For years I have written about the unique experiences that SeaWorld Orlando offers children at its summer day and resident camps, but last year was the first year my dolphin-loving daughter experienced the fun for herself. And she loved every minute of the five days! We’re already making plans for her to attend another summer camp, and you can too, because 2016 registration is now open.
SeaWorld Orlando offers a wide variety of day camps for kids from preschool age through middle school. Sleep-away camps are available for middle- and high-school students. All of the camps are designed to allow children to interact with the marine animals as well as learn about the park’s animal residents. The first camp begins June 13, and the last camp of the summer begins Aug. 8. They all run Monday through Friday.
Day camps are organized by grade level for children going into preschool through eighth grade. Campers will focus on a different animal each day — including whales, sharks, dolphins, penguins and sea lions — and learn about them through songs, take-home arts and crafts, as well as by talking with zoological staff. Lunch, snacks, a camp T-shirt and water bottle are included in the price of camp. Participants who meet the height requirements also will have the opportunity to experience rides together.
The camp themes and experiences seem to remain the same from year to year, and this year is no exception. However, there are multiple offerings for each grade level, so campers who return more than once will continue to have experiences that are new to them.
Children ages 3 and 4 can experience SeaFari from 9 a.m. to noon each day. The price is $275, and this is the only camp planned for a parent and child to experience together. That price is for the pair, a complimentary T-shirt and water bottle for the camper, and a snack each day. The camp offers up-close animal encounters, crafts and select animal shows.
Camps for children going into grades 1 through 8 take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day and cost $350 per week. (SeaWorld pass members can save $50 per camp by registering through the pass member website or by calling 1-800-406-2244.) After care is available from 3 to 5 p.m. for an additional $75 per camper per week.
Programs for upcoming kindergarten and first-graders include: Sea Hideaway (learn how animals find the best hiding places and explore animal camouflage); Do You See What I Sea? (find out how your senses compare to sharks, whales, dolphins and much more); and Secrets of the Sea (uncover the secrets of killer whales, polar bears, and other sea critters).
Kids going into second and third grade can pick from these topics: What’s For Lunch? (find out what types of food the animals eat and then help feed dolphins, flamingos and sting rays); Ocean Odyssey (discover why some animals migrate and where they go); and Animal Addresses (learn how killer whales, sea lions, penguins and other animals adapt to their surroundings).
Campers entering fourth and fifth grades in the fall have their choice of Animal Antics (explore the world of animal behavior and training with up-close encounters); Walk on the Wild Side (learn about a variety of animals with hands-on experiences); and Feeding Frenzy (learn how SeaWorld prepares food for over 41,000 animals and feed some of the residents).
Last year, my then-10-year-old daughter, who wants to be a marine biologist and dolphin trainer, attended the Animal Antics day camp. Despite our family having annual passes to SeaWorld Orlando for years, my daughter was really excited about each day’s activities. She especially loved all the animal encounters, which are not things you can do in the park without a special small-group tour, and the behind-the-scenes activities. The campers also were able to talk to a variety of animal trainers, which she took full advantage of. This summer, my daughter will be able to delve into even more experiences related to her future career.
Upcoming sixth- to eighth-grade campers focus on careers related to animal care: Wild Careers (go behind the scenes to see what it’s like to work with the animals and help construct toys for them); Marine Biology 101 (discover what it’s like to be a real marine biologist and conduct hands-on experiments); and Animal Sciences (learn how biology, geography and other sciences all play a role in studying marine animals and visit the park’s research facilities). During these three camps, the participants will spend one day at Aquatica, SeaWorld’s nearby water park.
For day camps, a same-day after-camp admission to SeaWorld is available at a discounted rate.
Students going into seventh through twelfth grades can attend resident career “sleep-away” camps. These campers experience what it takes to train and work with marine animals and have the opportunity to touch a penguin, snorkel in a shark cage, work with the animal care staff and create an enriching environment for our animals. Plus, participants spend a day at Discovery Cove swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with tropical fish and rays and feeding exotic birds in a free-flight aviary. They also will visit Aquatica.
Resident camps cost $1,200, which includes all camp activities, lodging onsite at SeaWorld and at its partner hotel for five nights, plus all meals and snacks. Supervision and guidance is provided 24 hours a day for the entire duration.
SeaWorld camps are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), a nationally recognized association focused on health, safety and program quality.
For more information, visit SeaWorldCamps.com/Orlando or call 1-800-406-2244.