by Courtney Frischmann, Brevard Center Residential Staff
Students from the Brevard Center spent a day at Discovery Cove in Orlando and it was an absolute blast!!! The place was amazing. The scenery was beautiful and the weather was perfect. The park was true to its word and delivered an all inclusive day for the students, minus the crowds and long lines.
Discovery Cove provided everything we needed including wet suits, snorkels, towels, lockers, special sunscreen safe for the marine life, even a complimentary picture of us when we entered.
We got a late start and missed breakfast so we decided to take our time and get situated. We put our belongings in lockers, painted ourselves with sunscreen from head to toe, put on our wetsuits and headed to the restaurant for lunch. The menu was decent and offered a pretty good selection of healthful (and unhealthful) items and, for the most part, we were all pretty impressed. We ate as a group and relaxed while listening to a steel drum band.
After lunch, we headed to the Coral Reef Pool and the students dove right in, especially Valerie Stepp. A few of the students were nervous about the size of the sea rays and the fish were not shy! It was so amazing to swim right beside these huge sea rays and watch a school of fish swim through our feet. There were fish of all shapes, sizes, and colors and they were absolutely beautiful. Ben Kesselhaut, Jay Mikush and Holden Bias were a bit uneasy at first but, at the end of the day, it was hard to get them out of the water.
Sam Kirby and Ian Wilson really enjoyed themselves and were not afraid in the least. Daniel Eakin and Valerie went in the deep water for a while but most of the students stayed in the shallows and had fun just watching the fish from the surface.
I headed to the Dolphin Pool with Ian, Zach Lichterman and Valerie soon after. Ian and Zach had paid for the dolphin package and it was worth every penny. Both students were close to the beach so I was able to capture a few good pictures of them interacting, feeding and swimming with a dolphin. The dolphin sang, flipped and swam around the students and they got to ride the dolphin for a short distance. Zach didn’t stop smiling for the entire 45 minutes. The guide let Val and I take a group shot with Ian and Zach. We were both able to get in the pool and touch Kia, a young female. The picture turned out great!
After a snack as a group, we headed to the Lazy River. We swam through the cave and bird aviary, spent some time on the beach and took pictures under the waterfall. Jay, Holden, Sam, and Ben enjoyed the natural massage the waterfall provided. Valerie especially liked this because you could view the birds sitting all around the edges of the water while floating by. Daniel saw a peacock with his feathers fanned out and later fed some small birds when he visited the aviary. It was such a great time!
The best part of the day was the Sea Ray Pool. The students were in awe of how close and tame the sea rays were and their temperament was much like playful cats. They swam through our legs and brushed up against our bodies when they wanted attention. The students had the best time interacting with them. Ian, Brian, Holden, Daniel, Valerie and Ben spent a lot of time swimming around the pool, touching and feeling the rays. It was awesome to witness them have so much fun!
At the end of the day it was hard to leave and we stayed until the park closed at 5:30. Most of the students were pretty tired but still very excited about the trip.