SMS field trip combines science with great outdoors


The anticipation of summer vacation is on the mind of many students as schools prepare for the end of the school year. Earlier this week, Selbyville Middle School students had a sneak preview of summer vacation as they teamed up with Coastal Kayak and some local residents to get a hands-on look at the area’s beaches and watershed.

Coastal Point • Chris Clark: Seblyville Middle School students, Norma Cruz and Joshua Fiddler enjoy a day off from the classroom, participating in a lifeguard exercise called ‘flags’.Coastal Point • Chris Clark
Seblyville Middle School students, Norma Cruz and Joshua Fiddler enjoy a day off from the classroom, participating in a lifeguard exercise called ‘flags’.

Roughly 150 seventh-graders from SMS took a field trip to Fenwick Island on Tuesday, June 8, to learn about the environment and get a little fresh air.

“We have a watershed unit at the beginning of the school year,” explained seventh-grade science teacher Sarah Betlejewski, who has been providing eco-tours at Coastal Kayak for the past five summers, “and this is a great way to tie everything together.”

Students were able to paddle out in kayaks along the Fenwick Island bay waters, participated in beachcombing, learned water safety skills and tried their hands at some lifeguarding exercises.

“We are able to get them outside in the fresh air and tie together a health and athletic aspect to it all,” Betlejewski added.

Students also had an opportunity to try out stand-up paddle boards – a water-sport phenomenon that has swept the West Coast and is making its move into waters along the Atlantic.

“With all the snow days that were added on,” said Betlejewski of the impact of February’s blizzards, “the kids, and myself, really needed a break. It’s nice to get away from the classroom and have them learn about nature and our beaches out here.

“There are some students who live just down the road and haven’t even been to the beach, so it’s really nice to get them out here. You don’t always realize what you can see and do until you take the time to actually do it,” she added.

Fenwick Island Town Councilman Todd Smallwood, a former lifeguard, was among those who helped organize beach activities and a presentation on water safety tips for the students.

“They discussed things that you really don’t get in a school curriculum,” said Betlejewski, “and since we live so close to the beach, it’s a great idea to have that knowledge.”

Selbyville Middle School math teacher Neil Barch also accompanied the seventh-graders on the field trip.

“It’s nice to be able to show the kids the bay and the ocean,” he said, “and it’s great to have local people taking the time out of their day to help the students enjoy their time.”

Ecological kayak and bike tours, as well as kayak and sailboat rentals, are available all summer long through Coastal Kayak, located along Coastal Highway, just north of Fenwick Island. For more information, visit www.c-kayak.com or call (302) 539-7999.