My Catalina Experience: 2019


Group Photo

Going to Fox Landing is an unforgettable experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. After spending hours traveling from Napa to Long Beach, finally making it to camp is something you’ll never forget.

However, before we arrived at Fox Landing, we spent a night at the Queen Mary. We had around 2 1/2 hours to explore the historic ship before it was time to be back in our staterooms. Before it was time to rest, students were allowed to explore the boat and view all the museums located within it.

Before we got to the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI), we were sorted into eight different groups. In your group, you have your lab partner, and 14 other kids (half Harvest half Redwood). I was in group number four.

Once we arrived at camp, at around noon, we almost immediately jumped into activities. Groups 1-3 went to do classes and labs, and 4-6 kayaked. We had maybe an hour to get settled into our villas and change before the classes started.

After we learned all the safety rules and how to kayak, we headed into the water. They were two-person kayaks, and you shared with your lab partner. My favorite part about kayaking was going into a little cave along the coast of the island.

After dinner, Groups 1-3 learned about marine mammals while Groups 4-6 did my favorite class of the entire trip, astronomy. We went up to the amphitheater and sat down on the steps and looked the stars. The instructor in charge of the class had a high-tech laser pointer, which could be seen even when it’s pointed at the stars. Using this, he pointed out the constellations and told us all the myths behind them. I really enjoyed this class because it was an excellent way to end our first hectic day at camp.

The second day at camp, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise. Our villas overlooked the ocean, which made the morning even better.

After breakfast, all six groups headed up to Dive Deck. After an amusing introduction to snorkeling, we put our wetsuits on and headed into the ocean. I would highly recommend bringing your own snorkel and mask because some of the gear is very old and unreliable.

Later that day, it was Group 4-6’s turn to do the classes and labs. We learned about oceanography, inspected plankton through a microscope, and went tide pooling.

That night, Groups 4-6 headed up to Dive Deck once again to do the Night Snorkel. This snorkel was a lot more fun because we got to see the bioluminescence in the water. Towards the end of the snorkel, we turned our lights off, and when we moved our hands, green dots would appear in the water. According to our instructor, only 5% of people ever see the bioluminescence.

The next morning, my group went to do the High Ropes/Low Ropes. High Ropes involved doing a massive rope swing, and Low Ropes was team building activities. High Ropes was the better out of the two, in my opinion, because it was a lot more exhilarating. However, it was fun to work together as a team to solve the challenges.

After lunch, we snorkeled again, but this time on the other side of the island. On this snorkel, I saw a lot more ocean life. My group saw multiple leopard sharks, a lobster, and an opaleye with two eyes on one side.

That night it was Group 1-3’s turn to do the night snorkel, and the other three groups went and learned about marine mammals.

On Thursday morning, all the students had the opportunity to participate in the Polar Plunge. That day around a fourth of the students jumped into the freezing cold ocean without a wetsuit on. Even Ms. Galdamez got in on the fun.

For the rest of the day, everyone hung out on the beach. The original plan was doing a 2-mile kayak to a private beach, but due to inclement weather, it was unsafe for us to go kayaking. However, all the staff tried their hardest to make the day fun for us and offered optional activities such as rock climbing, hiking up Bible Hill, beach yoga, and eeling. That night at dinner, everyone dressed up to say to the kitchen staff.

To celebrate our last night, we went up to the campfire, and several students performed skits. Everyone also got to roast marshmallows.

Our last morning was spent in classes (Groups 4-6), or doing High Ropes/Low Ropes (Groups 1-3). My group learned about sharks, invertebrates, kelp. After our activities, we packed up our villas and got on the boat. After another long bus ride, we arrived back in Napa at 1:30 am.

Catalina was a fantastic experience, and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to go on this trip.