Port Discover's Danish plans engaging, fun summer camps

Duffy Danish.jpeg

Duffy Danish


By Anna Goodwin McCarthy

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Whether it’s technology-led nature walks or sessions on the science of sailing, Duffy Danish is hoping the summer camp activities for children she’s planning at Port Discover next month will be both fun and engaging.

As the executive director of the hands-on science center in downtown Elizabeth City, Danish has scheduled three sessions of a summer camp program during the month of June.

Kids ages 3-5 will participate in the first camp session June 3-7 from 9 a.m. to noon. The second camp session is for children ages 6-9 and will be held June 10-14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The third camp session is for children ages 10-13 and will be held June 17-21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Each camp will feature the same activities, only they’ll be modified for each age group, Danish said.

One of the high-tech features campers will be using is the iNaturalist app. Using an iPad, campers will scan photos of flora and fauna they see on nature walks. Then, using the iNaturalist app, they can easily identify what they’ve seen.

While none of the campers will actually be sailing, they will learn the principles of sailing as well as the science behind it.

“Sailing is a science,” Danish notes.

Danish has long had a keen interest in sailing. Originally from Massachusetts, Danish asked her parents for sailing lessons when she was 11. While at their summer home on Long Island, N.Y. Danish began to take lessons and soon discovered a passion for the sport.

She was a member of the sailing team at Connecticut College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s of arts degree in teaching. She went on to work as a sailing coach at her alma mater and even participated in an effort to qualify for the Olympics.

Danish also worked as the sailing director at yacht clubs when her husband, Michael, who is in the U.S. Coast Guard, was stationed in Miami and in Texas. When they lived in Washington, D.C., she worked as a sales representative for a business in the bicycle industry.

Danish said she and her husband still enjoy sailing, but now “we have transitioned to a life of racing bikes.” The couple also enjoy camping with their 3-year-old son, Eddie, and riding bikes in the mountains.

Danish said she hopes to teach Eddie how to sail, and he is already riding his own bicycle with his parents.

When her family moved to Elizabeth City, Danish said she took Eddie to check out Port Discover — only to discover a week later the hands-on science center was closing.

Danish said she realized, “I could really do a lot here.”

Danish said she had taken museum studies classes in college, so helping run an educational nonprofit “has always been something I wanted to do.”

She interviewed with Port Discover’s board of directors and helped get them get the science center back open.

Once Port Discover reopened, Danish immediately set to work restarting its activities for kids and making improvements to the site.

“I personally reupholstered the walls,” she said.

Danish looks forward to leading the camps and activities at Port Discover this summer. She also looks forward to more kids using the facility.

“My favorite part is seeing the transformation of the space and seeing people enjoy it,” Danish said.

For more information about Port Discover’s summer camps, visit www.portdiscover.org or the organization’s Facebook page.