Sanibel Sea School Campers Salute Calusa Tribe

provided to Santiva Chronicle

Ryder Szymanczyk shows off his palm frond weaving skills

Calusa Week is always a favorite among Sanibel Sea School campers, and this year was no exception. The Calusa were the earliest known inhabitants of SW Florida, and they had a unique approach to life by the sea. Camp participants learned how they survived and thrived on Sanibel 3,500 years ago.

Using natural resources to create tools and weapons was an essential part of the Calusa lifestyle, so we collected shells to make our own, then we practiced weaving plates from palm fronds. We also tried shelter building with materials we found on the beach.

The Calusa were known for crafting long seine nets from palm fibers and shells, so we practiced using modern day seine nets. We also paddled canoes, decorated masks, snorkeled, and played a bead trading game.

As usual, there was plenty of surfboard paddling, macramé tying, and time spent with camp friends. Sanibel Sea School is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. Summer camps are scheduled for children ages 4-18, and scholarships are available. To learn more, visit

Leave a Comment

We are interested in articulate, well-informed remarks that are relevant to the article. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. To be approved for publication, your comments should be civil and avoid name-calling. It may take up to 24 hours for your comment to appear, if it is approved.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.