Posted by Michaela LeMay | 11.21.2023 | Marine Science, Sea Turtle Camp

A Week in the Life: Open Water Scuba Edition

Day 1: It’s Sunday afternoon and campers begin to arrive at our beautiful ocean-view accommodations, “The Shack,” in North Topsail Beach, NC. Sea Turtle Camp staff assist campers with getting settled into their new rooms for the next 6 days and then camp activities officially begin! We start with an orientation and “get to know you” activity. We follow up with a quick swim test for ocean safety. Dinner is in our full commercial kitchen, and it is always delicious! The night ends with a review of some SCUBA information and some family time, where we get to know each other. We end the night with a campfire and s’mores!

Day 2: Our first morning starts with a gear fitting with our dive crew! We receive all the equipment we will use for the week and learn to properly handle and care for it. We head back to the shack for lunch and then change to hit the beach. We play a sea turtle survivorship game before cooling off in the ocean. After catching some waves on a boogie board we head to do a squid dissection before we shower! We eat dinner and then spend the rest of the evening chatting about scuba and playing some games to bond as a group.

Day 3:  Today we are hanging at the pool all day. Since we e-learned most of our skills, we are putting them to the test with our instructors in the pool. We pause for a quick packed lunch and then learn some new things from our instructors before getting back in the pool to try them out, Tuesday evening is for Tie Dye! We end the night with a sea turtle nest patrol and a short night hike on the beach. We are sure to take our red flashlights just in case we see a sea turtle!

Day 4: After a very early wake-up, we head a few hours west to Fantasy Lake SCUBA Park to evaluate our skills. Fantasy Lake is a unique diving experience that we use to help everyone get more comfortable in the water before we head to the open ocean. The man-made lake has some cool things to explore underwater including 2 airplanes, a bus, a car, several boats, and much more. After a long drive and a long day diving, we usually see some sleepy campers on the way back to Topsail! We finish up the night with an informal marine science lesson and some downtime.

Day 5: It’s our last full day and it’s time to head to the open ocean! Today we get up early and head to the marina to meet our dive crew. Today we are heading about 14 miles offshore to explore the Dredge Wreck and Stone Tug shipwrecks. We finish up our final skills test and we are officially certified! Then we get to explore the wrecks and dive about 60 feet down! After our dives, we head back to Topsail and get showered. We finish up the afternoon with some beach activities and learn about sea turtle nesting temperatures. Dinner tonight is Luau style followed by a closing campfire and dance party!

Day 6: Our final morning is spent getting a tour of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital. We get to learn about all of the sea turtles that are being rehabilitated and getting ready to be released! We finish up at the hospital, exchange phone numbers and social media handles, and get ready to say our tearful goodbyes.