Experiences at Catalina Outdoor Education

Our 7th graders had the amazing opportunity to step outside of the four walls of the classroom and into God’s Creation to experience and explore His intelligent design first-hand on Catalina Island at the Catalina Island Marine Institute in Toyon Bay! It was an amazing week as the students learned a tremendous amount of marine biology AND had a tremendous amount of fun! Here are some descriptions from the students, themselves, describing some of the many activities they experienced throughout the week.

Student Voices:

It took two hours to get from Long Beach to Toyon Bay, and the entire time anticipation was up as we were so excited to start our week.  The boat we took was the Catalina King, it was old, but reliable. At the beginning of the trip the chaperones had us take Bonine to keep us from getting sea sick. There was a snack bar with foods such as candy and soda, they also had healthy options such as water, that was it. Some students saw dolphins, others saw sea lions, all were amazed by God’s beautiful creation. When we saw the camp it was exciting, and we knew we were about to have a wonderful adventure.

By: Bella and Sylvia


Snorkeling was such a beautiful event. Putting on the wet-suit was kind of tricky, but it was very fun. Some groups saw a sea lion and we all saw plenty of fish. The instructors led the group and would go down and grab fun/cool living species. Despite that, in our groups we found numerous marine animals, including things such as eels and baby sharks, along with our instructors giving short introductions to the animals while holding them above water and having them squirm around for their dear life. We had many snorkels during the week (a total of five).  Some groups had two snorkels in a day and some had one.

By: Zoe, Claire  


Do you think belly flopping in a wet-suit would be fun? Well, at Catalina you have a good chance at having a lot of fun float jumping. You can do belly flops, dives, cannon balls, and many more jumps into the Pacific Ocean. That is not all you do while float jumping, you can also do games and challenges. One of the hilarious challenges was when the instructors yelled out an animal and you had to imitate that animal before jumping into the water. This activity was a reward after a long, fun, and educational snorkel experience. Another awesome experience while float jumping was that one of the groups saw a sea lion swimming around the float dock. This was one of the most exciting and fun experiences we had at Catalina Island Marine Institute.

By: Timothy,  Jordan


Going to Catalina Island was the best experience of my life! I did so many new things and learned so much. Personally, my favorite part of the trip was the all day kayak. We saw a sea turtle, three bald eagles, a sea lion, and Garibaldi! We kayaked to White’s Landing and swam for about 2 hours and relaxed on the sand. On our way back to Toyon Bay we did a variety of challenges with our partners in our kayaks. For example, my partner and I switched kayaks with our friends and did many other exciting challenges. We experienced so many new things and learned so much about God’s creation and his world.

By: Ronan & Ben


On the hike there was a lot to learn. We learned about native, invasive, and endemic species. The invasive species were things like the common fig or the bull frog. The endemic species is like the island fox and the California ground squirrel. The last one is native there is the Catalina Cherry Tree or the deer mouse. There was also sage at the hike and it smells a little like licorice and  the last thing is we talked about the rattlesnake. Apparently, the rattlesnake has a harder and more venomous bite at Catalina than anywhere else. They are currently researching why this so.

By: Cooper


While we were at Catalina we went seining. Seining is when you try to catch a fish with a net while another group of people shuffles towards the net to trap anything in between. We went seining for leopard sharks. While we were out there we were divided into two teams, scare team and the net team. The net team held a net in the water, and the scare team shuffled their feet causing the shark to go towards the nets. While we were doing this we caught a baby leopard shark which we named Larry, the counselors decided to keep Larry in the shark tank. The camp is currently filling for a permit.

By: Taylor and Jeannine


Every year at St. John’s Lutheran School the seventh grade goes on a school trip for a week to Catalina Island. On the Thursday after dinner everyone goes down by the ocean to a chapel completely organized by the students. Our dorms were all assigned a part of the chapel. My dorm was assigned the message. Our message was about this year’s theme verse from Ephesians 2:8-9 “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” I think that this was a great bonding experience for all the dorms. We were all working together and building friendships. In the end the chapel was a great success.

By: Clara


The talent show was hilarious for just students putting it together. There were so many good acts and some scores i didn’t agree with. Except it was a great bonding experience for all of 7th grade. There were lots of great talents like acting, dancing, singing, jokes, fake playing instruments, and sports. God gave us all these talents so we could glorify Him with it, but the way to go to win the talent show is Shakespeare. By; Paul

The labs on Catalina were so much fun! We did many labs such as the shark lab, the plankton lab and the invertebrate lab. Each of the labs were very different from each other. The first lab we did was the shark lab. We learn about the dermal denticles which means “Skin teeth”. After we learned about sharks we actually got to touch them! After the shark lab we went to the fish lab and got to see a giant eyeball! We also got to see a ton of different fish. The plankton lab was by far my favorite. We got to learn about plankton and then use a microscope to see them. After that we got to actually build a plankton and race to see who was the slowest to sink. During the algae lab we got to search through algae to look for small creatures. We found an adorable sea hair. In the oceanography lab we got to test the water. In the invertebrate lab we got to kiss a sea cucumber. All the labs showed us how much God loves us. He created all of the creatures we saw. In the end the labs were so much fun to do!

By: Riley


Thursday night we went rock climbing, from a small distance away the rock wall doesn’t seem that tall until you get close to it. We put on our gear after the instructors told  how to and everyone went to their course. The ones facing the front of the hill were the easiest ones, except for the Beast. On the left side of those three courses were the ones on the dark side, they made it more challenging by not have any light on it, obviously. On the left of the dark side were more hard ones but on the right of the easy ones were the most challenging, the Beast was on the left of the easy ones and go right there were Sharknado and Chuck Norris. What made these difficult is that the rock wall stuck out a little bit and the handles were also harder to grip, no one ever beat them. Some people noticed creepy faces sticking out of the wall, who ever created this probably put them there to creep someone out and make them fall. They played songs while everyone was climbing but somewhere in the middle they ironically played Careless Whisperer, and the last song was How Far I’ll Go from Moana. Personally the rock wall was one of my favorite parts of the trip, probably since I’ve done it a lot.

By: Alex


Without the instructors, CIMI would have more bland. They taught on everything they were supposed to and then more. If it wasn’t for the instructors we wouldn’t have learned as much as we did. They really helped on the trip and made it more enjoyable. Because of the instructors we learned a lot of good and new information at the labs that we might have not known before. We had fun with all of them doing snorkels, labs and hikes throughout the whole week in Catalina. All the instructors are unique in their own different ways and have very special God-given talents that we all love. We will remember all of the instructors and all the great things they taught us about of the Catalina trip.

By: Finn and Matthew


Mrs. Yvette Stuewe, Middle School Science

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Author: jhollatz

I am the principal of St. John's Lutheran School and a proud dad of two girls at SJLS!

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