Marine Science Camp Frequently Asked Questions
How to register
How do I register?
Click the REGISTER HERE button on any of the Marine Science Camp pages to be taken to ACTIVE, our secure camp registration site.
What if the session is full?
If the session is full and you wish to be added to the waitlist, please continue with the normal registration process. A deposit will not be taken for waitlist registrations. If a spot opens up for your child you will be notified and given 24 hours to decided if you want to take the spot. Payment will be due at the time of acceptance. If you do not reply to us within 24 hours of being notified of the open spot, we will move down the waitlist and offer the spot to the next family.
Cancellation policy and refund policy
What is the cancellation and refund policy?
The $100 deposit + processing fees are non-refundable. Tuition minus the deposit is refundable for cancellations made two weeks prior to your camp's start date.
Marine Science Camp runs at full capacity. There are no make-up days for missed camp days.
MSI will fully refund fees if the session is canceled.
Choosing a camp
Which level of camp is appropriate for my child?
Our camps are divided by grade. Small groups within each camp will be divided to have campers entering 1 or 2 grades so that campers of similar levels will be with their peers.
If your child attends a school that does not assign traditional grade levels, you may go by the general guideline starting at 5 years old for Kindergarten, 6 years is 1st grade, and so on.
Curriculum is designed based upon current standards in science education to include topics that your camper will be familiar with as well as more challenging subject matter to give them a head start. All camps include activities that engage multiple learning styles, including thematic crafts, songs, and games.
What is the difference between Wetland Explorers and Ocean Explorers?
These two camps for children entering 2nd - 5th grade are similarly structured, but focus on different themes. Both camps have 2 days at our site, 2 field trips to different sites, and one day on the boat. The Wetland Explorers focus on animals and habitats found around the Bay such as sloughs, marshes, mudflats, and salt ponds. Ocean Explorers study coastal and open ocean animals and habitats including tide pools, kelp forests, and the deep sea.
These camps are designed so that campers can return to multiple sessions and still have fun, new experiences. These camps have few activities in common, including camp favorites such as the voyage aboard the ship and studying sharks. Most campers benefit from some repetition/reinforcement and enjoy being "experts" at familiar topics and activities.
My camper has been to this camp before, will they still like it?
YES! Summer camp is a different experience every year. Nearly a third of our campers each summer have attended our camp before.
All of our camps have something new to offer each year. The curriculum is constantly revised to include new opportunities and to revisit old favorites in a new way. Additionally, campers will likely enjoy learning from a different instructor than they had before. Each of our staff comes with their own expertise and style, and use teachable moments provided by the ever-changing environment so that no two camp experiences are alike.
Our Naturalist camp is for campers entering 4th or 5th grade who have attended camp before. These "experts" will explore in more depth and move beyond the MSI favorites that they have already enjoyed.
My camper has a friend attending camp, can they be in the same group?
Yes, we can place friends together. Fill out the Buddy Request Form during registration so they may be put into the same group.
How do I know what my camper is doing each day?
The Parent Handbook has an outline of daily activities for each camp and it can be accessed at any time from our website. You will also be sent a copy of the Parent Handbook and the Weekly Schedule two weeks prior to the start of your camp session, and again one week prior.
Pick up and drop off
How does drop off work?
Due to our limited parking area we use a drive through-style drop-off and pick-up. This is proven to be efficient and safe. To drop off your campers follow the circle of traffic cones and pull as far forward as possible. A Marine Camp staff member will be there to greet you, check in your camper, and gather any additional information we may need. A staff member will walk your child to their morning gathering area.
If you require extra time to help your camper out, or if you want to walk your camper in yourself, you may let a staff member know and they will direct you to a parking space. Make sure that your camper is checked in before walking them into their morning gathering area.
How does pick up work?
When you arrive to pick up your child, a staff member will greet you and direct you around the circle of cones. Please do not enter the lot until invited to do so--we may need to hold space for school busses returning from field trips. Our staff will check your camper out and call them to meet you as your pull all they way around the circle. Please bring a sign with your child’s name that we can use to call your child to speed up this process.
Important: we must check your child out to an approved driver on their registration form, please make sure that our list is accurate.
If you need to park you may ask to be directed to a parking space. We would be happy to assist your child with their car seat buckles upon request. We only load campers on one side of the parking lot to ensure that no children need to cross the lot. Please be patient until you pull all the way forward before encouraging your child to get in the vehicle.
How is carpooling set up?
We are happy to encourage camp families to arrange carpooling. When you complete the supplemental form for pick up/drop off, you will have an opportunity to express interest in carpooling.
We will share a list of contact information with the families who indicate their interest. It is up to each family to make arrangements. Successful groups are often spearheaded/coordinated by one family through email.
Please add the names of the adults participating in your carpool to each child's approved pick up list. Make sure that each adult knows the children's first and last names to correctly check them in and out.
What to bring
Does MSI provide food for my camper?
We will provide a nut-free mid-morning snack for our campers. Options will also be available to accommodate other dietary restrictions.
Water stations are available on-site and off-site on field trips.
Please pack a trash-free lunch and refillable water bottle for your camper.
What clothes are appropriate for camp?
At MSI, campers will be enjoying fun activities outside that may include water, mud, and fish slime. Please dress them in "play clothes" that they will feel comfortable in, and will not be worried about getting dirty.
A ready camper wears:
A hat (for sun protection)
A coat or warm layer
Clothes that can get dirty
Campers will NOT be swimming at this camp--they do not need to bring a bathing suit or towel, though spare socks for wet feet are sometimes useful.
Please label all items with your camper's name so that we can help them to keep track of their things.
Should my camper bring medicine?
If your camper needs to take medication during the day, please make sure that they have it with them including instructions. Please alert the staff that the camper has these.
If your child has severe allergies, please pack emergency medication as needed (anti-histamines, epi-pens, etc). Include instructions detailing symptoms and your preferred plan of action. MSI does not provide medication of any type.
Dramamine, or other medicine for motion-sickness may not be necessary for the ship. Because we stay in the Bay, which is typically calm, we rarely see cases of sea-sickness.
Discovery Voyage boat trip
How large is the ship?
The Robert G. Brownlee is a 90' research vessel that was designed specifically for teaching programs in the San Francisco Bay. Its maximum capacity is 103 passengers and crew. In 2013, this ship received several upgrades, and the Brownlee now runs on the cleanest and most fuel-efficient marine diesel engines available today.
Is this trip safe?
Our vessel, the Robert G. Brownlee, was designed specifically with students in mind. This ship passes regular Coast Guard inspections of maintenance, safety, and rescue equipment. Our staff undergo rigorous training to become crew on this ship and must complete regular safety drills. In addition, all campers wear personal floatation devices provided by MSI at all times.
How long is the trip?
The "Discovery Voyage" on our ship will last for a full camp day. The ship undocks promptly at 9 am after a brief welcome activity on land. It is important that your camper arrives during the drop-off window in the morning, between 8 - 8:30 so that they do not miss out on this exciting adventure.
Campers will enjoy activities including fishing, sampling mud, and studying plankton, using equipment standard in the field. They will eat lunch on the water before returning in time for pick up.
The ship will return approximately 15 minutes before pick up--please plan to have your camper stay for the full day of camp.
Summer camp staff
What is the camper to staff ratio?
Each group of Plankton Pioneers has a maximum of 16 campers to 2 MSI staff. Each group in the other types of camp have 15 campers to 2 MSI staff.
One or two volunteers also join each group.
What is the experience of your staff?
There are two levels of staff at MSI. Our Instructors and Counselors work in pairs to lead each group of campers.
Marine Science Camp Instructors must have a college degree and experience working in outdoor education. Counselors must be in college and have experience working with children. MSI Marine Science Camp staff receive a two week professional development training, ongoing observation and evaluations. All camp staff members are highly qualified, pre-screened, finger printed, and CPR/First-aid certified.
Is extended care available?
We offer care after camp until 5:30 pm. Plankton Pioneer extended care begins at the end of the pick-up window (1:30 pm) and is available until 3:30 pm. Regular extended care begins at the end of the pick-up-window (3:30 pm) and is available until 5:30 pm.
We do not offer extended care in the morning before camp. Drop off opens at 8:00 am.
What do campers do during extended care?
Extended care is a fun time for campers to explore our shore and do activities not done during camp. Campers and instructors can shape their activities based on the interests of the group. Activities done during extended care (will vary): free time to explore the beach, "belly biology" studying the animals under our docks, helping to feed animals in the aquarium, arts and crafts, team games, short experiments.
A small snack will be provided.
What does extended care cost?
Extended care costs $15 per hour. You may pay as you go, or prepay at the start of camp. It is not an option to "run up a tab". Extended care purchases and unused extended care are non-refundable.
How do I sign up for extended care?
There are two ways to sign up for extended care:
- Purchase extended care during registration in 2-hour blocks. Unused extended care is non-refundable. This option offers peace of mind that extended care payment is taken care of and your child(ren) will be automatically enrolled in the 1:30-3:30 pm block and/or the 3:30-5:30 pm block. This may be ideal for carpool groups or for days when another authorized adult picks up your child(ren).
- If you are unsure if you need extended care every day, then we recommend the pay-as-you-go option. Simply let a staff member know during camp drop-off if your child(ren) will be in extended care that day. Extended care doesn't '"fill up" and we do not turn anyone away. You must pay via cash or check upon pick-up. This option requires payment daily but offers more flexibility with time: if your child was in extended care for 30 minutes then you would be required to pay $7.50 cash or check for that time instead of paying for the full hour.
Is there a sibling discount?
Yes, after the first registration each additional sibling will receive a $25 discount. This discount will be automatically applied in your cart.
Is there a multiple camp discount?
Yes, after the first registration each additional session will receive a $25 discount. This discount will be automatically applied in your cart.
Is there a Member discount?
Families at the Bay Steward and Ocean Advocate Membership levels receive a $25 discount. Your Membership purchase confirmation e-mail has a coupon code that you can apply during your Marine Science Camp registration checkout. Annual Family Membership families do not receive a camp discount.
How to apply Good Neighbor Discount
This discount is for select businesses within the Seaport Centre, Port of Redwood City, Bloomquist, East Bayshore and Pacific Shores Center. Contact the Marine Camp Manager at to receive a coupon code. Coupon will be applied during checkout to receive a $25 discount.