A Summer Camp Like No Other

Imagine spending a portion of your summer on a yacht sailing the crystalline waters of the British Virgin Islands – learning tropical sailing, scuba diving, and marine biology – from some very experienced, knowledgeable and friendly folks.

This is a different kind of summer camp – a moving, “live-aboard” camp – called SeaTrek. Here, high school and college aged students live and play onboard one of several 45-foot catamaran sailing yachts equipped with the latest safety equipment and onboard technology for 21 days.

Under the watchful eyes of a professional staff, SeaTrekers take full control of their live-aboard yachts while learning seamanship, sailing, scuba diving and marine science. This hands-on instructional approach continues throughout the voyage ensuring a thorough understanding of safe yacht operation, proper scuba diving procedures, and basic marine science.

Captains Monk and Kat, owners of SeaTrek Adventures, bring a wealth of knowledge of the sea, scuba diving and youth education to the students they work with each summer.

Captain Monk has 10 years experience on live-aboard dive vessels, having worked in the Bahamas, the US and British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Mexico, Florida, Australia, Costa Rica and Hawaii. He has developed and directed several school age diving programs in conjunction with Texas A&M University and San Jacinto College. Monk worked extensively with Texas A&M’s Biology Department and The Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary as a research diver and dive supervisor.

Captain Kat currently teaches Environmental Science at the University of Michigan. She is an expert on island formation and geology, a photographer and a bit of a historian. She is an avid sailor, having led three previous adventure voyages, as well as having three years experience with world class live-aboard dive vessels. Kat has ten years experience diving the Great Lakes, Mexico, the British Virgin Islands and Hawaii.

Monk and Kat Both hold United States Coast Guard 100ton Masters Licenses and are both Instructor Trainers for the National Association of Underwater Instructors, CPR/1st Aid Instructors, and Divers Alert Network (DAN) Oxygen First Aid Instructors.

“”Our biggest thing is safety – making sure that the kids come home safe. We travel all across the US to meet parents in person prior to each trip. We hire the best sailing, diving, and biology instructors available. Every student receives personal instruction through every aspect of the voyage from raising the sails to tying up your hammock at night,” said Monk.

No experience is necessary, in fact, most Trekers have never sailed or scuba dived before. To be eligible, students must be at least 13 years of age and want to learn. “We offer programs for those who have never set foot in the ocean all they way up to programs for those who have logged hundreds of dives or days under sail.” Programs range from introductory scuba, sailing and marine biology for those with no prior experience, to highly advanced training for the most experienced “Trekers.”

Alex Cohen, age 18, has been sailing with Monk going on four years. “I’ve learned more in those summers than I’ve learned anywhere. I cannot think of a better way to spend my summers – it’s a great life experience.” Now an employee of SeaTrek, Alex says the leadership skills he has developed through his experience sailing with Monk have prepared him well for his professional goals, which include a career in medicine.

While learning to scuba dive, students are also led by the onboard naturalist and marine biologist on a variety of learning experiences. “We have a full time biologist that works to introduce kids to biology. We offer a unique program where students can obtain school credit for completing a project while on the expedition,” said Monk, of the program that offers an impressive 2:1 student teacher ratio.

The culmination of the journey is when all students actively participate in operating the yacht themselves. “One of the biggest goals of each journey is that the students will be able to operate the 45-foot catamaran for 6 hours by themselves – this is the ultimate level of excitement and learning.”

To add to this exciting adventure, each SeaTrek vessel comes fully equipped with a kayak, windsurfer, kneeboard, wakeboard, water skis, and speedboat in tow. Although their programs are centered on water-based activities, each Trek also includes ample adventures ashore. SeaTrekers hike through old-growth rainforests, explore rocky inter-tidal areas, learn island culture from the locals, play beach volleyball, and even dance into the night.