Summer Marine Science Camp



Frequently Asked Questions


Our FAQ Page is under constant review as we update our program and procedures to reflect new guidelines and mandates.

Check back often as we continue to revise our plans.

If you have questions please email us at

Addressing COVID-19

What are your cleaning procedures?

All cleaning procedures are in compliance with San Mateo County Health and California state cleaning and sanitation guidelines. We have implemented more thorough cleaning and sanitizing measures to happen daily before, during, and after program. Those include:

  • All staff will wear masks when cleaning.
  • High contact surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized after each group of participants uses the area.
  • Facilities will be cleaned daily.
  • Hand washing or use of a hand sanitizer will be enforced before and after activities that involved shared materials and before and after eating (snack and lunch).
  • Any item brought from home will be isolated and kept separated from other groups items.
  • Bathroom and Break rooms are sanitized multiple times a day.

How will MSI encourage social distancing during program?

Students will be with their group for the entire session. Each group of 12 students will have a safe space restricted from other groups intermingling. Staff will monitor each child's distance, maintaning the recommended 6' amoung group members (and other necessary staff on-site). All teaching spaces at Marine Science Institute have been taped off to mark 6' distances.

What are the preventive measures that have been implemented?

  • Staff and participants are required to wear masks (unless medically not possible).
  • Staff will check their temperature before arrival- if temperature is above 100 degrees staff will not come to work.
  • Staff will check their temperature upon arrival to work. If temperature is above 100 degrees they will leave the facility.
  • Participants will have their temperature taken upon arrival to the Marine Science Institute. This will be done with an infrared thermometer while they are still in their vehicles. If temperature is above 100 degrees they will not be allowed in the facility.
  • Participants will be asked if they or any in their household are exhibiting any of the following symptom: Fever, coughing, shortness of breath, or new loss of sense of smell/taste. If they have the participant will not be allowed in the facility.
  • If Staff or any in their household are exhibiting any of the following symptom: Fever, coughing, shortness of breath, or new loss of sense of smell/taste they will not be allowed in the facility.
  • All Staff and Participants will wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon arrival to facility.
  • Everyone will be reminded and encouraged to not touch their face with their hands without cleaning their hands first .
  • Everyone will be taught/reminded that coughing and sneezing should be done into a tissue which is thrown away. Hands should we washed or sanitized after using the tissue.
  • Toys and stuffed animals are not allowed and should not be sent with students.
  • All teaching spaces are outside or in well-ventilated areas.
If someone starts to exhibit symptoms after they have entered the facilities they will be quarantined outside until transport off the facilities are available to reduce the risk of transmission. The facilities will be deep cleaned and sanitized.

Cancellation policy and refund policy

What is the cancellation and refund policy?

20% of total program fees and the $3.41 processing fee are non-refundable for cancellations made at any time. Cancellations between May 3 and two weeks prior to your camp start date result in a refund of 50% of total program fees. Cancellations within two weeks of your camp start date are non-refundable. Cancellations due to medical emergencies will be assessed on an individual basis. If federal, state or county COVID-19 mandates prevent MSI from operating Marine Science Camp programs, registrants may opt to donate program fees, defer program fees to the ACTIVE account to be used as a credit, or receive a full refund. Scholarship donations are non-refundable.

Pick up and drop off

How does drop off work?

All drop-off is at Marine Science Institute (500 Discovery Parkway, Redwood City, CA 94063). Due to our limited parking area we use a drive-through style drop-off and pick-up procedure. This is proven to be efficient and safe. To drop off your student follow the circle of traffic cones and pull as far forward as possible. Staff will be present to assist and direct. Additional safety measures will are implemented to attempt reducing the spread of COVID-19:

  • Please wear a face mask or covering over nose and mouth when dropping off.
  • Please wait at the driveway entrance of MSI and a staff member will wave you through.
  • Staff will greet your vehicle and ask you several questions as part of a health check.
  • Students will have their temperature checked using a touchless thermometer while in vehicle.
If children exhibit a temperature of 100 degrees Farenheit or greater they will not be allowed at MSI. Additionally, if participants or any members of their household have been sick or experiencing specific symptoms, they will not be allowed at MSI. After participants are given the all clear, a staff member will continue the check in process then walk your child to their morning gathering area. We cannot accept walk-ins. Please, only drop off your children from the safety of your vehicle in the traffic circle.

How does pick up work?

All pick-up is at Marine Science Institute (500 Discovery Parkway, Redwood City, CA 94063). Please wear a face mask or covering over nose and mouth when picking up. 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. Staff will check that you are on the Authorized Adult Pick Up list, and we will call your child out as you pull around. All adults picking up children are required to be on the Authorized Adult Pick Up List and show a photo ID. Guardians are to inform all persons authorized to pick up their child/ren from MSI of this policy and are to instruct them to have a photo ID at time of pick-up. If you need to add any names to your child's Authorized Adult Pick Up List please contact 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.

What to bring

Does MSI provide food for my child?

MSI will not provide any food to students. Please pack snacks, a trash-free lunch, and refillable water bottle for your child(ren). Water stations are available on-site.

Should my child bring medication?

If your child needs to take medication during the day, please make sure that they have it with them including instructions. Please alert the staff that the child 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.

What should my child bring daily?

We encourage you to label all personal items with your child's name.

  • Small bag or backpack to carry belongings
  • Reusable water bottle (Refill station available; MSI will not provide any single use plastic water bottles)
  • Snack and lunch (MSI will not provide any food)
  • Hat
  • Light jacket or sweater, as it can get breezy in the afternoons
  • Close-toed shoes
  • Sunscreen (MSI will have extra on site)
  • Medication, inhalers and/or EpiPens (if applicable), with instructions
  • Masks are required for all participants (MSI will not provide masks). Face covering exceptions will be made to those with sensory complications or other issues which make wearing masks or face coverings challenging. **Please note that in addition to snack, lunch, and drinking water, there may be other break times in which your camper can remove their mask (i.e. when the activity is outside and with 6-foot social distancing).
  • Please make sure that your child wears clothes and shoes that can get dirty. At MSI, children 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.
Please pack lightly. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the amount of personal belongings brought to MSI must be limited to essentials. Please do not bring personal items such as books, stuffed animals or toys.

Program staff

What is the student to staff ratio?

Each group has a maximum of 12 students to 2 MSI staff. Groups will remain stable with no intermixing or large group gatherings.

What is the experience of your staff?

There are two types of staff at Marine Science Camp: Instructors and Counselors. The Instructors and Counselors work in pairs to lead each group of campers (maximum of 12 campers per 2 MSI staff), and each small group can have a volunteer. Instructors: Instructors have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in fields varying from biology and marine science to education and environmental studies or other similar fields, or they have commensurate experience with MSI programs. Most teach with MSI throughout the year; they are dedicated, experienced and have taught a variety of programs to grades from pre-kindergarten through college. Instructors at Marine Science Camp lead camper learning, supervise campers and are primarily in charge of safety. They are the crew of our 90-foot research vessel and undergo extensive training and regular safety drills to comply with Coast Guard safety standards. Many have field research experience and relate it to topics learned at camp. Our fantastic instructors are role models who inspire and share their passion for marine science with campers of all ages. Counselors: Counselors are in college or have already received their degrees. Many of our counselors are pursuing degrees in the sciences and are interested in marine science or education as a career. They work closely with the instructors helping with activities, assist in overall supervision and aid in providing an understanding of marine topics. Many of our counselors were previously Marine Science Camp participants and volunteers! We even have Counselors who eventually became Instructors! 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 background checked, and CPR/First-aid certified.


What discounts are available?

Current Members at the Bay Steward and Ocean Advocate levels can use a $25 camp disount (discount code contained in the Membership confirmation e-mail). This year we are not able to offer multiple session nor sibling discounts.

Do you offer scholarships?

MSI is offering partial financial assistance to qualifying applicants. The Marine Science Camp Scholarship program is still under construction. Please check back soon.

How to register

How do I register?

Registration opens for current MSI Members January 11. Current Members will receive an e-mail on January 11 with an exclusive link to register for Marine Science Camp. Registration opens to the community on February 1. After February 1, press any of the "REGISTER HERE" buttons on the Summer Marine Science Camp webpage to be taken to ACTIVE, our secure camp registration site. You will be required to login to your existing ACTIVE account or create a new one. You can also follow this link to register: You will receive an automatic confirmation e-mail upon completion of your registration. Please review your confirmation to ensure it matches your selection and that you have registered for the correct session. If you do not receive a confirmation e-mail soon after registration, it may mean that there was a transaction error and you are not registered. Please send an email to describing the issue as best you can. We will research the issue and contact you with next steps.

What if the program is full?

If the program is full and you wish to be added to the waitlist, please continue with the normal registration process. There is no cost to join a waitlist, and no obligation to sign up once you’re on it. If a spot opens up for your child you will be notified via the e-mail and phone number provided in your ACTIVE account 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.

What if my child misses a day?

Missed camp days cannot be made up. MSI operates at full capacity. Due to staff to student ratio, group size restictions and no mixing of cohorts, make up days cannot be accommodated.

Program structure

What happens during a camp session?

Students will do hands-on projects and interact with live animals daily. Sudents will rotate through activity stations throughout each day, with breaks included for snack and lunch. They will utilize the entire MSI space including its outdoor amphitheater, docks, beach, lawns, Marine Science Center and aquarium. All activity spaces are marked off for social distancing. Each day will build upon the previous day's activities. Plankton Pioneers will spend 4 days at MSI and 1 day on board MSI's 90-foot research vessel. Marine Explorers will spend 8 days at MSI and 2 days on board MSI's 90-foot research vessel. Underwater Investigators will spend 1 day at MSI, 2 days canoeing through local sloughs, and 2 days on board MSI's 90-foot research vessel.

What does a typical day at MSI look like?

Students will rotate through activity stations throughout the day, with breaks for snack and lunch. Activity stations include animal touching, using scientific collection gear to find animals off our beach and docks, and themed hands-on marine science lessons and games. The schedule for a typical day spent at MSI is below: 8:30-9:00 am: Drop-off 9:00-9:10 am: Group time and teambuilding; introduction to the day 9:10-9:55 am: Station 1 9:55-10:10 am: Snack 10:10-10:55 am: Station 2 10:55-11:40 am: Station 3 11:40 am-12:30 pm: Lunch 12:30-1:15 pm: Station 4 1:15-2:00 pm: Station 5 2:00-2:45 pm: Station 6 2:45-3:00 pm: Group time; closing of the day and what's coming up tomorrow 3:00-3:30 pm: Pick-up Activity materials and station spaces are sanitized after use and before another group enters the area. Please note that the day aboard canoes for Underwater Investigators and aboard the research vessel for all camps have a different schedule.

Fees and payment

How much is each camp?

Plankton Pioneers for entering K-1st grades is $553.41 ($550 tuition + $3.41 processing fee) per student for each one-week session.

Marine Explorers for entering 2nd-5th grades is $1203.41 ($1200 tuition + $3.41 processing fee) per student for each two-week session.

Underwater Investigators for entering 6th-8th grades is $703.41 ($700 tuition + $3.41 processing fee) per student for each one-week session.

A 40% deposit is required to register for any camp.

What are my options for paying?

All participants must register online through ACTIVE. If space is available in your desired camp session, you can choose between two options to pay with Visa or Mastercard and hold your camper's spot.

Option A: Pay 40% of program fees to check out. Remaining dues are auto-billed May 3, 2021.

Option B: Pay program fees in full. *Registrations made May 3 or later must pay in full to check out.

What is a transaction fee?

A $25 transaction fee is applied to camp session transfers within the same season.

What is a processing fee?

ACTIVE charges a $3.41 processing fee every time a credit card or eCheck is used for payment. This payment goes to ACTIVE, not MSI.


What is the best way to reach the Marine Camp Manager?

We use e-mail as our primary means of communication for confirmations of registration, receipts, and general correspondence. Please check your email provider’s spam protection to ensure that e-mail communications from ACTIVE and are defined as safe so that e-mails from us will not be blocked. In winter and spring: Due to county restrictions, MSI staff must stagger work times in the office. Since camp staff will not always be able to respond to voicemail within 2 business days we suggest you contact the Marine Camp Manager via e-mail: In summer: The Marine Camp Manager will be at MSI daily but not always at her desk as she manages the outdoor summer program. Please feel free to contact the Marine Camp Manager at 650-364-2760 x19, and also e-mail with your inquiry.

What correspondence should I expect to receive for my child's camp session?

Upon completion of your registration the primary parent/guardian will receive an automatic e-mail confirmation containing details of your registration. The following e-mails are sent to the primary parent/guardian in the ACTIVE account, and also the secondary parent/guardian when applicable:

  • Two weeks prior to your child's camp start date you will receive an e-mail containing important information about Marine Science Camp and access to your Parent Handbook.
  • One week prior to your child's camp start date you will receive the above e-mail again.
  • If there are any large updates to Marine Science Camp or your program then you will be contacted via e-mail.

Discovery Voyage boat trip

Who goes on the Discovery Voyage boat trip aboard the R/V Robert G. Brownlee?

All campers! Plankton Pioneers will spend one day aboard the research vessel. Marine Explorers will spend two days aboard. Underwater Investigators will spend two days aboard. This is a highlight of the camp!

How large is the ship?

The Robert G. Brownlee is a 90' research vessel that was designed specifically for teaching programs to students 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.

Due to safety precautions in response to COVID-19, the maximum capacity on the ship in summer 2021 is 24 students plus crew.

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 flotation devices provided by MSI at all times.

How long is the trip?

The "Discovery Voyage" on our ship will last for their full camp day. 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 30 minutes before pick up--please plan to have your camper stay for the full day of camp.

Parent Handbook is under construction and will be available soon