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Below The Surface

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Supporting Lake Champlain Though Volunteering and Adventure

I love sailing on Lake Champlain. Like many folks who love Lake Champlain, I grew up playing on the water, whether fishing in a small motor boat or sailing a Sunfish with my dad. Now I spend more of my time racing larger boats like the J-27 (photo left). So, when the opportunity came up to volunteer to help raise money for the stewardship of Lake Champlain and do so while sailing, I jumped at it and haven't looked back since.

I've been volunteering for the Regatta for Lake Champlain (R4LC) since 2006 but the non-profit organization was established in 2004 to promote the health, well being, and sustainability of Lake Champlain. The R4LC raises money though the efforts of many sailors, volunteers, and lake loving corporate sponsors and individual donors through a family-friendly sailing race every July and by hosting a world-renown sailing related guest speaker in the winter. The money raised by these two events is given to non-profit organizations such as ECHO to support their mission driven Lake Champlain stewardship efforts. ECHO has been a beneficiary since 2004 and with the latest, much appreciated gift of $3,000, ECHO was able to use the money to help give discount admission to guests in need.

Come join the fun of supporting Lake Champlain and ECHO. On Thursday, March 15th the R4LC will present Brad Van Liew for the 2012 Spring Ice Breaker fund raiser event. For folks who don't know Brad, he won the prestigious 2010-11 Velux 5 Oceans solo around the world race and is the only American to do so. Thorough his AV presentation, Brad talks of grueling solos races that push physical and mental endurance to the limits, and describes what it takes to be the best. Talk about an adventure! I can't wait.
Brad Van Liew Ice Breaker details:
Where: Main Street Landing Film House, 60 Lake Street, Burlington
When: Doors open at 6PM for light food and cash bar. Show starts at 7PM.
Tickets: $20, purchase on-line at: regattaforlakechamplain.org

Photo top left:J-27, Lift Ticket sails back to Mallets Bay after the 2009 R4LC, (C) Julie Silverman/ECHO
Photo lower center: Brad Van Liew sailing his Open 60, Le Pingoui

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ECHO Goes to the Camp Fair

I attended Kids VT's annual camp fair at the Hilton last weekend and had a great time talking to families about ECHO's new summer camps.  Across the board, families were really excited that ECHO is hosting day camps this summer and expressed how much they love ECHO.  A few parents shared that they had purposefully sought out our table after seeing us on the list of camp fair attendees.  I stayed engaged the entire time chatting with kids and parents.  I also learned that next year I should bring more registrations forms, because I ran out an hour into the event!

In addition to our snazzy new camp brochures, I brought some hands-on items for kids to explore, including moose antlers, a snake skin, a turtle shell, and an owl pellet.  Guiding kids as they interacted with these objects reminded me how much I love science education.  Kids' imaginations were particularly sparked by the spine on the underside of the turtle's shell.  I would have them feel their own spines with one hand while stroking the turtle shell's with the other.  There is this amazing smile that children develop when they make a truly exciting connection that I wish I could share via photograph.  It is one of the most heart-warming experiences as an educator.

Champ's mini-me blow-up doll.
Mid-day, Champ stopped by my table wearing his full Lake Monster's uniform.  He spent some time inspecting his mini-me, a Champ blow-up doll that I had brought, and then nodded his approval.  Perusing our 2012 camp offerings, he seemed particularly interested in our "Aquatic Discovery Camp" (running 8/6 - 8/10).  It could be that Champ is into robotics and wants to take part in building an underwater R.O.V. (remotely operated vehicle) with the rest of the campers.  However, I suspect he views the camp's scheduled outing on the UVM Melosira Research Vessel as a chance for a free lunch!  Either way, I believe Champ is well beyond the camp's 4th - 5th grade age range.

In addition to "Aquatic Discovery Camp," we have five other unique camps this year that I presented that the camp fair.  I am particularly excited about the "Explore the Shore Camp" for children entering 6th - 8th grade.  We have some really amazing citizen science field projects set-up, and I met a lot of really bright middel school students at the fair, who I hope enroll.  I even sent one precocious rising 6th grader home with my dissected owl pellet at the end of the day.

To find out more about this year's camps, visit www.echovermont.org/camps.