Guppy Ocean Adventure Camp
Our Guppy Ocean Safety Adventure Camp takes place on Wrightsville, Kure, and Topsail beaches and is designed for children ages 6 to 10. During this week-long Wilmington summer camp, kids learn about ocean safety and multiple components of our amazing coastal environment.
We know that a child’s first experiences with the ocean will shape their attitude towards it for the rest of their lives. In our “learn-by-doing” Guppy Camps, kids will learn how waves are formed, when and where it is safest to enter the ocean, warning signs of ocean/weather dangers, how to stay safe while at the beach, and many other facets of cool marine life education.
Participants will also learn about ocean safety, which raises young beach goers’ levels of awareness and instills ocean safety practices that can be applied to every beach in the world, such as rip current identification and awareness, marine life education, surf advisories, and more. Your child will leave our Guppy Summer Camp with a basic understanding of ocean dynamics, water safety, sun protection, and basic first aid skills. The only requirement is that campers are able to swim, and ready to have lots of fun!
Download our Kids Summer Camp catalog HERE
- Extensive daily boogie board and water sport instruction
- Guided interactive tour of the North Carolina Aquarium
- Observing turtle rehabilitation at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital
- Salt marsh exploration: fishing, seining, crabbing, and clamming
- Learning to play the ukulele
- Unlimited photos taken by our staff photographer available.
- 4:1 camper-to-counselor ratio
- Junior Ocean Safety classes and certification
- Enrollment limited to 16 students per session
Guppy Camp is Monday through Friday, from 8:30AM – 4:00PM. Campers can be dropped off and picked up at our Wrightsville Beach office location. To accommodate busy parents, late pickup is available until 5:30pm for an additional charge of $50 for the entire week. These camps are filled on a first come/first serve basis.
Tuition includes American Red Cross Lifeguard/CPR/First Aid certified counselor instruction, daily transportation to all activities, activity fees, Sea Turtle Hospital tour and donation, admission and tour of NC Aquarium, rash guard, all equipment, certificate of achievement, and memorable group photo. NOTE: This is not a surfing program and surfing will not be an activity in these camps.
It’s 8:30 am and today begins your child’s week-long adventure exploring the Wilmington coast and its different habitats. The Guppies start the day in true summer fashion – heading to Wrightsville Beach for boogie board and ocean safety instruction. As they cross the dunes amid swaying grasses, they get their first glimpse of the waiting ocean. Under the shade of our tent we get to know each other and go over beach and ocean safety before beginning supervised time in the water either boogie boarding, swimming, or body surfing. We will never exceed a 4:1 camper to instructor ratio.
After a picnic on the beach, Guppies trade playing in the water for playing in a band as they head to the North Carolina Ukulele Academy. Together your keiki (child) and his or her new friends are taught how to strum the ukulele, while also learning about Hawaiian culture and the traditional songs from the islands.
We start off by road-tripping to the Kure Beach Pier where your child tries to reel in “the big one.” Students will learn proper fishing technique, local fish species, and the importance of estuaries. The vantage point from the pier also provides a unique opportunity to identify and discuss other species found at the beach – from the highest flying pelicans to the smallest crawling hermit crabs.
After lunch at the Recreation Area, we’re off to the Fort Fisher Aquarium. Here Guppies interact with horseshoe crabs and sea stars as they learn about the life of the spineless (invertebrates, in science-speak). By day’s end, your child will be reciting all the animals they saw, especially Luna, the Aquarium’s albino alligator. We finish the day at the beach for a final ocean session playing in the waves with our new appreciation for marine life.
We’re half-way through our week of adventure. Today your child will travel a short distance from Wilmington up to Topsail Beach to begin Junior First Aid certification. Afterwards, students will learn about animals that live in the intertidal zone. We will also talk about something that seems impossible – the movement of an island. Barrier islands move and change shape throughout the years and your child will learn how that is possible.
Following a beach picnic, the Guppies will come face-to-face with real-life superheroes. We will tour the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital in its brand new facility. Here your child will see various species of sea turtles that have been rescued by Animal Planet’s Hero of the Year, Jean Beasley, for rehabilitation. After an incredible afternoon with some amazing creatures, we drive back to Wrightsville Beach thinking about the ways that we can help the sea turtles.
Today, we will continue our Junior First Aid certification. Your child will participate in several different hands-on, certification activities designed to make them helpful in times of emergency. Following training, we’ll enjoy our waning beach time with more boogie boarding. For those that are feeling a bit waterlogged with all the ocean time, we will have staff directed beach activities.
After lunch, the Guppies will traverse a barrier island, from the ocean to the marsh. Having previously learned about animals that live on the beaches, we will now see where some start out life – in the estuary. Using seine and cast nets, your junior marine biologist will learn about different organisms and the adaptations that allow them to thrive in that environment. We will also try and uncover some of the critters buried in the sediment as we go crabbing and clamming.
We’ll travel inland to Greenfield Lake, a 90-acre freshwater lake including cypress swamp and wetland habitats. It also offers an amazing habitat for migratory birds. We’ll enjoy the scenery from the comfort of our paddleboat as we search the trees and water’s edge for birds and other wildlife. Despite the beauty of this setting, Greenfield does suffer from eutrophication – excess nutrients from runoff – which we’ll discuss, along with different methods to control it.
After Greenfield Lake, we visit Airlie Gardens to eat lunch and take part in an environmental activity with the county’s water quality department. Afterwards we head back to where it all started – the beach. After one last boogie boarding session, we will return your Guppy to you. But we may see them again very soon – many Guppies finish their adventure by asking their parents if they can return to camp the next week, so be prepared!
Zach, Wilmington, NC – Beck came home and gave us presentations based on the stuff he had learned each day, sometimes even making his own pollution models. He loved pulling the seine nets in the Intracoastal. We had to go to the store and buy our own! Out of four camps this summer, Guppy Camp was Beck’s favorite. He’s still wearing his rash guard! Awesome!
Erin, Wilmington, NC – So glad we did this Wilmington camp towards the end of the summer! My son would have been highly disappointed with his camps the rest of the summer if we did this one first! He had an absolute blast and wants to do it for 2 weeks next summer. I am quite the nervous mother and felt 100% confident leaving him every day. Your staff is absolutely amazing and so positive and upbeat! This exceeded all expectations!
Anne, Apex, NC – Guppy Camp was without a doubt, the best summer camp experience my 7 and 9 year-old boys had this year. Not only did they get to have fun boogie boarding and enjoying NC’s beautiful beaches, but they also equally enjoyed all of the educational opportunities they were exposed to. I was impressed with the organization, maturity and positive attitudes of the counselors as well. Just re-enforces that you get what you pay for. An overall awesome experience.
Anne, Raleigh, NC – We come to Wrightsville every summer for 2 weeks from Raleigh. We do Guppy Camp the first week, and the second week they are so comfortable in the water, it makes it so much more enjoyable the rest of our time.
Caroline, Charlotte, NC – Our daughter has participated in guppy camp for 3 summers now, and our son was finally able to join her this year. We live out of town, but spend time here in the summer. Guppy Camp is by far the FAVORITE camp of our family (and we’ve done a few!) Everything is handled so professionally on the registration end, and the kids absolutely love it. The counselors are amazing each summer and I cannot say enough kind things about them!! The activities are varied and hold their interest. Their love of the beach and the ocean is magnified each time they finish a week. They leave teaching us about all they have learned.
Joannie, Bunnlevel, NC – “I was very skeptical about letting Jack go because he had a few surgeries and hospital stays but Guppy Camp staff reassured me that all would be fine, and Jack insisted on going. I eventually gave in and said yes. Let me tell you that was the best thing I could do for him. Jack gained knowledge of the ocean, ocean safety, marine life, and values of respect as well. He asks me all the time to not forget and sign him up next year. This really helped him grow a lot. I am pleased with the program, its foundations, its staff and my boy’s new knowledge of the ocean that he shares with everyone. Thanks Guppy Camp for helping make my boy’s summer a happy, healthy and fun one.”
Margaret, Wilmington, NC – “When the week of Surf Camp was coming to an end my daughter expressed concern that she only had one day of camp left and was sad stating it had gone by too fast. I explained to her that time flies when you’re having fun and tends to go by more slowly when you are not. She questioned, “So what if I say I am not having fun at Surf Camp then it will go by more slowly?” Wrightsville Beach Surf Camp speaks for itself. It has energetic, knowledgeable kid friendly instructors, well organized environmental activities throughout the coastal community, and most importantly a founder who has changed the lives of many…one Guppy at a time.”
Kimberly, Hampstead, NC – “I was really nervous to leave the children in someone else’s care while they were in the ocean waves. However, after the first drop off, my nervousness subsided. Rusty was very personable and confident and it was clear that he enjoyed the job. The children learned so much and even taught me some things throughout the week! Thanks so much to Rusty and the team! See you next year!”
Frank, Wilmington, NC – “It was a great experience; I liked it a lot. I even made a new friend. The Sea Turtle Hospital was my favorite.”
Cristin, Raleigh, NC – “My son came home so excited every day to tell us about the great things he did at Guppy Camp. They do such a variety of activities and teach the kids so much that you really get your money’s worth.”
Judy, Norfolk, VA – “Absolutely wonderful experience. Our guppy came home everyday excited to share the day’s events. The organization, detailed registration information, and quality instruction were a great comfort to me. I felt confident that she would be safe and that the student/instructor ratio made it possible for personalized attention. Excellent self esteem building. Thank you so much and we hope to be involved again next year!!!!”
Ellen, Columbia, SC – “This experience was an awesome way for Danielle to end the summer. She was very excited about the relationships that she built with the counselors. They were very supportive of her which makes a difference in a child’s life who has been through some very difficult times over the past 2 years. THANKS!”
Danielle, Wilmington, NC – “My son did guppy camp when he was 6 and when my daughter asked to do the camp we signed her up. She loved everything about Guppy Camp. Everyday I would pick her up, she would hug the instructors and then she would share with me everything she did… and always start and end the conversation with “I want to go to surf camp everyday FOREVER.” And when I would tell her that it was only 5 days, she would beg for me to make it longer 😉 Before the camp, my daughter always had to have someone in the ocean with her (to tell her which waves to grab and for comfort)… now she has the confidence to grab her boogie board and hit the waves!”
Ethan, Wilmington, NC – “I have been to guppy camp for the past two years and I’m not a small guppy fish anymore. Yes, I am almost eight years old and I have already become a “big fish” thanks to Guppy Camp. We did a lot of other fun stuff too. Like we saw the turtle hospital, played a ukulele, visited Fort Fisher Aquarium, and I saw crabs, stingrays & even touched a flounder…way cool! Most of the time we were on the beach or in the water, but we always had an awesome, long day from early in the morning until late in the afternoon. Well, I guess I still have a lot to learn. I plan to go to Surf Camp next summer. I bet all you guppies out there will have a blast like I did but, just try not to get upset about leaving camp on the last day. It was hard for me to hold back the tears that final day. I just had to keep in my head…I’ll be back!”
Guppy Camp FAQs
- No. Guppy Camp is an introduction into the ocean and becoming comfortable with its waves, which is why we’re only boogie boarding and staying in close to the beach. If your child already has some surf experience and is comfortable on a surf board then check out our Kids Day Surf Camp.
Are there any requirement to attend Guppy Camp?
- The only requirement is that your camper is able to swim. Our instructors will work with them to further develop their comfort in the water over the course of the week.
Where does the camp take place?
- Guppy Camp drop off takes place at our beach office at SurfBerry on Harbor Island at Wrightsville Beach. While at camp our campers are constantly on the move. From Access #4 on Wrightsville Beach for boogie boarding down to the aquarium at Ft Fisher and up to the Sea Turtle Hospital on Topsail Island. Each day is different, with planned marine education activities around the Wilmington area. If bad weather ensues they may even take refuge at the WB Surf Camp Office and watch Finding Nemo on the big screen.
Do you provide equipment?
- All our Guppies are provided with long sleeve rash guards with SPF 50 as well as boogie boards and all the gear they’ll need for pier fishing and salt marsh crabbing and clamming.
Is there a lifeguard at the beach you use?
- All of our camp instructors hold current American Red Cross Lifeguard Certifications including CPR for the Professional Rescuer and First Aid. One might even say that we over-qualify our team with this many lifeguards. We have an impeccable safety record and are very proud of it!
What happens if conditions are unfavorable for boogie boarding on a particular day?
- To accommodate larger surf or stronger wind conditions, the Guppy counselors will incorporate fun-filled activities to educate the kids on staying safe and having fun in our ever-changing ocean. If we have to leave the beach due to lightning, we will head back to our Ogden WB Surf Camp office classroom for educational slideshows, activities, and movies. We average a 97% surfability factor during our summer season, so days are rarely missed.