Girls Get IT camp buoys surfing, science skills
By ANNIE MARTIN, Staff Writer
As waves crash onto the sand, a dozen girls sit at a picnic table under a canopy at Si Como No INN on A1A in Flagler Beach.
Despite temperatures deep in the 90s and a smoky haze in the air, the girls were learning about how airplanes and hot air balloons fly.
Later that morning, they would be hitting the waves on surfboards or paddleboards.
The unusual mix of science and surf lessons has drawn about 50 girls from throughout the state for its two sessions, which began last week and finish up this week.
The Girls Get IT Surf and Science camp is back for its second year, drawing more than 100 applications from girls in eighth through 12th grades. The camp challenges "the societal norm that science is for boys," said Douglas Beaven, camp director.
"It is a very odd combination, but it is one that works," he said.
The opportunity to try surfing was a big draw for Geraldine Jeannot.
"I wasn't able to stand yet but I caught a few waves," the 13-year-old said.
The girls saw a dolphin while they were kayaking on the first day of camp, she said.
Geraldine said she's interested in environmental and animal science. She sees herself as a veterinarian one day.
She hopes to take more science, technology and math classes at Matanzas High School, where she'll be a freshman in the fall.
"I'm really good at making iMovies and anything with computers, I'm really good at," she said.
The camp was open to members of Girls Get IT groups in grades eight through 12 across the state. More than a dozen schools have Girls Get IT programs, which "doesn't cost the school or organization a penny except their time and talent."
Club activities consist of science-related endeavors, such as building robots and solar ovens, exploring alternative energy, visiting the local humane society, learning about rockets and aviation and raising chicks.
Locally, Buddy Taylor and Indian Trails middle schools and Belle Terre Elementary School have Girls Get IT programs.
Girls Get IT is part of the Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida's Graduates, which includes a number of other statewide programs, including Jobs for Florida's Graduates, VOICE and SUPERB. The Flagler Beach-based organization uses state and federal funds and corporate and private donations.
Camp activities include time with the Whitney Lab's Living Lab Touch Tank and NASA educators.
Mckenzie Bowles, a second-year camper, said she especially liked the optional sunrise surf sessions, which start at 6:15 a.m.
"It's just us and the ocean," Mckenzie said. "Nobody else is on the beach yet."
Mckenzie, 15, said she wants to study sports medicine or biology. She plans to take first responders and sports medicine classes at Flagler Palm Coast High School and dual enroll at Daytona State College in the fall.
The Girls Get IT organizers are hoping more girls will consider science-related careers like Geraldine and Mckenzie.
"Our hope is we get them excited about careers and (science, math and technology)," Beaven said. "More girls are graduating college now than ever ... but they're not going into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields."