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Basic FAQs

Answers You Need to Plan Your Visit

What is a Typical Day Like on Penikese Island?

Typical School Day Trip Schedule

  • 8:30am – Depart Woods Hole on the MV Richard S. Edwards. Students enjoy the boat trip from Woods Hole along the picturesque Elizabeth Islands; spot wildlife and ocean birds along the trip, and do an exercise in nautical navigation.

  • 9:30am – Arrive on Penikese Island. Students participate in Penikese Educational Curriculum, which includes up to four educational stations, including an exploration of the pristine 75-acre island. Among the activities, students discover treasures on the beach, explore the cemetery and other remnants of the leper colony, and visit the lagoon, ponds, beaches and grasslands that make up a wildlife sanctuary that protects more than 150 species.

  • 1:30pm – Depart Penikese Island for Woods Hole.

  • 2:30pm – Arrive in Woods Hole. Board buses for trip back to school.

Traveling to Penikese Island?

Students and their teachers travel to and from the island on the MV Richard S. Edwards, a modern, Coast Guard certified 36-foot vessel. The MV Richard S. Edwards can carry up to 23 students and teachers plus a Boat Captain and First Mate. The trip from Woods Hole, MA takes just under an hour.

What About Health and Safety Concerns

Safety comes first on Penikese Island. Our staff is certified in the Principles of First Aid and CPR, and carry first aid kits and radios with them while out on the trails. Students are supervised at all times by chaperones, teachers, or Penikese Island School staff; all are subject to the rule of three and no one is ever alone with an adult. All staff are CORI background checked.

What About Medical Emergencies?

In case of medical emergencies, the US Coast Guard Station at Menemsha (Martha’s Vineyard) and Boston MedFlight helicopters are prepared to respond.

Do You Conduct Pre-Trip Meetings at Visiting Schools

We can provide an informational visit for teachers, parents, chaperones, and students at your school prior to your trip; or we can send you a video of our program to show to your parents and students. Our staff are also available to meet with your teachers or administrators to provide information or to plan curriculum for your school’s trip. It's a great way to get everyone connected and prepared before the program starts, and students love seeing their island educators at camp after meeting them during the pre-trip meeting at their school!

Do You Require School Chaperones

We require 1 teacher/chaperone for every 7-10 students, provided by the attending school. Chaperones participate in all educational programs with groups of students, participate in group activities such as field studies, and support students in their communal living, i.e. meals, showers, etc. on overnight trips. Penikese Island School provides a handbook for chaperones designed to assist in their responsibilities, including information about the schedule, program goals, behavior expectations, chaperone responsibilities and activities to use with your students. Chaperones are responsible for reading the Chaperone Handbook prior to arrival on Penikese Island.

How Are Meals Prepared

Homemade meals are included in the cost of each overnight program, starting with dinner the first night and ending with lunch on the last day. We provide healthy, kid-friendly food in a family-style setting. An example of a typical day consists of: pancakes, cereal and fruit for breakfast; build your own sandwich (turkey, ham, cheese, vegetables, tofu, and/or Wowbutter and jelly), carrots, trail mix, and cookies for lunch; and pasta with a choice of vegetarian or meat sauce, salad, and bread for dinner.

We can easily accommodate most special diets, including vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and most food-related allergies; please enter special food needs on your/your child's Medical History Form, and contact us in advance of the program for special accommodations. Don’t forget a lunch for yourself/your child on the first day!

What Should I Bring for My Visit to Penikese Island

A list of what to bring and what not to bring to camp is included in each Handbook. Each child and adult attending will also need a completed Medical History Form, and students and chaperones under 18 who are bringing any prescription or over the counter medication will also need to complete a Medication Authorization Form signed by a doctor with full dispensation instructions. All required forms are included in your Handbook.

"I was sold from the moment I was told of Penikese's history

as a science laboratory, school for young men, and bird sanctuary.

It (Penikese Island) is a place of exceptional beauty, mystery, and peace.

Large enough to get lost on, but small enough to have a sense of the whole,

Penikese is a point of sacred geography. Taking a group of fifteen high school kids to

this island was one of the best and most impactful experiences I have had as an educator.

It was great to see how the kids flourished in this unstructured environment away

from technology and normal social roles. It also provided a truly unique opportunity

for me to connect with students and colleagues.”

– John, Teacher from Cape Cod, MA

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