailed! In fact, they’re downright good at it. Specifically, you would not want to challenge Marvel Bradley to a fire making duel. It would be humiliating for you. And if you were to find yourself on a desert island a la Tom Hanks, you’d want Jennings Ventura tying the knots on your raft and Abby Neill and Kyle Johnson paddling it.

This was a spectacular week for Sanibel Sea School that culminated in a real adventure overnight to Cayo Costa. What happens in Cayo Costa stays in Cayo Costa, I’d like to say. But by now half the island probably knows the boat with the gear broke down, the lunches were insanely late. The vicious no-see-ums drove some to madness – a study in pre-air conditioning torture. There was a flashlight-lit talent show the highlight of which was singing chins, and there were some epic snorers. Oh and if you didn’t already know this, Jim Burns is without a doubt the most patient and kind man in the world.

We do have to single out and thank Brandon Marino. Here’s a guy who met our staff playing volleyball and took time off work to volunteer for us. On day one, he tore his calf muscle in the surf paddling race and ended that day on crutches. Like the Monty Python Knight, he came back the second day to drive his boat with our gear. It broke down around Tarpon Bay. When Sea Tow arrived hours later, he discovered his membership hadn’t been renewed in time and he had to pay a super duper premium. We salute his sacrifice for Sanibel Sea School. It was heroic and it’ll make a darn good story one day if he’s in the mood to tell it. We also have to thank James Figuerado and Tajana Pettinato who came to the rescue at the drop of a hat with a boat and a great attitude.
As for Survivor Week help, special thanks go to the Sanibel Fishing Club and the Kiwannis club for summer camp scholarships. Thanks to Kyle Sweet and Jim Gould for giving us big bamboo for our rafts. Thanks to the Island Cow for delicious hot muffins in the mornings and great camping food. Thanks to Mark and Heidi Marinello for lots of great camping supplies from Bass Pro including those handy dandy fire starters. Thanks to Beth Hight for a cake that tasted like it was made by the gods. Thanks to the staff for going way over and beyond a forty-hour week. Thanks to parents who entrusted us with their wonderful kids. We really enjoyed them and they surprised us.

I was having a chat with a few of the girls about grown ups who get a little tired of kids. And I said, “Well, hey, I probably yell at you sometimes too.” To which Maddie Weigel responded, “yeah, but we can tell you like us.” Yeah. We really, really do. These kids were great survivors. What do they call that? Prevailers?

This week we are Calusans and we have a serious game planned in inland territories (with plenty of nice Calusan bug spray.) Sanibel Sea School is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 dedicated to marine conservation through experiential education.

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