Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

All Courses are 2 hours unless otherwise noted

* Denotes a Core Course in which all groups participate

The EBOA offers a wide variety of courses and is committed to working with each school to develop an a la carte menu of NGSS classes that best suites each individual’s needs. Below is a list of the various modules that we offer. To build your own adventure, please contact the Director of Sales and Marketing, Alix Fulham [email protected]

Core Courses

* Orientation & Arrival Day Activities (2-4 Hours)

During orientation on Day 1, students will take a tour of camp, visit the Pennington Marine Science Center, complete their float test, learn how to put on a wetsuit, get briefed on camp safety, and meet with their Animal Groups for some team building!

* Activity Block

This afternoon session gives students the opportunity to choose their own activity. Depending on school size, we will offer between 2-4 activities including a hike, paddleboarding, arts & crafts, and archery.

* Stewardship: Every Day is Earth Day

Even though we may not see it, our daily lives are increasingly taking their toll on the natural world. Students will participate in a conservation project to benefit Catalina Island and learn ways to be proactive at home and in their communities to reduce their impact on the environment.

Wet Courses (Students/chaperones will get wet in these courses)

Come Fly with Me (Ornithology)

Have you ever wished you had a pair of wings? Students will kayak through the bay with a  special focus on viewing our local birds such as the Pelican, Cormorant, and more to discover what makes our diverse group of avian friends so exceptional.

The Rainforests of the Sea (Kelp Forest Ecology)

One of the world’s most productive and diverse habitats, Giant Kelp beds are home to diverse and thriving communities of fish, invertebrates and understory algae. Students hop on a kayak or paddleboard to combine adventure and learning while exploring kelp, its life cycle, and the conditions in which it thrives.

Do You Know the Way to Emerald Bay? (Ocean Kayaking)

Sit back and enjoy the view as you take up a paddle and tour the bay. We provide single person kayaks, a knowledgeable naturalist, and a PFD. The tour will cover the basics of Marine Protected Areas, Kelp Forests and Ornithology, and is a perfect option for schools visiting for a shorter amount of time and can’t do each of those courses individually.

What’SUP? (Stand Up Paddleboards)

Stand Up Paddle Boards offer a new vantage point from which to explore the bay. Test your balance while you tour the various surroundings and explore new ecosystems. The tour will cover the basics of Marine Protected Areas, Kelp Forests and Ornithology, and is a perfect option for schools visiting for a shorter amount of time and can’t do each of those courses individually.

Swim with the Fish! (Snorkeling I)

You’ve explored all we have to offer above the water, now explore the world below the water. Students are provided with snorkels, masks, fins, and a wetsuit, for a guided adventure in Doctor’s Cove. Bring your courage and curiosity to explore!

Get to the Point: Snorkel Around Doctor’s Point (Snorkeling II) (4-5 day trips only)

For groups that completed Snorkeling I, take your adventure to the next level with a guided snorkel trip around Doctor’s Point. You’ll begin along the sandy bottom of Emerald Bay, swim along the kelp and cliffs of Doctor’s Point, and finish in Doctor’s Cove. Total swim distance is approximately ¼ mile and is recommended for confident snorkelers.

Dry Courses (Students/chaperones remain dry)

Island Biogeography: A Whole New World

With over 60 species of plants and animals that can only be found on the island, Catalina provides the perfect backdrop to explore the unique and isolated ecosystems of islands. Students will examine how and why species ended up on the island, how they have adapted to living in their new homes, and how disturbance from humans or foreign pests can pose a significant threat.

Seeds of Life (Botany)

Life’s pretty tough when everything’s out to eat you. Despite this, plants have learned to adapt and endure all over the globe. In the session, students investigate how plants have learned to adapt to dry, fire-prone conditions and how they have responded to life without pressures from grazing animals.

Sanctuaries in the Sea (Marine Protected Areas)

The Marine Protection Act helps conserve biological diversity, provide a sanctuary for marine life, and enhance recreational and education opportunities. We explore how MPAs accomplish this and how they are effective through discussion, games, and views of our local MPA.

Living on the Edge (Intertidal Zonation)

When land meets sea, the changing tide creates dynamic intertidal zones, one of the harshest environments. Taught on the beach in Doctor’s Cove and at the Pennington Marine Science Center, students observe first-hand how ocean life has adapted to survive life on the edge.

Bones Are Overrated (Marine Invertebrates)

Often overlooked, invertebrates, although spineless, are the backbone of marine ecosystems and food webs. In this class, students discover what makes invertebrates so important and unique in the unparalleled setting of our Marine Protected Area and the touch tanks of the Pennington Marine Science Center. *Feet may get wet*

Take a Walk on the Wild Side (Hike)

For those looking for an adventure off the water, our naturalists will lead a hike that sparks student curiosity as we observe wildflowers, birds, bison and more! Hikes range from easy to hard, we have it all.

Team Building: Better Together

After a fun icebreaker, students will be divided into teams for various interactive team challenges. Students will be challenged to communicate and collaborate with each member of the team in order to complete the task.

Night Courses

Earth: An Island in The Night (Astronomy)

Since the dawn of man, humans have been captivated by the vast unknown that fills the night sky. Students will model the phases of the moon, take a tour of the constellations and point telescopes up the heavens for a close look of planets, nebulas, and nearby galaxies. Course is offered round-robin style and Animal Groups can be combined.

Creatures of the Night (Nocturnal Wildlife)

Catalina Island leads a double life. Students will investigate why some animals wait for sundown to emerge and will go on the hunt to locate some of our nocturnal neighbors. Hike is approximately 1 mile.

The Cove Has Eyes: Night Snorkel (Snorkeling II) (4-5 day trips only)

For groups that have completed Snorkeling I, make a return trip to Doctor’s Cove but this time – at night! In addition to the standard snorkel gear, students will also don a glow stick and a dive light for this unforgettable experience. Night Snorkel is recommended for confident snorkelers.


Take a Deep Breath. You Can Thank Plankton for That! (Plankton)

They may be microscopic, but phytoplankton are responsible for producing up to 50% of Earth’s oxygen. Students collect their own plankton from Emerald Bay, identify and discuss the different groups, talk about their importance for life on Earth, and examine them up close in our plankton lab.

Let’s Get SoFishticated! (Ichthyology)

Globally, fish provide food for more than 1.5 billion people each year, but most people have never seen a fish in the wild. In the class, students will work closely with a marine biologist to identify features and adaptations during a dissection. Students will also observe local fish up close in the Pennington Marine Science Center.

Would You Like Microplastic With That? (Microplastics)

Working its way up the food chain at alarming rates, microplastics are filling the guts of fish, birds, marine mammals, and even humans. Students run experiments to see if they can find microplastics on the beach, what they can do to reduce plastic waste, and make a positive difference for our oceans.

Is It Me or Is It Warm in Here? (Climate Change)

Is the world really getting warmer or is the Earth just going through a natural cycle? Students will complete a lab on greenhouse gases to determine their effect, if any, on climate.

Group Experiences

Ready for S’more Fun? (Campfire and S’mores)

Our staff will build your campfire and provide the ingredients for S’mores. Enjoy your campfire time with your school or group however you would like – performing skits, singing songs, sharing stories, or reflecting on your time at Emerald Bay.

Movie Night

We will provide a family friendly movie or feel free to bring your own. You can also bring movie snacks for your group or we’ll set up a mini snack-bar with treats for sale during the movie.