Spotlight on education -- summer spotlight

Suzie Harrison

Summertime drums up the connotation of play, leisure, vacations and

summer camp.

The beauty of the world of camp is that there’s a theme for just about


everything and everyone: from band camp to science camp and everything in

between. There’s even sea lion camp -- otherwise known as Camp Pinniped.

Camp Pinniped is an exciting camp for kids, ages 8 to 12, in Laguna

Beach at the Friends of the Sea Lion Marine Mammal Center.


The Center is an active rescue/treatment/rehabilitation facility for

seals and sea lions, which in the taxonomy scheme of things fall into the

pinniped group. The name was derived because pinnipedia means feather

footed and it refers to the shape of their flippers.

Children will learn about pinnipeds through facts, games, application

and gain an education about marine life and conservation.

Beate Litz is the education director for the center and she heads up

the camp, lending both her practical experience -- she has been with the


center for five years -- and her academic expertise -- she earned her

degree in marine biology from the UC Santa Cruz.

The camp is a week long and is limited to 15 students per session.

“It’s capped at 15 per session because we don’t want to hinder their

experience here,” Litz said.

The camper’s day is broken into downstairs time, which is like lab

work with the animals and classroom time.

“In Camp Pinniped the kids learn how our animal care team


rehabilitates our pinniped patients by performing mock duties such as

rescuing, weighting, feeding and cleaning pens, said Litz said.

The students will be garbed in their protective waterproof gear of

boots and slickers for this portion of the camp. Although the student

will spend a lot of time in the intensive care unit, there is no direct

contact with the animals for the child’s and animal’s safety.

After breaking into smaller teams, they will weigh the fish out for

the pinnipeds and will blend them into fish formula for patients not

strong enough to eat on their own. From there the students watch and

learn how a tube feeding is done.

The children virtually learn every facet that goes on at the center

even down to cleaning and doing laundry for the mammals. The students

start learning all about seals and sea lions including the clinical

terms, vocabulary and physiology.

They also learn of the pinniped’s role as both predator and prey, as

well as about whales and dolphins. They also build models out of clay so

the children discover how the environment shapes the mammal’s body. On

oceanography day they study water samples of the ocean through

microscopes and learn about different types of waves.

The campers get to see the sea lions’ progress and Litz enjoys

watching the children’s excitement over their sense of involvement.

This year the camp has added an additional program of extended camp

hours until 5:15 p.m., which gives the camper and parent some options.

The first week of camp, which runs through July 12 is full. The second

session runs from July 15-19 and has three spots available. There are two

spaces available for the July 29 through Aug. 2 camp. The final camp,

Aug. 5-9, has plenty of room.


Camp Pinniped

WHERE: 20612 Laguna Canyon Road

PHONE: Beate Litz, 494-3050