MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. — Caymus Maxson, 11, and her dad love Madeira Beach. It's their favorite place to spend the day. But last year, Caymus saw a problem she couldn't ignore.
"The city of Madeira Beach was raking the beach to make it look nice and that's great and all but the problem is they would take their big rake and once it got full, they would dump it at the edge of the water for it to wash out with the tide. The trash would be intertwined with it and it would still go out in the ocean," explains Caymus. "I'm like, I don't like this so I'm going to create some change about it."
As part of a community service project through Madeira Beach Fundamental called Kids Care, Caymus researched solutions and wrote a letter to the mayor sharing her ideas.
"The question you may be asking yourself is why in the entire cosmic universe is a 10-year-old girl standing here talking to the city council," says Caymus during a Madeira Beach City Council meeting.
After an invitation from the Mayor, a then 10-year-old Caymus, stood in front of the council and presented her proposal to save the sea animals.
"My proposed ordinances, no more cigarettes, e-cigarettes and cigars, this is on the beach, single-use plastics on the beach and balloons in the city limits," said Caymus.
But Caymus got a lesson in how long it takes for change to come.
"To date, the ordinances haven't been passed but immediately following the meeting it inspired me to create change myself, and that is 'Trash Turtles' origin story, essentially in a quick fashion," says Caymus.
Trash Turtles is a non-profit labor of love and her whole family is involved.
"All throughout quarantine, we've had something positive to talk about and something positive to do together in our own little community," explains Bryan Maxson.
"We've done amazing things. We've contacted companies. We've partnered with some great organizations. It's just been a lot that we've accomplished," says Caymus.
Trash Turtles is a full-blown business now. Caymus sells apparel to support her mission to keep Madeira Beach clean and safe for sea animals. She even established a $1,000 scholarship for environmentally conscious high school seniors.
"I do this to spread awareness and because it makes me feel good that being so young, means being small doesn't mean you can do small things it means you can grow and change and make a bigger impact," says Caymus.
"We didn't know she was so good on camera. We didn't know that she was passionate about making an impact the way she has," explains Bryan. "Some of the emails she's written to CEOs of billion-dollar companies have just blown us away."
And for Caymus, the sky is the limit.
She says, "I really want to go to a prestigious school and get a degree in math and science. I want to go to space and clean up space because there's trash in space and I want to clean up not just here but up there as well."
Here are some upcoming beach cleanups:
- Aug. 14 from 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. Archibald Park Madeira Beach
- Sept. 18 from 8 - 11 a.m. Archibald Park Madeira Beach
- Oct. TBD
- Nov. TBD
- Dec. TBD