Sanibel Sea School Blog

Seven New Ocean Warriors Conquer Sanibel Sea School’s Wahine Toa Week

August 11, 2022

From June 20-24, seven female teenagers participated in Sanibel Sea School’s Wahine Toa Week, an annual all-women paddling and survival week led by only female staff. “Wahine toa” is a phrase with Polynesian roots that translates to “woman warrior” or “female surfer.” Participants embodied this phrase through a week of paddling, orienteering, and camping overnight on an uninhabited island.


“This camp empowers women by pushing their physical limits and teaching them important life skills,” said camp leader Kimberly Bouwkamp.


Each day was purposely crafted to prepare them for Thursday’s overnight on an uninhabited island and strengthen their confidence in paddling. Campers explored Sanibel via stand-up paddleboard, perfected their strokes, learned how to navigate using maps and compasses, and got certified in CPR and First Aid through the Sanibel Fire Station and the American Heart Association. This week was a skill-builder, indeed.


On Thursday afternoon, it was finally time to put their new paddling skills to the test, despite the windy conditions. They were ready for anything — and the elements were not going to hold them back. The girls shared ready-to-eat meals, built a fire for roasting smores, soaked up the colorful sunset, and enjoyed some group bonding while being immersed in nature. The next morning, campers made their way to the Sanibel Causeway for breakfast, and then continued on the epic paddle to Fort Myers Beach. The wind was in their favor this time, and better yet, a large spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) cruised by their boards for part of the journey. The last stop of the day was well-deserved lunch at Dixie Fish Co. to wrap up the week! Congratulations to all the Wahine Toa Week participants!

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