top of page

Marine Science Beach Camps

The MERITO Foundation’s Marine Science Beach Camps is a program that engages children in hands-on ocean science and stewardship activities. We were able to provide much needed outdoor science education to children 8 to 12 years old during COVID-19 pandemic.

Summer 2021 Beach Camps Have Ended!

For three weeks, children from Ventura County participated in our Marine Science Beach camps held at San Buenaventura State Beach! The participating children had a lot of fun exploring tide pools, identifying birds, counting and measuring sand crabs, learning about marine invertebrates and the Chumash people, painting marine art, discovering wetlands, and participating in beach profiling,  thanks to our expert friends from Ventura U.S Fish and Wildlife Office. They also learned about fish, how to fish, and how to release them unharmed from our special guest Kevin from Reel Guppy Outdoors. An optional trip was taken to Santa Cruz Island where children hiked and learned of the Channel Islands National Park, and also got to snorkel.  

Tidepool Anenome
Hiking on SCI
Learning to Fish with Reel Guppy Outdoors
Kalorama Restoration
Learning Native Snakes
Planting Native Plants
Sand Crab Monitoring
Reel Guppy Catch and Release
How Big is your Species?
Water Quality Testing
Beach Cleanup 2
Kelp Forest
Viewing Plankton Through Microscope
Beach Profiling
Painting Marine Habitat
After Snorkeling and Seeing Schools of Fish!
Verde the Native Pond Turtle
Jump If You're Having Fun!

Previous Weeks

July 12 -
July 16

  • Times:  9:00 am – 1:00 pm, 3 days/week (M, W, F)

  • Location: At Southern Buenaventura State Beach by the Kalorama Wetland, south of the Ventura pier (see map below)

  • Ages: 8 to 12 years of age

  • Cost: $200/week per child

The Life of Plankton

Children got to experience being a marine scientist for the week by learning about the life of plankton, designing their own plankton species, creating their own plankton net, collecting and identifying plankton using scientific equipment like a microscope. They also learned about the types of plankton found locally in our Santa Barbara Channel!

July 19 -
July 23

Bird Watching.jpg
  • Times:  9:00 am – 1:00 pm, 3 days/week (M. W, F)

  • Location: At Southern Buenaventura State Beach by the Kalorama Wetland, south of the Ventura pier (see map below)

  • Ages: 8 to 12 years of age

  • Cost: $200/week per child

Bills and Whales

This week, children got to be ornithologists (bird biologists) and learn the local bird species we can find on our beaches, and also got to view and identify them through binoculars! They participated in activities to understand why birds have different body parts such as bills, feather colors, and legs. Children switched up and became marine mammalogists (those who study marine mammals) to learn about the whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions that live or pass through our coast and the Channel Islands, such as blue whales!

August 2 -
August 6

  • Times:  9:00 am – 1:00 pm, 3 days/week (M, W, F)

  • Location: At Southern Buenaventura State Beach by the Kalorama Wetland, south of the Ventura pier (see map below)

  • Ages: 8 to 12 years of age

  • Cost: $200/week per child, optional $60 trip to Santa Cruz Island

Watershed to Oceans


Children learned about the connections between our watersheds and our ocean this week, and the impacts of urban runoff and plastic pollution on our local environment and human health through activities and demonstrations such as bug detectives, water quality testing, beach clean-ups, and trash traits. They also learned to identify and the importance of native plants by being a botanist and getting their hands dirty doing field planting and weeding invasive plants!

What will your child learn and do during our Marine Science Program?

Children will learn and experience a variety of marine science concepts, what some of the issues our ocean face are and what can children and families do to prevent them.  Children will also have time to explore the coastal environment and play with ocean-themed games. They will be introduced to scientific monitoring, and marine-themed art and poetry all while respecting social distancing. A detailed itinerary for each week will be sent to parents 5 days before the Beach Camps starts. Apart from the activities we have planned for the week, we will dedicate one day a week to planting, weeding, and restoring to keep our outdoor classroom healthy and biodiverse.

Who are our instructors and what materials and equipment will they use?

Our instructors have college and/or masters degrees in ocean or environmental sciences, and years of experience in outdoor education. They are all physically fit, First Aid/CPR certified, passionate about the ocean and our natural environments, love children, our beaches, and are bilingual. We occasionally have expert guest presenters to speak about specific topics such as the geology of our beaches, sharks and rays, marine art, or the native plants.

The content and activities we teach are taken from MERITO Foundation’s registered science curriculum aligned to the State of California Next Generation of Science Standards Framework, Common Core Standards, Environmental, Climate and Ocean Literacy Principles. The activities are hands-on, appropriate to age level, and tailored to the Ventura and Santa Barbara counties marine and coastal environments. We will supply all the necessary science equipment such as quadrants for surveying marine invertebrates or plants, plankton collection nets, microscopes, binoculars, buckets, cylinders, globes, trowels, data-sheets, and clipboards.

Where do the Marine Science Camps take place?

At Southern Buenaventura State Beach, East of Ventura Pier by Kalorama Wetland. The Kalorama Wetland is at the bottom of the watershed which used to be a site of significance for Chumash people before Harbor Boulevard and Highway 101 were built. The site stands out for its willow trees and abundant vegetation. Student participants of our Marine Science Camps of Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 helped restore almost an acre of this land by removing invasive non-native plant species that have been taking over the site, and planting over 200 native plants. The summer 2021 campers assisted with watering and tending for these plants.

Find us at the San Buenaventura State Beach by the parking area at 853 E. Harbor Blvd. Parking, Ventura Ca 93001.

In partnership with California State Parks- Channel Coast District
CAStateParks logo.png

With a degree of certainty, we now know that the risk of contracting coronavirus diminishes outside and that children learn more science, care more for their environment and are happier when learning outside.

​Safety & precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 virus​

  • Small groups of maximum 6 students/station (the number of stations will depend on the # of participants)

  • Students will stay active participating in hands-on activities (detailed below)

  • Stay safe maintaining a physical distance of 6 feet or more between students and staff. Physical contact is strictly prohibited except in case of emergency and trauma.

  • Cleanliness: MERITO Foundation will provide hand soap/sanitizer, gloves, and disinfect all equipment every rotation/activity.

  • Stay Covered: All students and instructors will wear face coverings when cannot maintain a safe 6-foot distance from others

  • All participants must bring their own water bottle, snacks, lunch, sunscreen, and importantly a face mask.

  • Parents and guardians will sign a COVID-19 specific waiver.

  • Disclaimer: An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. By attending MERITO Foundation's Marine Science School Program, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.

If you have further questions, please email us at


Benefits of Environmental Outdoor Education

Environmental education programs in informal settings increase content knowledge and skills (1), including understanding how human actions contribute to environmental issues and sustainability. This learning may be magnified when outdoors because youth learn quickly and demonstrate better attention and longer retention of skills when learning takes place in outdoor environments (2). Moreover, youth who participate in residential outdoor science programs show positive short-term as well as long-term gains in their attitudes toward school (3); toward their own connection to nature (4); and toward the environment (5). 


Exposure to nature through these programs enhances learner’s cognitive functioning, self-discipline, and character development (6). In addition, numerous physical and mental health benefits accrue from spending time in the outdoors, such as reduced stress and loneliness, and increased physical activity and resilience (7). In fact, certain medical professionals have spoken out against the closure of outdoor spaces during the present public health crisis because of their innumerable health benefits (8). Furthermore, environmental and outdoor science education programs have been shown to have direct impacts on the environment, with documented ecological indicators such as improved water and air quality, and even increased biodiversity.



Ardoin, N. M., Bowers, A. W., & Gaillard, E. (2020). Environmental education outcomes for conservation: A systematic review. Biological Conservation, 241,;

Ardoin, N. M., Bowers, A. W., Roth, N. W., & Holthuis, N. (2018) Environmental education and K-12 student outcomes: A review and analysis of research. The Journal of Environmental Education, 49:1, 1-17. DOI: 10.1080/00958964.2017.1366155; Powell, R. B., Stern, M. J., Frensley, B. T., & Moore, D. (2019). Identifying and developing crosscutting environmental education outcomes for adolescents in the twenty-first century (EE21). Environmental Education Research, 25(9), 1281-1299; Stern, M. J., Powell, R. B., & Hill, D. (2014). Environmental education program evaluation in the new millennium: What do we measure and what have we learned? Environmental Education Research, 20(5), 581-611; Thomas, R. E., Teel, T., Bruyere, B., & Laurence, S. (2019). Metrics and outcomes of conservation education: A quarter century of lessons learned. Environmental Education Research, 25(2), 172-192.


 2  Merritt, R. D. (2018). Environmental Education. In EBSCO Discovery Research Starters (online). Retrieved from

 3  Stern, M. J., Powell, R. B., & Ardoin, N. M. (2008). What difference does it make? Assessing outcomes from participation in a residential environmental education program. The Journal of Environmental Education, 39(4), 31-43.

4 Mullenbach, L. E., Andrejewski, R. G., & Mowen, A. J. (2019). Connecting children to nature through residential outdoor environmental education. Environmental Education Research, 25(3), 365-374.

5 Beery, T., & Jørgensen, K. A. (2018). Children in nature: Sensory engagement and the experience of biodiversity. Environmental Education Research, 24(1), 13-25; Dillon, J., Rickinson, M., Teamey, K., Morris, M., Choi, M. Y., Sanders, D., & Benefield, P. (2006). The value of outdoor learning: Evidence from research in the UK and elsewhere. School Science Review, 87(320), 107; Johnson, B., & Manoli, C. C. (2010). The

2-MEV scale in the United States: A measure of children’s environmental attitudes based on the theory of ecological attitude. The Journal of Environmental Education, 42(2), 84-97.

6 Becker, C., Lauterbach, G., Spengler, S., Dettweiler, U., & Mess, F. (2017). Effects of regular classes in outdoor education settings: A systematic review on students’ learning, social and health dimensions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(5), 485; Dale, R. G., Powell, R. B., Stern, M. J., & Garst, B. A. (2020). Influence of the natural setting on environmental education outcomes. Environmental Education Research, 1-19; Kuo, M., Barnes, M., & Jordan, C. (2019). Do experiences with nature promote learning? Converging evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 305.

7 Bowler, D. E., Buyung-Ali, L. M., Knight, T. M., & Pullin, A. S. (2010). A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments. BMC Public Health, 10(1), 456; Razani, N., Meade, K., Schudel, C., Johnson, C., & Long, D. (2015). Healing through nature: A park-based health intervention for young people in Oakland, California. Children, Youth and Environments, 25(1): 147-159. DOI: 10.7721/chilyoutenvi.25.1.0147; Thomsen, J. M., Powell, R. B., & Monz, C. (2018). A systematic review of the physical and mental health benefits of wildland recreation. Journal of Park & Recreation Administration, 36(1).

8 Razani, N., Radhakrishna, R., & Chan, C. (2020). Public lands are essential to public health during a pandemic. Pediatrics. Pre-print accessed May 21, 2020. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2020-1271.

bottom of page