What to Expect on the Trip
At Shedd Aquarium, it is our mission to spark curiosity, compassion and conservation for the aquatic animal world. One of the best ways to do this is to dive directly into nature! This trip will provide teen participants with an opportunity to learn about the animals and ecology of the Great Lakes region, including – fishes, amphibians, birds and mammals, - through science investigation and exploration. Expeditioners will become one with nature as they camp for a full week on the beautiful Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Wilderness Inquiry provides camping gear, permits and expertise as groups kayak from island to island, exploring sea caves and learning about the diverse ecosystems surrounding Lake Superior. Join us as we discover the beauties of Lake Superior's natural treasures while learning about aquatic science and local wildlife in the Apostle Islands with Shedd Aquarium instructors. No camping or kayaking experience necessary!
On this trip, participants will
- Kayak to remote islands, accessed by a limited number of people each year, to camp in the wilderness
- Practice conducting science experiments and methods in the field to learn about animals
- Connect to the cultures of Native Americans of the region
- Participate in team-building activities that foster friendships and personal growth
- Have fun and make lifelong friends and memories
This program is led by Shedd Aquarium’s learning specialists, who have years of experience facilitating learning programs in a variety of outdoor settings. Each instructor is Wilderness First Aid- and Wilderness Water Safety-certified. Families will meet instructors at the program orientation. Our partner, Wilderness Inquiry, will outfit the group with all camping materials, skills and permits necessary for the trip.
This is a seven-day, six-night camping experience in Bayfield, Wisconsin, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. An orientation will precede the trip, during which parents and guardians can ask questions, and participants will get to know each other and learn more about what to expect.
Program cost includes
- Tents, camping pads, dry bags and sleeping bags for six nights of camping
- Meals and snacks each day
- Wetsuits, paddles and kayaking instruction
- Guided hikes and paddles with Shedd Aquarium’s experienced instructors
- Guided science investigations with appropriate permits
- Travel costs between Chicago and Bayfield, Wisconsin
Morning: Wake up on Sand Island. Prepare and eat oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. Gather clothing and gear up for a two-hour kayak trip to sea caves.
Afternoon: Return from sea caves, unload kayaks and change out of wetsuit. Spend time journaling before lunch. After lunch, change into hiking gear, grab digital microscopes and hand nets for an amphibian hike. Use scientific equipment to identify and document organisms to answer questions about the area.
Evening: Help prepare dinner. Gather firewood and learn how to start and tend a campfire. Reflect on the day’s discoveries. Before bed, spend time identifying stars with a telescope.
Morning: Wake up and help prepare breakfast burritos. Gear up for a hike to a historic lighthouse.
Afternoon: Hike through woodlands to the lighthouse and participate in a discussion with a National Parks Service ranger about local ecology and wildlife. Explore the lakeshore and survey organisms found nearby to compare habitats. Eat a picnic lunch at the lighthouse and hike back to camp, observing animals and plants along the way.
Evening: Conduct a beach seine near the dock to observe aquatic animals. Eat dinner, make s’mores and pack up clothing and gear for a long paddle the next day. Play games and tell stories by the campfire until bed.
We will ask participants to meet us at Shedd Aquarium early on the first day. From there, they will board the charter bus and begin the eight-hour ride to Wilderness Inquiry Basecamp, stopping along the way for lunch (purchased by Shedd). On the last day, participants will arrive back at Shedd Aquarium in the late afternoon. Please note that for safety reasons, we are unable to pick up or drop off participants at locations other than Shedd.
Hearty, healthy, teen-friendly meals and snacks are provided each day so participants can focus on learning and exploring. Wilderness Inquiry can accommodate food preferences, allergies and restrictions, including vegan and vegetarian meals. Please notify us of these in the food preference paperwork during orientation.
Participants are assigned to tents based on gender identity.
Yes, participants will have the option to shower at basecamp. Freshwater supplies at basecamp are limited, so participants will be encouraged to take quick showers only when needed to conserve water.
Payment and participant requirements
A nonrefundable deposit of $500 is due at the time of registration, and the remaining balance is due within 30 days of registration or by May 1, whichever is sooner. Registration can be completed on Shedd Aquarium’s website or by calling 312-939-2438. Please call during regular business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
To pay the balance by check, mail to:
SHEDD AQUARIUM SOCIETY
29017 NETWORK PLACE
CHICAGO, IL 60673-1290
Please include your confirmation number on the check.
No. Once we receive your payment, you are committed to this program and to making the payment in full and on time. If you decide to withdraw from this program, your payment will not be refunded. The success of this program depends on complete participation and payment from all registrants.
All travel expenses to and from the Apostle Islands are included in the program cost.
No. But students will need a government-issued photo ID.
Yes. A medical history form and waiver is required. You must have your physician approve your participation in this program and have your parent or legal guardian sign the form. YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM WITHOUT A COMPLETED AND SIGNED MEDICAL HISTORY. If you do not bring the medical form to the orientation, please mail (do not fax) or email to:
ATTN: Mari Oates, Learning Programs Department
1200 S. Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
- Hiking over uneven terrain
- Lifting and carrying activity equipment
- Being outdoors in hot/cold weather or rain
- Kayaking for 2+at least two hours at a time
Orientation takes place at Shedd Aquarium and will include information about the trip, time for questions and time to sign necessary paperwork with guardians. After this, guardians will be released, and participants will enjoy team building activities so they can make friends before the trip.
The participant and one parent or guardian are required to attend orientation. Legal guardians are only required to attend the first part of the day. Guardians will receive complimentary admission to the aquarium for the rest of the day. This is not an event for friends or siblings to attend.