07 Aug Longwood Middle School Summer Camp: Fire Island Adventures!
As part of the EveryKid In A Park Initiative, Fire Island National Seashore has been reaching out to local school groups, camps and scout programs to extend an open welcome, as well as encourage patronage to the many National Park Service sites on Fire Island. One of these school groups is a summer camp located at Longwood Middle School that caters to children from 1st grade to 6th grade, and offers a wide variety of activities catered to each student’s needs. As the Latino Heritage Intern for Fire Island, it seemed quite fitting for me to participate, especially with the newly immigrated students, many of whom happen to be from Latino countries. In order for these newcomers to prepare for their trip to the Wilderness Visitors Center on Fire Island National Seashore, Supervisory Park Ranger Irene Cowan-Rosen and myself attended Longwood Middle School to give a short orientation to Fire Island and the National Parks Service. The orientation consisted of a small powerpoint, some small shells and skeletons of organisms native to Fire Island, as well as an interactive shipwreck rescue display that encompassed the maritime history at this historic barrier island. In this short time, the students were able to gain a small amount of background information about some of the things they would see during their trip, as well as be aware of the importance of preserving and protecting these lands. The students were given the opportunity to ask questions, express concerns, as well as participate in some of the orientation activities, such as a maritime history of the shipwrecks; A few students were dressed up in some of the traditional outfits of men and women who assisted in some of the early shipwreck rescue attempts, including members of the United States Life Saving Service. The following day, the students arrived at the Wilderness Visitors Center for a presentation on some of the items they may find while beachcombing along the shore, including shells, skeletons and egg cases. After the presentation, they even got to go out along the beach with one of the Park Rangers, Ranger Steve, and collect some of their own marine treasures. While some of the children had been fortunate enough to visit some of the sites on Fire Island or even other coastal beaches, a majority of this group has never been to a beach at all, or even really knew anything about Fire Island. Being able to be a part of these students’ first beach or Fire Island experience was incredibly rewarding, as now we all have created some amazing Fire Island memories together!