Archive for January, 2010

On Snorkeling


Today I purchased my third pair of fins that I have here.  Already had my neon yellow split-fin scuba fins, and my lame turquoise lap swimming fins from swim team, which I THOUGHT I could use as my snorkel fins.  Turns out that they’re really not built the same and didn’t fit so well anyway.  $30 later I have new pretty fins that are the right size and I felt so FAST!  Woohoo!

Anyway, back to snorkeling.  I hate snorkeling.  Or I did.  So we’re taking this class called “skin diving leader” which is snorkel bootcamp.  It makes me feel so useless because I keep having leg cramps…  but these new fins are supposed to be better.  We shall see.  The class is so far not so useful to me, except for hours and hours of snorkel practice which I suppose is, in fact, useful.  But we went out today to see some of the sites we teach at, and for the first time the water was NOT painfully cold and we actually enjoyed snorkeling with no wetsuit on!  The weather here is bizarre.

In other news, I passed my boat captains’ test this morning!  Things are starting to get more stressful and hectic now that the easy lifeguarding part is over.  Miss you all!

If you need my address:
Liz Becker
NHMI at Seacamp
1300 Big Pine Avenue
Big Pine Key, FL   33043

Today’s picture:  My dorm.  We live in a staff room in the student housing (all the better to work dorm-duty!).


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As of Wednesday night I am once again certified in CPR/AED, and tomorrow I will be a certified open-water/waterfront lifeguard.  After dinner tonight I’m getting my oxygen administration cert too.  Yesterday we went out driving the boats for the first time and it was so much fun!!  Now we just need to pass the written USCG exam and get ten approved (witnessed by a director) dockings, then we can drive the boats on our own!

Today we had our canoe and kayak workshop, basically just went out kayaking/canoeing on a beautiful sunny day in the Keys.  Life is rough today.  : )

Today’s picture:  a bunch of staff on the back wall during dinner, watching the sunset over the channel.

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More time, more news!

Got a break between breakfast (three days ago) and lecture, so thought I’d provide some background and more info on what my days are now.

Background:  SeaCamp was founded in 1966 as a summer camp, and is still run by (here I stopped writing and got busy again… I now continue today) Irene Hooper.  Seems like a pretty cool person, but not around very much since she’s only on the admin side of camp.  We operate as the original summer camp during the summer and as an outdoor education center during the school year.

During training our days are lecture/training three times a day everyday.  Sometimes we have science lectures, sometimes lifeguarding/CPR, sometimes Coast Guard Captains’ Workshop lectures, etc etc.  Tomorrow we get to start driving the boats!!

In the social realm, things are significantly more fun.  We had our first day off on Monday, so Sunday night we went out to bars in Key West and went dancing and exploring since most of us haven’t been there before.  Then Monday we slept in (because most days we’re up at 0730) and went to the park after scrounging breakfast at Tom Thumb’s (since we hadn’t yet made a grocery run).  We laid out in the sun, threw around a frisbee and a football, and some people played bocce but I was too excited for frisbee to bother learning bocce.  Maybe next time.  I did bring my slackline to the park with us but failed to find suitable trees…  I’ll have to try the other park on the island.  After the park we went to a dockside restaurant for early dinner (coconut-friend shrimp, delicious) and then later went to an old bridge to hang out with a guitar and stories and star-gazing.  The stars here are great since there isn’t very much light-pollution, we even saw a few shooting stars!

All in all, I love it here.  I love being busy all the time, having good intelligent science-y people to hang out with, the sun, the water, the relaxed lifestyle… it’s great.  Things are expensive here though so I’ll have to start watching my money, and my room is rather small for four girls, but those are minor.  I love this place already.

Miss you all, thanks for reading and commenting!  Love from the Keys!  ❤

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Sat here for a minute looking at the screen, realized I have to go to Captain’s Workshop, will write later.

Back from Captain’s Workshop, I’m daydreaming about taking out Triteia with some St. Mary’s kids like beach week last May.  : )

Life here is rapidly becoming defined by meals.  Breakfast at 8am, then training, lunch at 12:30, then training, dinner at 6pm, then training, then bed.  Thankfully the food is pretty good here!  Best meal so far was pulled pork barbeque, black beans, yellow rice, and cinnamon baked pineapple.

We went out to dinner a few nights ago when several interns had the night off.  We went to No Name Pub, apparently pretty famous, which has autographed dollar bills all over the walls and ceiling.  Got a calzone the size of my head and some good beer too.  Then we relocated to the local dive bar (think Green Door) for more beers and pool and darts.  Good times were had by all.  We seem to have pretty good group here, all of the interns and teachers are in their 20s and us new interns have been warmly welcomed into the group.  Everyone gets along really well.

As for students, our first four schools are in the process of checking out to go home right now.  We had some cold weather so a lot of plans were cancelled or changed, but we had fun and managed to get out on the boats yesterday when the weather picked up a bit.  We interns took our swim test this week before the weather improved and let me tell you, 51-degree water is NOT appropriate for my dinky little 3mm wetsuit.  Apparently by May the water will be in the 80s though so it should be warmer soon.

Today’s picture, a sunset off the back wall looking toward Key West.

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Day One

Day one of training!

So here I am, just after lunch on Monday, the first day of training.  Usually Monday will be our day off for the next six weeks during our official training period.  Our first group of kids comes tomorrow, so we’ll start shadowing classes.

I arrived last night around 4pm, having driven from home to Jacksonville on Saturday, then Jacksonville to my new home on Big Pine yesterday.  LONG days.  But Oliver (my car!) held up well and appreciated the car wash I stopped for in Homestead.

So far we’re just doing general orientation stuff, tours, name games, staff policies, nothing too fancy, a lot of sitting.  It’s quite cold here, last night the low of 40 degrees was a record for our island!  I know 40 doesn’t seem that cold, but when you didn’t bring a winter coat and none of the buildings have heat…  it’s cold.  There are actually “severe weather” shelters open in the Keys for people who are too cold at home.  My sleeping bag passed the night with flying colors thankfully, and I was cozy warm.  I’m living in the student dorms (in a staff room) with three other interns who all seem really smart and like cool people (one from PA, one from NY, and one from NC, plus me).  The one from NY, Kelsey, even studied abroad in San Carlos with SFS!  Small world.  Our room is small, no closet, one chest of drawers, and three bunks.  Luckily, we only have four in the room though, so two of the bunks are empty giving us more storage space.

Hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to get into town and post this, plus make a stop at the Winn Dixie (that’s a grocery store for you northerners) for some snacks and small things I forgot.

Today’s picture:  The iguanas down here aren’t doing so well with the cold temperatures, they even get so cold that they fall out of trees!  The radio is constantly warning people not to try and help them though because they frequently wake up when some well-intentioned human has brought them inside their house or car to warm up.  This one was hanging around campus and Tommy was holding him for people to see.  (They’re an invasive species here and don’t get much sympathy from locals.)

Monday night update:  Apparently there is SOMETIMES internet in the staff lounge.  They told us there wasn’t, so we’ll see what happens…

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Happy New Year!

Happy 2010 everyone!

The packing officially begins today.  : )

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