THE EARLY DAYS
Camp Ocean Pines was established in 1946 as a YMCA summer camp. It was managed by several different chapters over the years until finally, with the facilities deteriorating and debts mounting, the YMCA transferred ownership of the camp to a new, private non-profit organization made up of locals whose sole purpose would be to manage the camp. In 1998, Camp Ocean Pines became its own registered 501(c)(3) organization.
In the years after separating from the YMCA, Camp Ocean Pines tried out several different identities. It was a camp for those with special needs, then a visual and performing arts camp. After a few years, the struggling board of directors hired Chris Cameron as executive director. Chris helped to develop a focus for the camp, oversaw construction of much-needed new cabins and meeting spaces, and essentially built the new organization from the ground up. It was his passion for educating youth about the natural world that led to the creation of the Camp Ocean Pines outdoor education program, what has grown and evolved over the past 10-15 years into what is now The Coastal Institute.
THE COASTAL INSTITUTE
In August 2015, we rebranded our outdoor education program, creating a new name and a new logo to differentiate the program from our successful summer camp and adult workshops. (You can learn more about Camp Ocean Pines and its other programs by exploring the "Camp Ocean Pines" navigation tab at the top of this page.) With the rebrand, we sought to grow The Coastal Institute from a tiny science camp program to a leader in the field of coastal environmental education by expanding our program offerings. Our current goals include servings more school groups, planning and running more student adventure trips throughout the school year, and partnering with other organizations to offer adult professional development opportunities throughout the year. Stay tuned for updates as we continue to grow and develop The Coastal Institute at Camp Ocean Pines!