An Exploration of Narragansett Bay
Bay Mania will take you on an adventure of exploration in Narragansett Bay, the centerpiece of Rhode Island. The week is spent exploring coastal ecosystems and marine habitats. Rhode Island’s pristine Prudence Island in the heart of Narragansett Bay will provide the backdrop for much of your week. This camp theme is offered in conjunction with the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NBNERR), which means that in addition to your counselors and junior counselors from Alton Jones Camp, you will meet staff from the NBNERR who will share their knowledge and enthusiasm about Prudence Island and Narragansett Bay. This program offers a chance to learn about Narragansett Bay while making new friends and having fun.
Sunday and Monday are spent at the W. Alton Jones Campus. Your Bay Mania group will consist of a maximum of 10 campers, 2 Alton Jones counselors or a counselor and a junior counselor. You will sleep in cabins with some campers who are in your group and some who are in other themes, which will allow you to get to know kids from outside your Bay Mania group. You will eat your meals in the dining hall except for lunch Tuesday through lunch Thursday. Sunday is devoted to meeting and getting to know your cabin-mates and fellow Bay Mania campers, junior counselors, and counselors. Sunday night also includes an all-camp campfire where you will meet and see all of the other campers and counselors who are in Earth Camp for the week.
Monday will focus on the importance of water and an overview of the bay. You will also learn about freshwater systems as a basis for comparison to the marine ecosystems that you will explore. Swim tests occur at Lake Eisenhower in the morning, so be ready to get wet! Monday night involves an all-camp activity and snack before heading to the cabins for a good night’s sleep.
On Tuesday morning you will pack your van, have breakfast, then head out to meet the ferry. The ferry waits for no one, so it will be important to leave on time. The ferry leaves Bristol and arrives in the small old-fashioned island village of Homestead where you will begin your Prudence Island adventure. From Homestead you will drive to the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve at the south end of the island and move into your sleeping cabin. After move-in, lunch, and an orientation you will head off for snorkeling. The rest of the week involves exploring the coastal ecosystems of Prudence Island.
While you are on Prudence Island a staff member from NBNERR will join your group during the daytime. Other activities planned for Prudence Island include a salt marsh walk, a tour of the island, sandy beach activities, a tidal creek study, a crab monitoring program, a sunset walk, ecology games, and swimming. A full compliment of rainy day activities have been planned just in case the weather doesn’t fully cooperate. Tuesday and Wednesday evenings will be spent at the Reserve’s modern sleeping cabin which includes bedrooms with bunk beds, a living room, a kitchen, and bathrooms. Your counselors will prepare simple meals in the cabin’s kitchen, and some lunches may be packed out to be eaten outdoors at the study sites.
Thursday is time to pack up, clean up, and say goodbye to Prudence Island as you board the ferry back to the mainland. But there is still one more adventure in store on your exploration of Narragansett Bay. You will head off to meet the folks of Save the Bay to go on a cruise. This hands-on cruise aboard the oceanographic study vessel Alletta Morris will give you the opportunity to conduct fish studies, pull a trawl, test water quality and enjoy some time on the bay. After the cruise you’ll head back to Alton Jones for rest, dinner and an all-camp evening program and closing campfire before heading off to your cabin to sleep.
Friday is spent putting the whole week together with reviews and wrap-ups plus closing activities. After lunch, there is some time to spend with friends new and old before the family program begins. Sign out and goodbyes follow as the week comes to an end.
In addition to the standard Earth Camp packing list, here are a few things to highlight, add, or to have packed separately for the overnight trip to Prudence Island:
- Extra bathing suit (having 2 suits is helpful)
- Separate swim and shower towels
- Water bottle
- Sunscreen and Insect Repellant
- Rain Coat
- Day pack
- Change of clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste, sleeping bag, etc. for the overnight
- Closed toed water shoes (flip-flops, sandals, or other open-toed shoes are not acceptable–see below)
About Footwear: Bay Mania is all about water so be prepared to get your feet wet! The Prudence Island beaches have sharp rocks and shells so footwear is required even when swimming. A pair of old sneakers that still fit comfortably can serve as excellent water shoes. If you do pack sneakers, canvas tennis shoes or running sneakers with minimal amounts of leather are best as they dry faster than all-leather sneakers. Keene-type closed sandals, croc clogs with the back strap intact, or river shoes with full foot protection are also appropriate. Aqua socks, although popular, can chafe if they are too tight, can cause blisters, and don’t provide much protection if you drop something on your foot or step on a sharp object. A second pair of dry shoes to change into at day’s end is also important. For foot safety, flip-flops, river sandals, or other open-toed shoes are not allowed at any time except in the shower.
A Special Note About Ticks: Like many coastal areas, the forests of Prudence Island have a high concentration of disease carrying ticks. While on the island, every effort will be made to avoid tick habitat. These forest-dwelling ticks do not typically live in the areas we will be visiting, which include salt marshes, sandy beaches, tidal creeks, open lawns and meadows. Tick checks are a regular part of Alton Jones programs and campers will be reminded to conduct periodic checks. Treating shoes (and other clothing) with permethrin products such as Buzz Off before the camp program starts can also help prevent tick bites. Parents should help their camper conduct a thorough tick check after returning home. An “>Information Sheet on ticks and tick borne illnesses is available with the online forms.