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Camp WAVE is housed within Newport's impressive aquarium. The aquarium boasts a million gallons of water with thousands of animals from across the globe. ADDRESS: One Aquarium Way, Newport, KY 41071 / Image: Phil Armstrong, Cincinnati Refined // Published: 4.22.17

Camp WAVE Makes Us Wish We Were In The 2nd Grade Again

If you haven’t gone to the Newport Aquarium in a while, the WAVE Foundation is fishing for you to return.

No, the WAVE Foundation isn’t an organization that focuses on how to use hands to say hello to someone across the street (that sounds more like a lost Monty Python skit, to be honest). It’s a non-profit that, according to the WAVE website, “strives to excite, engage, and educate our community about the wonders of aquatic life and the importance of conservation.”

In other words, these people really like animals and want to educate others about them. And part of that education is through a perk other aquariums and programs don’t offer.

At Camp WAVE, you can actually touch many of the animals you learn about. As in, you can touch stingrays, sharks, turtles, baby alligators, skinks, snakes, and…(hold on, building suspense)


I’m dead serious. I got to pet a gosh dang penguin, and it was maybe the best day I’ve had all year.


WAVE is doing a camp this summer called (you guessed it) Camp WAVE. Basically, it’s nine themed weeks of day camps at the Newport Aquarium and aimed at youths.

I shadowed Lauren Beatty, WAVE Education Coordinator, to see what a slice of a day at Camp WAVE entails.

Kids met in Shark Ray Bay, a room illuminated in blue light with a gigantic porthole showing all types of aquatic life, and after a brief interactive lesson about the animals, they dispersed into the aquarium.

After an hour or so of roaming the aquarium, the kids were ushered across Newport on the Levee to a room where they were shown three different reptiles. They learned about the animals while also getting to touch them. Wide eyes and smiles were also in attendance.

I only witnessed part of a day, so presumably the penguin-petting came after that.

The thing that stood out to me throughout this whole experience is how engaged Lauren and the kids were with both each other and the animals. Nary a frown nor look of boredom crossed across the faces of these kids the whole time. Even the adults who chaperoned were learning and benefitting from the program.


Scroll to the top and fish around the photo gallery for a better glimpse at what Camp WAVE offers.

Also, bonus: pics of all those adorable penguins!


Learn more about the WAVE Foundation by visiting their website.