Environmental Education Center

W. Alton Jones Campus, 401 Victory Highway, West Greenwich, RI 02817-2158

altonjones@uri.edu – 401.874.8200 (p); 401.397.3293 (f)

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Coastal Explorers


Look In-Depth at Narragansett Bay!
Ages 14-17

Coastal Explorers 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, which means that in addition to your Teen Leaders 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.

Coastal Explorers began with a grant sponsored in part through the Summer Science in New England program through New England Aquarium and NOAA.  The goal was to engage teens ages 14-17 at camps and science centers throughout New England in ocean science and sampling techniques.  Coastal Explorer teens will work with field scientists to learn to identify marine organisms and apply NaGISA shoreline sampling and data collection techniques.  NaGISA is a Japanese word that means shoreline and it stands for Natural Geography in Shore Areas.  It is a simple coastal sampling technique being introduced worldwide.

Sunday and Monday are spent at the W. Alton Jones Campus.  Your Coastal Explorers group will consist of a maximum of 10 teens and 2 Alton Jones leaders.  While at Alton Jones you will sleep in screen houses at the Teen Expedition Base Camp. Everyone will have an opportunity to help prepare meals while in camp.  Sunday is devoted to meeting and getting to know your group-mates and leaders and you will do a swim test at Lake Eisenhower, so be ready to get wet!. Sunday night also includes an “all camp” campfire where you will meet and see all of the other teens and leaders who are at Teen Expeditions for the week.

Monday will focus on freshwater as a basis for comparison to the marine ecosystems that you will learn about.  Monday afternoon is spent exploring freshwater ponds and streams on the W. Alton Jones Campus. You will  find various critters in the wetlands and learn more about how they survive.  Monday night involves preparing for the trip to Prudence Island before heading to the cabins for a good night’s sleep.

On Tuesday morning you will pack your van, have breakfast, then drive in a 15-passenger van to meet the ferry.  The ferry waits for no one, so it will be important to leave early to get there 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.  In addition to the NaGISA sampling, activities planned for Prudence Island include a salt marsh walk, help with an oyster project, 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. You will be able to help your leaders prepare simple dinners and breakfasts in the cabin’s kitchen, while pack-out lunches will 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 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 sign out and goodbyes as the week comes to an end.

baymaniaA 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 make sure their teen conducts a thorough tick check after returning home.  An Information Sheet on Ticks and tick borne illnesses is available with the online forms.

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