Summer programs ready for students
Summer camps in Lee County offer children a chance to sail the Caloosa-hatchee, understand about life in the ocean, dig for dinosaur bones or learn how to ride a horse.
Camp organizers want to deliver one message to children on summer break: Why spend your days inside watching television when there are so many exciting activities at your fingertips?
The city Parks and Recreation Department is offering a myriad of activities and educational programs this summer centered around nature treks, animals and fun on the water.
The Cape Coral Yacht Club has youth sailing, kids kayaking, a beach bum expedition, a powerboat camp and a beginner’s class in fishing for youngters ages 4-17. None of the camps cost more than $200 and they keep kids occupied through the summer.
Mark Hunter, a recreational specialist at the Yacht Club, said youth sailing, powerboat training and kayaking are among the most popular.
“They are out on the water every day learning the basics of sailing and kayaking,” said Hunter. “All three are very popular and are very hands-on.”
The two-week sailing camp is administered by the Edison Sailing Club, which has different boats for children depending on their age and level of experience. Instructors from the U.S. Sailing Association teach campers to rig, launch and sail their own boat.
Children who enroll in the powerboat camp earn a safety boating card that allows them to legally operate a powerboat. The state of Florida currently requires any child born after September 1980 to acquire a safety card if they wish to operate a vessel with 10 horsepower or more.
Hunter said that the children enjoy all of the water activities.
“The kids have a great time out on the water,” said Hunter.
Besides the activities on the river, the Yacht Club hosts the “Beach Bum Exploration,” where children are taught about sea life with a local marine biologist. There are four sessions in this hands-on camp where campers use equipment, explore the beach and interact with organisms in a touch tank.
Four Freedoms Park hosts a science camp, preschool camp and a horse camp for youth ages 7-16. In the horse camp, organized by the Saddlewood Horse Club, students learn about horse anatomy, how to take care of a horse and riding with elements of English, western and vaulting styles. Protective helmets are provided by Saddlewood.
“On Fridays, they put on a little show for their parents so they can see what they learn,” said Linda Carollo, a recreational specialist for Four Freedoms Park.
The horse riding camp ends with students receiving trophies and certificates at a cook-out.
This summer the Imaginarium and Southwest Florida Museum of History in Fort Myers are transformed into Camp Imaginarium and Fort Hands-On Adventure Camp.
According to Helena Finnegan, public relations and marketing manager, camps run from June 15 to Aug. 21 and give children the choice of “exploring magic, marine biology, forensic science, robotics, rocketry, engineering, architecture and archaeology.”
She said that most popular camp themes center around dinosaurs or hunting for treasure. Space is still available for many of these camps.
“At Camp Imaginarium, the favorites include Rocketry, Oceans and Dinos, while at Fun at the Fort, the popular camps include Mythbusters and Treasure Hunters,” said Finnegan.
Pre- and post-care is also provided from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for any child ranging in age from kindergarten to seventh grade. Registration for this camp is first-come, first-serve, said Finnegan.
“Both museums provide a positive and supportive learning environment with a high level of personal attention for each camper by museum education staff, certified teachers and specially trained junior camp assistants,” said Finnegan.
Sun Splash Family Waterpark on Santa Barbara Boulevard in the Cape is also open for those hot summer days. From June 15 to Aug. 23, it’s open seven-days-a-week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park has also scheduled two Family Fun Nights for July 11 and Aug. 8.