Relay races on the grass, obstacle courses in the gym and salad-making competitions were just a few of the challenges youngsters took on last summer in efforts to become Ultimate Warriors at Sea Crest School’s summer camp. And kids will return to the private school in Half Moon Bay this summer for more fun.

“Every day they focus on a skill that they need to have to become the best warrior ever,” said Morgan Pierce, extended-day instructor and summer camp organizer. “Things like courage, self-discipline, perseverance, teamwork.” 

The campers tie-dye shirts and plot obstacle courses. Each “warrior” has a necklace and collects badges for completing challenges. 

The summer camp consists of races and obstacles, but Pierce emphasizes that there’s more to becoming a warrior. They have to embrace the mindset of an ultimate warrior. 

“It’s about both the body and mind of a warrior,” she said. “Eating healthy food, working as a team. They get really into it. It’s awesome.” 

For Pierce that’s what summer camps are all about: encouraging learning and enrichment, but also having fun throughout the summer when kids are off school.

Last summer, the Marine Science Ultimate Warrior Camp was part of eight weeks of camp activities hosted by teachers and staff at Sea Crest School. Kids learned about healthy food and competed against their peers in American Ninja Warrior-inspired challenges. They also made use of the marine science lab at the school and the expertise of Kate Dickey,  who is head of the school’s marine science program. Campers depicted the layers of the ocean in little spice bottles, dissected clams, and played sharks and minnows. 

“Even the kids that are super nervous about doing that kind of stuff in front of other people, it's like all of a sudden they’re all into it,” said Pierce. “It’s a team effort so it’s been really cool to see that.” 

During the summer, the school's campus bursts with music, dancing, doodling and sports, as each week offers a uniquely run experience for kids. 

“The whole thing came about because we realized this can be an opportunity for teachers to do something really fun and make some extra income running a camp over the summer. But it’s also beneficial to the community, because there are not a ton of camps, and not a ton of camps run by teachers,” said Pierce. “It’s a unique opportunity for people to come see the campus and get to utilize the spaces.”

Last summer, Sea Crest hosted over 100 students at its camps. 

“I think it's really critical that all schools, if they have the means, provide a service for a safe and fun and engaging and hands-on experience for kids to have over the summer months,” said Lauren Miller, head of Sea Crest School. “We have lots of working parents at our school and in our community, and it's a service that we really want to provide for the kids. What’s awesome is that it's screen-free, it's primarily outdoors, it's hands-on. It's really based in curiosity and creativity.”

Sea Crest’s camps are not limited to Sea Crest students, and organizers encourage all kids to come join. 

“We love that it's open for all kids on the coast,” said the head of school. Pierce said that one of her biggest goals is for the kids to make new friends. That is a unique opportunity provided by summer camps, which is why she is excited that the camps are made up of kids from all over the community.

“The ultimate goal is for them to have fun, make memories, learn something,” she said. 

Pierce, a mother of three, emphasized the value of camps and getting kids out of the house and away from screens during the summer. 

“We want them out doing things where they’re learning and having fun,” she said. “They may get to learn things they never thought they were going to get to, just from being exposed to different, new things and new people and new ideas.” 

Pierce also mentioned the benefits of an alternative summer camp structure for children who struggle in the classroom environment. 

“There are some kids that struggle in a classroom environment but in a summer camp environment totally thrive, because the structure isn't the same. But, hopefully, we can plant seeds for school to be even more fun in their minds,” she said. 

Emma Spaeth is a staff writer for the Half Moon Bay Review covering community, arts and sports. Emma grew up in Half Moon Bay before earning a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Oregon.

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