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Sanibel Sea School debuts its new paddle boards in style

By Staff | Jul 1, 2015

The Sanibel Sea School’s brand new paddle boards were used for the first time by the group which paddled out to Picnic Island and spent the night, while using their newfound survival skills learned during a camp throughout the week. The group included (L to R) Front row: Jacob Lemmon, Jorgen Howell, Jake Ramsey and Metin Basturk. Back row: Michael Haughey (counselor), Luke Kalhorn, Bruce Neill (Sanibel Sea School ED), Kristen Dunavant, Aneta Szmekova, Salem Clemens, and Nicole Ogden (counselor). BRIAN WIERIMA

It was mission accomplished for the Sanibel Sea School in its quest to add an array of paddle boards to its already large arsenal of fun and educational tools for teaching about the ocean.

Twelve quality paddle boards were added after the Sea School used Indiegogo to help raise funds, in which a bevy of donations flowed in. There is also a matching grant to purchase an additional 12 boards later in the year, to put the total amount of paddle boards to 24.

Some of the cost was offset by Bic SUP paddle boards and Kia Loa Paddles, which gave the Sanibel Sea Schools discounted prices on the new items.

Eleven of the new paddle boards were broken in in style, with the inaugural float coming during a survivalist campout at Picnic Island. Eight students, two Sea School counselors (Michael Haughey and Nicole Ogden) and Executive Director Dr. Bruce Neill, paddled out to Picnic Island for an overnight stay, after the students took survivalist classes leading up to the Thursday, June 25, departure.

“The students learned such things as CPR, map-making skills, how to change a tire on a trailer, jump-starting cars and they went out to look at poisonous plants versus edible plants,” Neill said. “The only thing we are bringing out to Picnic Island are a few military MREs and two coconuts.”

The new paddle boards were being prepped by the Sanibel Sea School counselors Nicole Ogden and Michael Haughey for the big camping trip to Picnic Island Thursday, June 25. BRIAN WIERIMA

The group took off from the Causeway A Island beach on San Carlos Bay, paddled out to Picnic Island, which is a two-mile paddle in statute miles. There, they stayed overnight with no tents and with only two tarps.

Friday morning they paddled to Tarpon Bay and back to the Causeway A beach for a total of seven miles, where they took a break, before paddling to Fort Myers Beach, which is an 11-mile journey through the Gulf.

That evening on Picnic Island, the group learned how to start and keep fires going, worked on some night skills and knot-tying skills. To eat, they had to catch fission their own or eat lizards to procure some protein.

They also learned celestial navigation by reading the stars at night.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great experience,” said Sanibel Sea School student Jorgen Howell. “We are learning how to be self-reliant, while learning how to work as a team.”

Salem Clemens adds head protection from the searing sun in prep for the Sanibel Sea School camping trip Thursday, June 25, which took off from the Causeway A beach. BRIAN WIERIMA

Learning how to use the paddle boards was also on the agenda.

“We also learned how to use a compass and navigation skills,” said student Luke Kalhorn.

“The biggest concern are lightning and bugs, if we can keep those two out of the equation, we’ll be fine,” added Jacob Lemmon.

Dr. Neill had a motor boat docked at Picnic Island, in case of emergency, as well.

To learn more about the Sanibel Sea School, or to look into what kind of programs they offer or to donate, go to their website at www.sanibelseaschool.org/.

The new paddle boards of the Sanibel Sea School bask in the hot sun. BRIAN WIERIMA

?The group of eight student paddle boards, two Sanibel Sea School counselors and Executive Director, Dr. Bruce Neill, head out into the water, towards Picnic Island June 25. BRIAN WIERIMA