The ECU Outer Banks Campus was a little bit louder this summer while camps were in session, and the hallways were often filled with bursts of laughter and incessant whispering. The 2022 summer camp season saw a total of 81 individuals come through our doors, and many of those campers participated in two or more sessions. Over eight weeks, four different STEAM-focused themes were offered, giving students plenty to choose from when registering earlier this spring.

“There was so much variety offered through camp this summer,” said instructor Lauren Kerlin. “It was inspiring each week to welcome learners of different ages, interests, and levels of expertise on Monday and then send them off for the last time on Friday with plenty of new knowledge, experience, and stories of their time at CSI.”

Coastal Kingdoms focused on marine biology and ecology and highlighted the highly complex balance of coastal habitats all around the Outer Banks. Campers learned about plankton and the intricacy of food webs; listened as local scientists and ecosystem experts shared of their own experiences and careers; enjoyed time in the Croatan Sound; and explored Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge’s paddling loop and wildlife trail.

Legends of the Atlantic was the camp for the curious explorer. Campers in this session started off the week by learning “the basics”- what it means to be a maritime archeologist on land and in the water; boat building history in northeastern North Carolina; causes of shipwrecks and why they are so important to preserve. In the process, campers built their own model boats to race, tried on dive gear, mapped a one-tenth scale wreck on land, and even took a video call from a NOAA’s Monitor National Marine Sanctuary maritime archaeologist.

Coastal Kingdoms campers explored Oregon Inlet and collected samples along the way. Before releasing all of their finds, the campers would examine the many different species of organisms that live there.

The Oriental, the Metropolis, or the USS Huron? Which ship is it? Campers used the skills of maritime archeologists to gather clues and determine which Outer Banks wreck was this one-tenth-scale, 2D model.

For those who were more artistically inclined, Shapes in Science proved to be so fun and engaging, allowing campers to experience coastal and marine science in a new way. Each morning, campers learned about an ongoing science-related effort happening on campus. Then, in the afternoon, the campers completed an art project that corresponded to the morning’s featured topic. They sculpted waves, traversed local ecosystems to find the perfect nature photo-op, identified and pressed plants for a mosaic, created nature-inspired choreography, and more! After a full week of art and science, the campers ended their week by hosting a gallery for their friends, family, and CSI faculty and staff.

Last but certainly not least, Sustainable Seas was a big hit for those interested in both sustainable livelihoods at the coast and discovering what lies beneath the sea surface. Each day began with the exploration of a basic science concept or research technique followed by the introduction of an advanced technology that makes a scientific job easier and often more fascinating. This session was especially designed with budding coastal engineers in mind, and it featured activities such as collecting data for monitoring shorelines, modeling electric micro-grids, and designing and testing wind turbines and wave energy converters.

Campers visited Nags Head Woods to collect samples for their plant mosaics and put their new dichotomy and identification knowledge to the test.

It’s not all just fun and games. These Snap Circuit toy kits proved to be an incredibly useful aid while learning about power grid systems and the advantages of microgrids.

All summer and even after camp ended, reviews of the season were positive. As one grandparent wrote, “[The girls] are still talking about CSI camp! They had an amazing experience and learned a variety of skills while having fun…. They are already asking me about next year.”

As for Summer 2023, the planning of themes and dates has only just begun, but after a few weeks’ rest, the CSI Education and Outreach team is already excited to dig in again. Those interested in attending camp next year should stay tuned for details, but in the meantime, mark their calendars for the opening of registration on March 1, 2023.

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.



Based at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) advances inter-disciplinary marine energy solutions across UNC System partner colleges of engineering at NC State University, UNC Charlotte, and NC A&T University.  Click on the links below for more information.




ECU's Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU's Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


Tour the ECU Outer Banks Campus and learn about the research, education, and engagement projects of CSI and ECU Integrated Coastal Programs through our 360 virtual tour.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.