Odyssey Adventure Club owner Steve Waterman offers outdoor summer camps with an educational and personal growth mindset.
Brightly colored kayaks glided effortlessly atop the Tomoka River as their captains pointed them toward the boat ramp at Sanchez Park in Ormond Beach. The Odyssey adventure camp kayakers launched the fourth week-long summer camp of the season on Monday, July 12.
Odyssey Adventure Club owner Steve Waterman has been an educator for 27 years. In 2007, he started the adventure camps with the concept of utilizing them as a platform to get children outside and interacting with the environment while participating in a myriad of outdoor activities. 12 children attended a one-week camp that inaugural year. 14 successful years later, there are six weeks of camps, over 200 campers and a waitlist of approximately 75 kids. Camps fill-up by the end of April every year. Waterman attempted to expand the number of camps he offered to offset the waitlist but discovered that it became too impersonal. Having 30 campers makes it easy for him to remember everyone’s name and get to know their individual personalities. He decided to cap it at 30-35 campers per week with 6-7 camps offered per summer.
“Everything we do is educational,” Waterman said. “All of my counselors are school teachers. We definitely approach everything we do here with a growth mindset.”
Camp weeks begin with a 10-minute meeting at Fortunato Park to go over the hard rules or ‘non-negotiables’: 1. No horseplay, and 2. No being disrespectful to people, places or things. The fourth week is an adventure camp that starts with a day of kayaking, paddle board and water games at Sanchez Park which is located just east of U.S. Highway 1. As the week unfolds, kids will have the opportunity to participate in ice skating, rock climbing, disc golf, an extended paddle board session with the massive 1200 lb capacity “Megaladon” and the final day which usually includes a trip to Alexander Springs.
“I really love this camp,” 12-year-old Lauren Lancing said. “I participate in four different sports. Track is my favorite. This camp teaches perseverance. It’s hard and tiring but we still push through which transfers over to my running.”
This summer, Waterman is also offering STEM camps through his new school—Modern Minds Learning. Camps delve into science, physics, engineering and robotics while encouraging children to take initiative, collaborate, and apply solutions to potentially real world situations. During the school year, the curriculum is also STEM focused and is taught in conjunction with outdoor education.
“Awareness is the most important factor,” Waterman said. “By taking them outside and doing our environmental education with them, they see the environment. They see all the species we are trying to protect. They see all the estuaries we want to be clean and the oyster beds we want to be healthy. We want them to know the impact of climate change and what they can do to make a difference. After, I am gone, it will be up to them.”