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Summer camp extended four more weeks

By Staff | Aug 5, 2020

Friday was supposed to be the day where the traditional and middle school campers got together for the final time before the start of school, usually for a talent show or for one last snow cone.

But with the opening of school pushed back until Aug. 31, Lee County decided to extend the camp season four more weeks to give kids something to do as they wait even longer for school to start up again.

Jessy Zukaitis, who runs the traditional camp, said the decision to extend camp came only a few days before the scheduled end of camp, when it was decided the Lee County School District would be unable to start the school year on Aug. 10.

Lee County decided to extend camp in the meantime to supplement childcare. However, there will be some differences.

The first two weeks, there will be the usual 54 for traditional camp and middle school will have 18. However, the last two weeks will have only 27 traditional campers and nine for middle school.

“We don’t have enough staff because most of our counselors are teachers. For the middle school camp, we will have just one counselor,” said Jessy Zukaitis, who runs the traditional camp. “The teachers go back on the 17th.”

Zukaitis said throughout the first seven weeks of camp, they have brought in many guest speakers and done several nature walks to keep the kids busy.

“We have partnered with the North Fort Myers Fire Department, and they’ve spoken to the kids and done educational activities with them and had a wet day and set up an obstacle course for them,” Zukaitis said.

Due to the pandemic, there have been no trips to the pool or Sun Splash nor any other of the traditional trips they have done in years past.

The campers have also met a person from the Caloosa Blueway who brought reptiles with him for the kids to see and learn about.

Lisa Weaver, supervisor at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center, said the counselors rose to the occasion, working under the new parameters, since they had never been done quite like this before.

“They were out multiple times per day sanitizing equipment and keep kids socially distant with their games,” Weaver said. “Summer camp went well this year, and now we’ll have to get more creative and keep these kids busy. I can’t speak highly enough about the counselors.”

Weaver said nearly every week has been full for both camps, and they will see what happens from here on out, since these next four weeks have fallen in their laps.

After the pandemic hit, the group sizes were decreased from 15 campers for every counselor to nine per counselor and the number of campers were sharply reduced. Also, all field trips were cancelled.

As for the future, who knows. Weaver said some of the things they have started this year will probably remain.

“Groups may become a little bigger and I would imagine the sanitation practices and cleaning will be around for a long time,” Weaver said.