NESS Summer Programs at Wuskenau Beach

July 13, 2015

On July 9, I had the opportunity to visit the NESS “Exploring RI Coast” group for students ages 6-9 at Wuskenau Beach in Westerly, Rhode Island.

When I got there, the group of 7 students and 2 instructors were sitting on a big blue mat making crab traps out of popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and straws. I was immediately impressed by the way NESS educators Julie and Emily led the lesson. There was basic instruction on how to build the “traps” but students were encouraged to get creative so no two were alike. There was no competition; rather the focus was on teamwork and a willingness to experiment in order to find solutions. When one of the students grew frustrated that his sticks weren’t banding together, Julie asked another student to help out (see picture). They were truly teaching and learning to NESS’s core values of experiential learning, personal growth, inclusiveness, and stewardship! One of my favorite moments was when the students, having already suited up in their wetsuits and brought out their ocean kayaks and paddles out two-by-two, started talking over one another in anticipation of their next adventure: trapping the crabs. Julie shouted “Banana!” In unison, the kids yelled back “Split!” and immediately gave her their full attention. When I asked her about this call-and-response technique (as opposed to just yelling “Quiet!”), she explained that it creates involvement and accountability. Plus, who doesn’t love banana splits? For more information about the Westerly offerings, visit: