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Big Island hosts science camp for teens

February 19, 2014 - 12:05am

Science Camps of America will once again hold two separate camp sessions on the Big Island for area teens entering grades eight through 12 who have a passion for science. The camp launched last summer to provide opportunities for teenagers to get out and “do” science rather than just reading about it in a textbook.

“I was inspired to start Science Camps of America in what was truly a ‘walking in the woods’ moment,” said Michael Richards, camp founder and executive director. “I was hiking with my grandchildren and realized that sharing my love of nature and science with those two boys was just the best thing ever. And if I loved sharing it with them, and they loved learning it, then why not do the same for dozens, hundreds or even thousands of young people?”

The camp home base will be at the Pahala Plantation Cottages in Ka‘u. Campers will get the chance to explore the environmental diversity that the Big Island has to offer from beaches to rain forests to snow-covered mountains. Some of the destinations include Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Mauna Lani Sea Turtle Restoration Project, Mauna Kea Visitor Center, U.S. Geological Survey’s Mauna Loa Climate Observatory and Punaluu Black Sand Beach.

The first camp session, Land and Sea, will be held June 29 to July 8 and focus on volcanology, geology and oceanography. Campers will explore Hawaii’s unique flora and fauna and learn how events in the natural world affect every living creature, including humans.

The second session, Air and Space, will be held July 8 to 17 and focus on astronomy, climatology and alternative energy. Campers will gain a better understanding of climate change and the creation and use of alternative energy to help curb global warming.

Richards sold his software company in 2010 and tapped his former geology teacher, Floyd McCoy, to be the nonprofit’s director of education and help create the camp’s curriculum. McCoy, a Big Island native, is a professor of geology and oceanography at Windward Community College. McCoy is a highly regarded scientist and educator and has appeared on specials for National Geographic, BBC, TLC, NBC and Discovery.

To extend this experience to more teens, Science Camps of America, a Hawaii-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, offers a limited amount of financial aid and also welcomes contributions from the public to the Science Camp Scholarship Fund. To help out or to learn more about and register for Science Camps of America, visit

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