Summer Chaos… I mean Camp. Summer Camp!

This summer has been INCREDIBLY busy. Starting in June, work has been ground zero of one of the largest summer camps in the entire area. Each week for 11 weeks, between about 80 kids ranging in age from 4 years old to 18 years old descend upon the aquarium en masse. It’s 11 weeks of pure chaos. Chaos filled with laughter. Chaos filled with delighted shrieks. Chaos filled with running, sticky fingers, craft glue, crayons, and goldfish crackers EVERYWHERE. Seriously, how do those little crackers end up in every possible carpet and corner???? It’s a real scientific mystery! But it’s also chaos filled with intense education. It’s exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally for us run 7 different age groups worth of activities for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. I and the whole education team are drained every single day.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

All those young minds bursting with excitement, eager to learn and experience. All those minds forming memories that will last a life time! It’s such a privilege to provide them these opportunities (it’s also mildly terrifying when I think of the responsibility!) But despite my constant fatigue, knowing that I and my coworkers are making a difference in all of these lives keep my feet pounding the pavement each day. Knowing that there are delighted smiles and little hands to tug on mine (to tell me all about sting rays they just pet of course) waiting for me at work gets me up in the morning.

All of the surrounding chaos has made me reflect on the experience, and reminds me of a poem I wrote about my thesis work last year. It’s all a nice reminder of why I do what I do.

(Pictured is a few 2nd and 3rd grade campers ‘dancing’ with our dolphins. They covered hula hoops with streamers and waved them at the under water view window for the dolphins to see and interact with. It’s really cute to see!)

Be lady like,

Be calm,

Be quiet!

Stay inside,

Stay clean,

Stay in line!

Don’t wander,

Don’t touch,

Don’t question!

 

Voices telling me what I should do,

What I should say,

Who I should be.

But I didn’t listen to their voices.

I listened to my own voice.

I am who I want to be.

I am a seeker of knowledge,

A protector of the environment,

A constantly evolving marine biologist.

 

But most of all I am an advocate.

I would have given anything for one single voice that said ‘YOU CAN.’

So now I help others find their inner voice when they think they have none.

When others’ voices are so loud they cannot hear their own.

I help them find that quiet voice that says –

Be you,

Be adventurous,

Be bold!

Go outside,

Go get dirty,

Go exploring!

Do observations,

Do investigations,

Do question!

 

Above all, a voice that says YOU CAN.

 

You CAN go to college,

You CAN study STEM,

You CAN gain cutting edge skills,

You CAN be the next generation of leaders,

You CAN become a scientist.

 

YOU can save the world.

 

~ Katie Dion

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