by Sage Hurley. Photos provided by Bowfish Studios.
Have you or your little one ever wondered what it’s like to be a mermaid? Imagine swimming around in a colorful tail, braiding hair, and meeting other mermaid friends. Bowfish Studios is making this dream a reality this summer with Mermaid Camp!
Bowfish Studios began transforming little guys and girls into mermaids and mermen through special makeovers in their store just two years ago. After the great success the business had braiding hair, doing mermaid makeup and nails, and providing fun photoshoots, co-founders McKenna Roble and Caitlin Quirk took becoming a mermaid to a whole new level with Mermaid Camp.
“Originally, we started with just mermaids, and it just took off automatically, because who doesn’t love mermaids by the shore?” said McKenna.
Last summer was the first year of Mermaid Camp, which started as a one-day camp from 9am to 11:30am on Mondays and Fridays.
“I was talking to Caitlin, and we were like, what if we did a camp? Luckily in Ocean City everyone’s connected and everyone’s friends, so we teamed up with Ocean City Paddle Board Company and Peace of Wood and introduced our first one day camp” said McKenna.
The one-day camp brought the magic of mermaids to life by providing a mermaid tail swimming lesson, a stand-up paddle board lesson, and a relaxing paint session with Peace of Wood to end the day. The camp was extremely successful in its first year. It turns out there are plenty of kids in Ocean City who would love to be a mermaid for the day.
On March 29, National Mermaid Day, Bowfish previewed its camp with a teaser on social media and received an overwhelming response.
“It absolutely exploded. It was our most shared and liked photo. People were crazy about it,” said McKenna.
When Bowfish saw such positive excitement for the one-day camp, they realized they wanted to do something more. They added more dates, making the camp available every other week. Shortly after, McKenna came up with a new idea.
“About a month before summer, I woke up in the middle of the night, and thought, ‘Mermaid Boot Camp’. I wrote all my ideas down, then the next day I came to Caitlin and said, ‘We’ve got to do this camp,’” said McKenna.
McKenna used to work for the Ocean City Waterpark as a lifeguard and counselor for Junior Lifeguard Camp, so it was a natural idea to host Mer-Bootcamp at the waterpark in the morning hours before it opened.
“Who wouldn’t want to be a mermaid in a waterpark?” asked McKenna.
After meetings and lots of planning, Bowfish and Ocean City Waterpark came to an agreement, allowing for a four-day Mermaid Bootcamp to take place for the very first time this summer.
“The waterpark has been supportive since day one. It’s really awesome. They’re transferring over to new ownership, and the owners want to be more community based, and with that, they thought mermaids would be perfect for bringing in more people and a new demographic. They were very excited about it,” said McKenna.
Not only does the four-day camp take place in one of the most entertaining spots in Ocean City, it also has a detailed itinerary to make every camper feel like a mermaid.
The camp is Monday to Thursday from 7:15am to 9:15am, and each day it begins with a hair braiding lesson. The campers are paired up, taught how to braid, and encouraged to try different types of braids after they master each type. After that is where the mermaid magic happens. Swimming with a tail is a unique experience that can’t be had in many other places other than mermaid camp. On the first day, campers learn the necessary safety behind using a tail to swim. Bowfish values safety and makes sure that all campers understand how safely swim with the monofin, which is the mermaid tail shape fin that binds the feet together. After the camp counselors, known as Certified Mermaid Instructors, deem each camper safely able to use the monofin, they are givin a skin to wear for the rest of the week. The skin is a colorful material that goes around the legs and the monofin, creating the realistic mermaid tail look. During the week, the campers, swim, play games, go on waterslides, and make lasting friendships.
“Day one was a little quiet, but they slowly warmed up to each other. By the end of the day on day four, we could not get them to stop talking. By day four, they were the best of friends. It was amazing watching their friendships grow, and now they are even in a group message and talking about coming back in future years,” said McKenna.
Mermaid Boot Camp ends the fun week of swimming and making friends with a makeover and a photoshoot called, “Mermaid Graduation.” Each camper gets her picture taken with her tail, creating memories that won’t be forgotten.
McKenna and Caitlin are passionate about making the dream of being a mermaid come true, and it shows through their enthusiasm when speaking about their little mermaids and all of the good times they’ve had executing this camp.
The camp is for ages eight and older. There are still four weeks of camp available this summer to join and become a mermaid. Check out www.bowfishstudios.com/bootcamp/ for more information and to sign up.