Newport Beach, CA: FiiN, Fostering Interest in Nature kicked off Tuesday, February 19 and will run through Friday, April 19. The program started as a collaboration between the City of Newport Beach and the California Coastal Commission to honor Coastal Act, which requires that lower-cost visitor and recreational facilities shall be protected, encouraged, and, where feasible, provided. With Lido House being built on the former City Hall site, FiiN emerged as a program to combine the City’s recreation and environmental traditions with the provision of lower-cost opportunities. FiiN is an innovative way to provide access for children to learn about the environment, hike, kayak and enjoy one of the state’s only natural estuaries in Southern California. The participant schools were selected from Santa Ana and Newport Mesa districts.
This free, overnight nature camp includes 4 days and 3 nights at the Newport Dunes. The goal for Newport Bay Conservancy is to provide students with an opportunity to explore the coastal areas of Newport Beach, and develop an appreciation of ecology and nature based recreation. Camp activities promote an understanding of ecological principles, conservation, marine science, biology, and water safety appropriate for 5th grade students, based on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
After settling into tents, students are given the basics of camp safety, and water safety taught by Newport Beach’s own Lifeguards. Discussions on the basics about water, marine life, and watersheds will be enhanced by a stop at the Back Bay Science Center (BBSC). Nature journaling exercises are sprinkled throughout the week so that students will be able to make observations and take them home to share with their families and friends.
Planned hikes around the Bay focus on different species of plants, both invasive and non-invasive types. Students will be able to get their hands dirty at the BBSC Nursery, propagating native plants for future restoration activities.
In a special harbor tour sponsored by Fun Zone Boat Company, students try their skill on knot tying, mapping sea level rise and spotting marine mammals. Students also spend an afternoon kayaking, orienteering and building the strongest sand castle to withstand the force of water.
Nature at Night activities include discussions about nocturnal animals and constellations. Of course, what camp would not be complete without nighttime activities of skits and songs around a campfire organized with program partner, Camp James. The week will culminate with Conservation Poster Projects and closing award ceremony.