Junior Ocean Ambassadors Camp


The Situation

Life on the Marshall Islands is inextricably bound to the ocean. Yet for decades, the nation’s ocean and beaches have been subjected to an influx of external pollution, environmental neglect and the full impact of global climate change. A lack of adequate waste management infrastructure and awareness contributes to local pollution; ocean currents carry trash to the islands from as far away as Australia; overfishing depletes vital sources of food and livelihoods, and warming temperatures change the very nature of the ocean on which the Marshallese community depends. Yet even as our oceans face a seemingly insurmountable crisis, youth in the Marshall Islands and around the world are fighting back.

A Call to Action

In 2017, with rising urgency on all sides, the United Nations convened the first ever Oceans Conference in New York. In a bold statement to world leaders, nations and organizations from around the world offered their voluntary commitments to the conference – promises of concrete action and support for the sustainable future of our oceans. Having worked closely with the Marshallese community for years, we have seen both the mounting crisis in our oceans and the deep passion and ingenuity of our youth to address challenges. When the call for action came from the United Nations, we began working in earnest with our partners throughout the Marshallese community to devise an effective way to incorporate youth, indigenous culture, and conservation sciences into building a sustainable future for our oceans.


The result is the Junior Ocean Ambassadors Program and Camp. Announced at the final partnership dialogue of the United Nations Oceans Conference, this camp is the convergence of our strongest values: conservation, youth empowerment, and cultural education in pursuit of a bright, sustainable future for our oceans.

The Junior Ocean Ambassadors Camp

The Junior Ocean Ambassadors Camp aims to empower youth in the Marshall Islands and across the Pacific to be powerful advocates for the future of our oceans. Our goal is to give participants a renewed sense of connection to the ocean, a dedication to its conservation, and tools to be effective advocates for its preservation at a local, national, and global level.

✓ Through powerful training in leadership, public speaking, and organizing skills, participants will become skilled advocates for ocean sustainability.
✓ From expert-led education to hands-on experiences, participants will gain a deep understanding of ocean sciences to support conservation efforts in their communities and worldwide.
✓ Through engagement with local leaders and elders, participants will come away with a renewed appreciation for ocean’s unique and vital place in Marshallese culture: past, present, and future.
✓ With daily practice, participants will become well versed in water sports and recreational exercise, becoming role models for responsible ocean recreation and healthy living in their communities.

The camp will facilitate direct, hands-on experiences to immerse students in the challenges facing our oceans and foster a personal dedication to creating solutions. Hosted in Arno, Arno in the Marshall Islands, the inaugural year of the Junior Ocean Ambassadors Camp will bring 30 local students together for two weeks of training, deep learning, community-building, and inspiration. By the end of two weeks, students will be well equipped to lead the charge for ocean conservation at home and around the world.


Youth in the South Pacific know, first hand, the problems facing our oceans and have the insight and ingenuity to find solutions to some of these daunting challenges. The Junior Ocean Ambassador Camp aims to connect these students with the resources and skills they need to become powerful activists for ocean conservation on a local, regional and global level.


By connecting students with experts in science and conservation, the Junior Ocean Ambassadors Camp will deepen students’ scientific understanding of these challenges. By engaging local leaders and storytellers and helping students share their own experiences, the camp will help students amplify their voice in promoting ocean health. Finally, by facilitating a personal, embodied connection to the ocean, the Junior Ocean Ambassador Camp will help students find their passion for conservation: launching the next wave of ocean activism.


Recognizing that all students learn differently, the camp seeks to provide a variety of academic, social, and physical learning opportunities in helping students deepen their knowledge and passion for ocean conservation.


Designed in collaboration with environmental scientists, conservation experts, local educators and community leadership, the JOAC curriculum is designed to build on students’ existing knowledge of ocean sciences, storytelling and water sports to foster deep understanding, confidence, and inspiration.




Designed in collaboration with environmental scientists, conservation experts, local educators and community leadership, the JOAC curriculum is designed to build on students’ existing knowledge of ocean sciences, storytelling and water sports to foster deep understanding, confidence, and inspiration.

Ocean Conservation Health & Wellness Leadership & Storytelling

Our oceans are an enormously important, interconnected system of interdependent ecosystems. Through expert-led instruction and hands-on field experiences, students will be able to expand their understanding of marine habitats, ocean inhabitants and the systems that sustains marine life. Students will focus on understanding the ocean as a dynamic, interconnected system, with specific investigation of local flora and fauna and their role in the global system. Field experiences will provide students the opportunity to connect this global perspective with direct observation of local environments with a focus on coral reefs, mangroves, and shoreline ecosystems.

As one of the main sources of sustenance for people and animals alike, the oceans are a vital resource for food. Students will investigate the interlinkages between different elements of marine and island life to identify the nuanced connections that sustain life in and around the water. Particular attention will be given to the reliance of different human food sources and their origins in the ocean. Through hands-on experience, students will deepen their understanding of these vital links between land and sea and how each step of the chain can influence the next.

While plastics are a visible, overwhelming issue for our oceans, marine pollution goes beyond discarded bottles and tires. In lessons, students will deepen their understanding of where marine pollution and trash originates and the social systems that perpetuate these issues. Field experience will provide a direct link between this global issue and its impact on island life as students comb the shores for evidence of marine pollution and work to understand the complete story of its origin.

A healthy ecosystem is key to a healthy society. Students will have the opportunity to learn from health and conservation experts about the critical linkages between ocean conservation and human health on the islands. Particular attention will be given to the impact of pollution on food chains and secondary resources utilized in maintaining human habitation on the islands.

There is no shortage in complexity when it comes to environmental policy. Students will have the opportunity to build their knowledge of local, regional, and international environmental policy making processes. Critically, students will learn both the process of policymaking at different levels and the means of influencing this process for conservation. Through conversation with local policy makers and advocacy experts, students will build their understanding of how to effectively engage in environmental policy.

The environment has enormous importance and meaning to us all – but why conserve it? Students will have the opportunity to hear from local cultural and community leaders about the importance of ocean conservation in Marshallese society and culture. The concepts of environmental justice, vulnerability and front-line communities will be discussed at length While the practical elements of conservation will be a focus, this group of lessons will also focus on the personal and moral underpinnings of conservation. Students will have the opportunity to personally reflect on their own reasons for pursuing conservation and lay the groundwork for personal stories.

Conservation is more than a moral or political issue – it’s a scientific one. Students will have the opportunity to hear from local experts on cutting edge conservation techniques, approaches, and technology. From wave power to artificial reefs, to conservation zones students will have the opportunity to dive into a deeper understanding of restoration techniques, conservation principles and practices. Field experience will also allow students to see first hand the difference conservation efforts can make for specific habitats on the islands.

Recycling is a key element of the solution to our global waste issue. Students will have the opportunity to learn about the process of recycling as it is contextualized within the lifecycle of a product. The concept of upcycling will also be discussed as a practical method for turning rubbish into useful, creative objects. Students will get to apply their creative side in turning trash into treasure and in discussing opportunities for utilizing the principles of recycling at a larger scale.

Business plays an enormous role in contributing to the global environmental crisis – but they can also be a part of the solution. Students will have the opportunity to learn more about responsible business practices, certifications, and why some businesses are choosing to be a part of the solution. While many people imagine businesses as large, imposing organizations, most businesses are small, local enterprises with enormous potential. Students will have an opportunity to interact with local business leaders to hear what they’re doing for ocean conservation and how it can be applied worldwide.

The Marshall Islands are dangerously susceptible to changes in climate and weather. Students will hear from experts in climate and ocean weather to understand why our oceans are becoming warmer, and the impact that has on fisheries, corals, and island life at large. Discussion with local advocates will also enable students to apply their creativity to identifying solutions at a local, regional and global level.

Responsible recreation is a critical part of ocean leadership. While many students have experience with water sports, the camp will provide an opportunity to refresh principles of water safety and remind students of what to do in the instance of an emergency. Students will also learn more about how to minimize their impact on the ocean when enjoying water sports.

We all love the water. Students will have the opportunity to hone their skills at a variety of water sports from paddle-boarding to swimming to surfing. Under the instruction of water athletes, students will sharpen their skills while reinforcing responsible water recreation.

CPR can save a life, if only you know what to do. Students will have the opportunity to learn from health experts the proper technique to safely conduct CPR. Additionally, students will learn details of more advanced first-aid related to water sports such as splints, addressing coral cuts, and minor head injury first-aid.

The ocean provides a great deal of our food, but what is actually in the food we ultimately consume? Students will have the opportunity to learn from health professionals about the importance of balanced nutrition, and how to easily interpret nutrition information. Particular attention will also be given to the value and uses of local foods from the Marshall Islands and their role in healthy eating.

The history of the Marshall Islands is deeply influenced by the nuclear legacy it holds. Hearing from atomic veterans and community leaders, students will have the opportunity to hear a variety of perspectives on the nuclear history of the islands and its impact on local life. Particular attention will be given to the ongoing challenges of nuclear waste, its impact on ocean biomes, and how this legacy ties to the current ocean conservation movement.

Storytelling is a deep part of Marshallese culture. Students will have the opportunity to not only hear from local and cultural leaders, but also to practice developing their own personal stories. Personal story development and public speaking practice are vital elements of fostering contemporary leaders. With the help of local leadership, students will have the chance to build a powerful narrative for ocean conservation using local storytelling traditions.

Speaking up to your peers can be one of the most difficult tests of leadership. Through discussion with local activists and youth leaders, students will have the opportunity to practice speaking up for what they believe in. Particular emphasis will be placed on practicing interventions with peers and building confidence to speak up.

What makes a good story? It depends. With guidance from local leaders, students will learn the key components of effective storytelling and continue practicing developing their own personal story. Lessons will focus on developing personal connection, applying cultural iconography, catering to an audience, and developing emotion as a motivator.

Fake news seems to be everywhere these days. Leaders need to be skilled at discerning the truth from opinions and lies to be effective. Working with local experts, students will have the opportunity to learn techniques and best practices for identifying reliable sources of information and for discerning between fact and opinion in even the murkiest of fora.

How do you make a difference? At the camp, students will have the opportunity to learn from local organizers and non-profit leaders the techniques they use to design and execute projects at a local and global level. Students will learn techniques such as influence-mapping, resource planning, and volunteer engagement as methods for building effective advocacy efforts.

Leadership is all about bringing people together. As part of the camp, student teams will have the chance to organize a small project to put everything they’ve learned to work for the benefit of the ocean and the Arno community.

No one should ever have to endure any level of violence. Students will have the opportunity to learn from local experts and advocates the best techniques for identifying and intervening in social, interpersonal and sexual violence.

Global support requires global cooperation. Learning how to work across international boundaries and culture is critical to successful ocean advocacy. Learning from the Living Islands team, students will have the opportunity to practice intercultural communication techniques, identifying values across cultures, and tailoring personal stories to fit cross-cultural contexts.