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Summer camp kicks off with a twist

By Staff | Jun 24, 2020

David Incardona, 7, makes a diving catch in a kickball game last week at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center during the first week of summer camp.

After spending the last three months being cooped up in the house, kids from grades 1 through 8 were able to finally get away and go to summer camp on Monday, starting a seven-week program of fun and games.

But it’s going to be a very different camp than other years, due to the pandemic and preventative measure so put in place.

With the decision to go on with summer camp made just two weeks ago, staff at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center had to kick it up a notch to get the facility ready for the kids, who can attend from now until July 31.

This year’s camp will have no field trips or trips to the pool. Further, there will be very limited contact between the campers as counselors try to keep campers socially distanced.

The typical ratio of 15 kids for every counselor is now nine to one, with camp limits capped to 54 for traditional camp (K-5) and 18 for the middle schoolers (6-8).

Caps were at 120 and 40 for traditional and middle-school camps, respectively, before the pandemic.

“The kids will remain on site, but the staff has done a great job coming up with new activities to reinvigorate things and to make up for the lack of field trips,” said Jesse Lavender, Lee County Parks & Rec director. “The games are newer, including a basketball and baseball game that combines the two games.”

For the first time in a long time, the traditional and middle-school campers are separated. Traditional camp is at the rec center, (which is closed to everybody else) while the other camp is at the 4-H building behind the football concession stand.

Nearly all the slots for traditional camp are filled, while a handful of slots each week for teen camp are still available.

Stafford Milligan, coordinator of the middle school camp, said staff is teaming up to oversee things this summer to keep things fun for the kids.

“It’s been challenging. We’ve had to add things to our rotation and separate the two camps. Everyone has their own place to wash their hands and the middle schoolers still utilize the gym for a couple hours a day,” Milligan said.

Jessy Zukaitis, traditional camp coordinator, said they have faced the same challenges, but have been able to purchase for the kids their own markers, crayons and other items to prevent cross-contamination.

“We’re playing modified games. We’re playing tag with pool noodles, sanitizing equipment after we play with them,” Zukaitis said. “The kids want to touch each other. When they do, we ask them to sanitize then and after each station.”

Isabella Bravo, 14, of Lehigh Acres, said camp has been fun and she enjoys her counselors.

“It’s a bit of a bummer that we can’t go to the amusement parks,” said Bravo, who was attending her eighth camp. “I love going to the gym every day. It’s a relief to get out of the house.”

Aiden Jundt, 9, of Cape Coral, said camp was going well and liked his friends and the counselors and playing video games.

“It’s bad that we can’t go on field trips. But we’re doing things outside like water day and Sno-cones, so we’re still having fun,” Jundt said. “This camp is great.”

Summer camp is open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. To sign up or for more information, call 533-7200.