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Summer camp at North off to great start

June 29, 2016
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The great thing about the shortened summer camp schedule at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center is that there isn't much down time for the campers.

With the children packing nine weeks of fun into six weeks, summer camp has provided quite a bang for the buck, and it's shown in the attendance.

The first two weeks of traditional camp, last week and this week, are sold out, and even July 4 week (with only four days) had almost sold out, according to James Pittro, who runs the traditional summer camp program.

Article Photos

From left, Kyle Weast, Chase Smith, Molly Guy, counsellor Zach LaPaugh and Gavin Youngblood take a break outside during summer camp at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center.


"As far as signing kids up, this might be our best year ever. It seems in the past they would wait for other options," Pittro said. "Now, people seem to know the rec center is out there. We're pulling from Fort Myers, Cape Coral and even Estero. The numbers are really good."

The numbers surprised Pittro, who thought many parents might rotate with the kids or take vacation. But the presence of the facility has brought the parents back who signed their children up last year.

Instead, there are at least 15 to 20 kids who are on a waiting list, Pittro said, with very few, if any, canceling out at the last minute. He also said the weeks are filling up quicker, with them reaching the max of 90 well before the Friday before.

Already, the kids have gone to the North Fort Myers community pool, played laser tag at Head Pinz and Lakes Park, while a smaller group went to the Randall Research Center on Pine Island.

The larger field trips will include the Naples Zoo and Sun & Fun.

On Friday, the campers got a visit from the Lee County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit, which brought a few of their dogs for a demonstration.

Molly Guy, 11, who has come to camp for three years, said she has no trouble finding things to do and that people should sign up.

"It's a great place. We're very active here. We go on a lot of field trips and have fun," Guy said. "We went bowling and made a lot of strikes and got good discounts. All the counsellors are great."

Kyle Weast, 10, was looking to find just the right words to describe camp.

"I think that the camp is Jurassic (huge)," Weast said. "I played laser tag and it was pretty exhilarating. I've made a lot of friends and I'm looking forward to Sun & Fun."

Guy and Weast loved their counsellors, including Zach LaPaugh, who has not only been a counselor for seven years, but also a former camper.

"I went here when we only had portables before going out to the 4-H building. I was a camper for six years then came here as a counselor at 19," LaPaugh said, who this fall will become a teacher at Dunbar High School. "I've enjoyed watching the area develop and these kids need an outlet and the kids have fun and we try to facilitate that."

As for teen camp, that has gone a little slower, with only about half of the 40 slots filled for opening week. Tiffany Vance said that's about normal for her group.

"We've been doing a lot of things inside and outside. We haven't started many projects yet, but we will soon," Vance said. "We have the cardboard regatta on July 14 at the pool and we're going kayaking on Tuesday."

Pittro said the camp is always looking for sponsors for pizza or ice cream parties. Vance said they will try to get some grant money in the future so they can go to other places that are more educational.



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