Campers finding plenty to do during holidays at Rec Center
Almost every kid, at one time or another, has been scolded for playing with their food. But on Monday, dozens of island youngsters were being encouraged to do just that.
Open to kindergarteners through eighth graders, the Youth Holiday Recreation Camp began this week and will continue through next Thursday, Dec. 31. Throughout the two-week break from school, children at the camp will engage in holiday-themed activities and special recreational programs designed to offer plenty of fun for all ages.
“We’ve got so many things going on, but we built our schedule (of activities) so they can be switched around,” said Dave DeFonzo, Youth Program Coordinator at the Sanibel Recreation Center. “There’s something going on in the mornings and the afternoons every day… we’re keeping their minds occupied while they’re out of school.”
On the first day of the Youth Holiday Recreation Camp, which runs from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each weekday, kids spent the morning making holiday ornaments for the Rec Center’s Christmas tree located in the lobby. They also took part in what was called “Frosty’s Brain Freeze Trivia Challenge.”
That afternoon, counselors operated E.L.F., Inc. – “Elf Laboratory Fun” – as part of a holiday food creation workshop. That activity included kids making edible sculptures out of healthy snacks like rice cakes, pretzels and cereal. Of course, a few “sweet treats” like marshmallows, gummi bears and cake frosting were incorporated into the tasty mix.
“I’m making a snowman,” boasted 8-year-old Savannah Nippa. “It’s gonna have green and red gummi bears around it.”
“I’m making a marine stand and I’m putting little people everywhere,” noted Zachary Orsino, 7. “They’re the guards who are protecting it.”
Across a long line of tables, more than a dozen youngsters played with their tiny sculptures, carefully adding arms and legs to snowmen or offering advice to their friends about how many jelly beans it would take to surround their miniature castles.
“We just took a few handful of items and filled the trays with them,” said counselor Ashley Burns. “They really didn’t need any instruction. We just told them to be creative and have fun.”
“A lot of the kids are making snowmen, but some of them just like eating the goodies,” added Rec Center staffer Sara Henninger.
On Tuesday, the Youth Holiday Recreation Camp took them on a field trip to Bailey’s General Store, where kids learned how donuts were made. They also engaged in Marshmallow Igloo Art and played on an inflatable obstacle course on Wednesday.
On Christmas Eve Day, activities will include a second E.L.F., Inc. worksop, this time a toy-making demonstration, as well as cookie decorating so the little ones can offer Santa something fancy to much on with his milk that night.
“Everything we do here is designed around fun,” said DeFonzo.
Next week, campers will be creating holiday greeting cards for U.S. troops, building gingerbread houses, singing holiday songs with a karaoke machine, playing on an inflatable rock wall slide and paying a visit to Island Pizza Company.