Birmingham’s AP Environmental Science Class Explores Catalina Island

Kristy Pinedo, Managing Editor

On November 16, 2022, BCCHS students prepared for an exciting three-day, once-in-a-lifetime experience with their classmates to Catalina Island on November 14-16.

Mrs. Baker, one of our fantastic instructors at Birmingham, was the one who made this trip to Catalina’s CIMI camp (Catalina Island Marine Institute) possible. This trip aimed to teach and educate students about the ocean and Catalina Island.

The original number of open seats was around 100, but only 39 students attended. This trip was only available to AP Environmental Science students, so the low number of students wasn’t surprising. Though the sparked excitement in many students, several decided not to come because they feared falling behind in their assignments from other classes.

When asking a fellow student who went on the trip, Daisy Rafael (11), what her original doubts about the trip were, she stated, “Some of my doubts before going on the trip were the amount of school I was going to miss.” Another reason students decided not to come was because of their phones. In an era when students are glued to their mobile devices, the requirement of not carrying electronic devices was a no-go for some. After some discussion with the camp instructors, CIMI allowed students phones, but there was no service. Even with this potential drawback, the students who attended had a rewarding experience. 

Melibe, one of Catalina Island’s permanent residents (photo taken by Kristy Pinedo)

CIMI combines a sense of fun and science, allowing you to have fun while also learning– they also have a dog on the island named Melibe! Snorkeling, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, team building, labs, campfires, and overall gaining a sense of community are among the activities available to visitors.

CIMI has different welcoming ports where schools are dropped off and Birmingham’s was Fox Landing. According to CIMI’s official website (, “Fox Landing is tucked inside the protection of Long Point, just 5 miles from Avalon, and is ideal for exploring the ocean. This vibrant facility is located in a private cove facing the California mainland. Despite being only 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, it will feel like a different world!” This rings true! When you get there, it’s a completely different experience: clear blue ocean water, nice fresh breezes, and no unnecessary noises like cars or people– it puts you in a peaceful, worry-free state.

View of CIMI camp from Fox Landing’s Bible Peak Mountain (photo taken by Kristy Pinedo)

CIMI was entertaining as Birmingham students had the opportunity to participate in a variety of exciting activities at Fox Landing including rock climbing, snorkeling, and even a campfire at night.

Birmingham students also had a chance to bond more with their fellow friends since everyone was put into cabins with a specific number of occupants in each one. My favorite activities included rock climbing, which was terrifying for me as a first-timer, hiking to Fox Landings Mountain’s “Bible Peak” in the afternoon (which was exhausting), and snorkeling where we got to see leopard sharks and Garibaldis (California’s state fish) in their natural habitat.

Some other things I enjoyed while at Catalina were that there was nothing to really cause anxiety in me like schoolwork or the constant fast pace of life back home. At Catalina, you can take things at a slower pace, relax, and ease those constant worries that I and others usually have; for me, it was a life-changing experience. 

Overall, the trip exposed students to activities that they would most likely not be able to do later in life. It provided an escape from reality and allowed students to form stronger bonds with their classmates and teachers.

It allowed those who are normally stressed or anxious about completing an assignment or studying late at night for a test to have a chance for calm and stress-free days. This Catalina trip was a mentally rejuvenating trip that I would do again if given the chance.