Acadia Institute of Oceanography marine science camp
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Marine Science Summer Camps at Acadia Institute of Oceanography

AIO introduces young people to the exciting world of marine science through a unique hands-on curriculum that combines biological, physical and chemical oceanography with field, classroom, offshore, and laboratory work.  As you will learn, we're not your typical marine science summer camp!

Every summer, more than 200 young people attend AIO from all over the United States and around the world. Students attend sessions limited to 44 students and spend two exciting weeks (intermediate and advanced programs) working together with our experienced staff.  

While one group of students finishes a profile of the beach, another group collects specimens for the cold water tanks in our wet lab. Still other students might be busy focusing their binoculars on offshore seabirds and cetaceans. Each evening our staff or visiting speakers present special lectures that provide background information for the field activities, and mini-seminars about topics in oceanography are offered daily before dinner. There are also optional morning lessons in laboratory techniques. And all students design and maintain a saltwater aquarium.

At the heart of the AIO program is a qualified core of educators trained in the field of oceanography. These are classroom teachers, practicing scientists, and researchers -- many with advanced graduate degrees. Careers in marine science are competitive and our strong hands-on, educational program can make you a knowledgeable steward for the oceans while giving you an edge in today's job market. The student to instructor ratio is approximately four to one. Other staff members include a full-time nurse, a professional chef, recreation coordinator, and interns.

The 2022 programs are currently full but each session is accepting wait list registrations.  Follow the instructions to register to add your name to the wait list and you'll be contact when a space becomes available.

crab survey
Squid dissection

Where is AIO? Why Maine?

AIO is located in the picturesque, seaside village of Seal Harbor, Maine, on Mount Desert Island.

Mount Desert Island -- also home to Acadia National Park -- is the perfect marine science summer camp to study ocean ecology because the cool Labrador Current brings minerals from the north to feed the food chains of coastal Maine. Waters are rich in plankton and there are many species of fish and marine mammals. Offshore dredges yield sediments full of benthic life. Rivers and estuaries serve as ocean nurseries. Rocky tidal pools shelter invertebrates and small fish. And mud flats and marshes present new environments and species for study. All of these diverse environments are within a few miles of AIO.

We are...
across the street from Acadia National Park...
3 blocks from the town pier, beach and the Gulf of Maine...
1 mile from wetlands, lakes and ponds
5 miles from a fjord...
20 miles from whales...
278 miles from Boston...
484 miles from New York City…
1700 miles from Miami...

Sand Beach - Acadia National Park
Lobster Boats
Jordan Pond
Acadia National Park
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse
Jordan Pond and "The Bubbles"

Our Marine Science Camp Programs

{ click on any program for more information }

Program Location: Seal Harbor, Maine
Program Dates: June 18-23, 2023 (full for 2023)
Typical Student Age Group: Ages 10-12
Program Location: Seal Harbor, Maine
Program Dates: June 25-July 7 (full; waitlist available) and August 6-18, 2023 (space for males only: contact the director to put a female on the waitlist)
Typical Student Age Group: Ages 12-15
Program Location: Seal Harbor, Maine
Program Dates: July 9-21 (full for 2023) and July 23-August 4, 2023 (full for 2023)
Typical Student Age Group: Ages 15-19
Prerequisites: 1 year of high school science (with lab component is preferred)
AIO Marine Science Camp - Tropical Program
Program Location: Belize
Program Dates: November 18-26, 2023
Typical Student Age Group: Ages 15-19
Prerequisites: AIO Advanced Program
AIO Marine Science Camp - Florida Program
Program Location: Florida
Program Dates: November 22-27, 2024
Typical Student Age Group: Ages 14-19
Prerequisites: Exemplary completion of Intermediate or Advanced session and 14 years of age by start of program.

Beyond our core marine science camp programs, we offer students the chance to explore their collegiate options during the advanced sessions with college tours and meetings with the scientists of the Jackson Lab and Mt. Desert Island Biological Lab, both of whom offer internships to high school and college age students. Several AIO students have participated in these highly competitive internships.

The caliber of our students is so well respected that College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine, offers $10,000/year scholarships to any AIO student who is accepted into their program with a recommendation from one of our Directors. For students interested in earning college credits we offer our first advanced session for 4-credits through the University of Maine Machias. Credits are transferable to any college or university that accepts outside credits.

Accommodations and Recreation

AIO is housed in the vintage 1931 Dunham Schoolhouse, built by John D. Rockefeller as a gift to the village of Seal Harbor. A classic American red brick schoolhouse, the building has been carefully restored and updated to offer clean and comfortable accommodations. Three of the large classrooms have been converted into open dormitories and students sleep on bunk beds. The schoolhouse also includes a lecture hall, recreation room, a research wet laboratory, library, director's office, nurse's office, dining room, bathrooms, and showers.  You can watch video tour of the facility here.

The academic schedule is designed to allow time each day for recreational activities such as hiking in Acadia National Park, swimming, group games, and visits to local laboratories and museums. And there is plenty of free time to read, write letters, socialize, and relax.

Cheering games
Hanging Out
PIcnic Table
Day Mountain summit

Check out our Programs!

check out AIO marine science camp programs
Learn more about our Intro, Intermediate and Advanced marine science camps.

AIO Tuition 101

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Everything you need to know about AIO tuition and any additional costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Get answers to FAQs we are often asked from Allergies to Schedules...