Thursday, January 27, 2022

Fun Summer Camp Options

Photo by Don ManleyRocky Cale, president of the Marco Island Community Sailing Center, discusses the organization’s youth summer programs with Diana Pagach at the program’s recent open house.

Photo by Don ManleyRocky Cale, president of the Marco Island Community Sailing Center, discusses the organization’s youth summer programs with Diana Pagach at the program’s recent open house.

By Don Manley

Local summer camp providers are gearing up to make the season informative and fun for the children they serve.

With the school year’s end just around the corner, children and parents have a broad assortment of options for making the summer a constructive one.

Camp Mackle

The City of Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department’s Camp Mackle is a multi-faceted program for youths in kindergarten through fifth grade. Camp Mackle operates on weekdays, from 7:30 AM to 6 PM, June 8 through August 5. The cost, on a per-child basis, is $20 a day, $80 a week or $630 for the full summer (due by June 7).

“It’s about having fun, but it’s also about educating the kids too,” said Lola Dial, recreation manager for the parks and recreation department.

Now in its seventh year, Camp Mackle’s 2016 theme will be “Mysteries of the Galaxy.” Campers will be treated to guest speakers and presentations, field trips, specialty craft projects, games, athletics and other valuable experiences. The camp provides children with opportunities to engage in hands-on activities, led by a trained counseling staff.

Activities are based at Frank E. Mackle Community Park, located at 1361 Andalusia Terrace.

Activities kick off on June 7 with the Marco parks and recreation department’s annual Schools Out Summer Bash for the island’s teenagers. From 1 to 5 PM there will be music and food, games, including dance contests, hula hoop games and other activities, including DJ Chris’ Fabulous Feud Game Show, with prizes awarded to the top three finishers.

The department also offers a special camp-related program entitled L.I.T. – Leader In Training – for youths in ninth through 12th grade who serve as volunteers working with the youths who take part in Camp Mackle. L.I.T. provides volunteers to rack up school volunteer and community service hours, or to simply engage in something productive and creative during the summer.

Camp Mackle will have a different weekly theme, starting with “Kick off to Camp Mackle” on Thursday, June 4 and Friday, June 5, followed by:

Ground Control, June 8-10

Prepare For Lift OFF! 3..2..1..Blast Off!, June 13-17

Milky Way/Supernovae, June 20-24

Seti (Search for Extra Terrestrials), June 27-July 1

Magnetic Spinners, July 5-8

Black Hole (The Timeless End), July 11-15

Dark Matter (The Invisible Galactic Halo), July 18-22

Dodging Comets and Asteroids, July 25-29

Danger!! Danger!! Hurricane Forecast Landing Location Needed!!!!, August 1-5

There are also several specialty camps that are part of the department’s summer offerings, such as:

Fishing Camp, for children 8-to-12 years old, which runs from 9 AM–3 PM, June 13-17 at the Mackle Park Teen Center. The camp will cover the basics of casting, knot tying, tack gear, fish identification and more. The cost is $85 for residents and $102 for non-residents.

Mixed Media Madness, for children in grades three through five. It runs from 10 AM– 12 PM, June 20-24. Students will have a different art project each day. The cost is $75 for residents and $90 for non-residents.

Lacrosse Camp for children in grades six through 12. The camp will fine tune the skills of players and introduce the game to beginners. The cost is $85 for residents and $102 for non-residents.

Jr. Chef: Diner Specials is the theme for the cooking program for children at least 8 years of age. It runs from 9 AM-12 PM, July 5-8. The cost is $108 for residents and $129 for non-residents.

Volleyball Camp, for children in grades four through seven. It runs from 9 AM-12 PM, July 12-15. The camp will help beginner to intermediate players with fundamental skills. The cost is $60 for residents and $72 for non-residents.

Paddle Boarding, which will run from 2–5 PM, July 18-22 at the Isle of Capri Paddle Craft Park. Children must be at least 10 years of age.

Marco Island Community Sailing Center

The Marco Island Community Sailing Center will again have a full slate of youth programs this summer, starting the week of June 12 and ending the week of August 7. “We have a beginner class, an intermediate class and an advanced class,” said Rocky Cale, president of the Marco Island Community Sailing Center. Youths from the ages of 8-18 can take part. The sailing center is located at the Marco Island Yacht Club beach. Prices vary, depending on the program. For more information or to register, visit or call 239-642-0575.

Police and Fire Academy

The annual Police and Fire Academy for youths entering sixth through eighth grade in the fall is set for June 13-17. Held from 9 AM-2 PM, at the police department, the cost is $40 for residents and $48 for non-residents.

“It’s a unique camp,” said Chris Bowden, public education coordinator for the city’s Fire-Rescue Department. “The kids get to see what a police officer does on a daily basis and what a firefighter-paramedic does on a daily basis, as well.”

Greater Marco Family YMCA

The Greater Marco Family YMCA’s annual summer camp will feature old favorites and one major new addition.

“This year, we’re really excited because our Marco summer camp will be housed within our new youth development center,” said Charlene Garcia, the Y’s school-age coordinator, of the $1.2 million, 5,750 square-foot, multi-use structure that opened last October.

The camp, for children in kindergarten through fifth grade, runs from June 13 through August 12 at the Y’s Sand Hill Street campus. Elementary school children must be 5 years old by June 1 to participate.

The camp offer an assortment of values-based, recreational and educational activities, such as swimming, arts and crafts, gym time, sports and outdoor exploring, along with free breakfast and lunch. There are also weekly field trips, special guest visitors and a different theme each week. For example, June 13 through June 17 will be “Let’s Get Fit for Fun” week, while July 4 through July 8 will be “Carnival Craze Week.”

The special guest visitors will include former professional athletes from Sports World Ministries, who conduct field activities and leadership-focused discussions.

New this year is the addition of a fitness program that includes assessing children at the start, midpoint and end of the camp. “The goals are, one, that the children have an awareness of physical fitness and two, that they have goals for physical fitness,” said Garcia.

There will also be pool days for children from all camp sites at the Y’s Ms. Dottie Weiner Aquatics Center, as well as “Big Bang” parties every Friday. Families will be welcomed to attend the parties, which could include children and staff dressing up in costumes inspired by the weekly theme.

Campers at the Y campus will utilize computers in the youth development center’s technology center. They will also tend vegetables, fruits and herbs planted outside the center by children from the after-school program as part of the new Green Thumb program nutrition education program. The produce will be used in preparing healthy snacks and meals in the youth development center’s Publix Super Market kitchen.

And as always, there will be special camps for specific sports, such as basketball, volleyball, tennis, karate, football, soccer, swimming, baseball, gymnastics and more.

The summer camp program provides fun and academic benefits to the children, by providing instruction that enables them to remain at grade-level or above in math and reading, rather than regressing over the summer. Assessment tests are administered at the camp’s start, its mid-point and at its conclusion.

Need-based scholarships are available to children requiring assistance. For more information about the summer camp program, scheduling and enrollment, visit or call 239-394-9622. The Greater Marco Family YMCA is located at 101 Sand Hill St.

Island Theater Company 

For youngsters who yearn to take the stage there’s the Island Theater Company Summer Camp, which will run from 9 AM to 3 PM, July 5 to July 22.

The camp will teach theater basics, including stage direction, terminology, auditioning, the production process, lighting and sound and more. The program is designed for beginner through experienced student actors. All activities are designed to develop imagination, concentration, character, professionalism and technique to strengthen command of the body and voice.

All participants will be given a part in the Island Theater Company production of The Lion King Jr. Principle roles will only be given to those attending all three weeks of camp

The camp directors will be Marissa Secades and Christopher Cheng, who are theater majors at Florida State University and Miami Dade College, respectively.

“It’s definitely going to be a fun time,” said Secades. “We’re really excited about the musical. We have a lot of spots open so we’re definitely encouraging kids to sign up whether they’ve had theater experience or not.”

All classes and performances will take place at Marco Lutheran Church, located 525 N. Collier Boulevard. For more information and to hold your spot, contact for a registration form.

Marco Island Center for the Arts

The Marco Island Center for the Arts also has a slate of summer classes and workshops for youths.

Kicking things off is the Family Fun with Coil Bowls workshop from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM on June 18. Children ages 7 to 14 and adults of any age are invited to learn how to fashion bowls over slump or hump molds, using different thicknesses of extruded coils. The cost is $30.

Next up is the Digital Photography Basics Workshop for ages 10 through 14. The class will examine composition, color versus black-and-white photography and explore different photographic forms, such as portraits, landscapes and documentary. Camera operations and what’s proper when uploading photos to social media will also be covered. The class runs from 1 to 4 PM, June 27-29. The cost is $65, which includes all materials and use of a camera.

The offerings also include:

Functional Pottery Workshop for ages 9-12. Runs 9:30 AM -12:30 PM, July 11-15. The cost is $115 per student.

The Coolest Kids Art Class EVER! for ages 7-14. The class is from 9:30 AM -12:30 PM. Week one runs July 11-15. Week two is July 18-22. The cost is $105 per week.

Playmaking Workshop for ages 9-14. The theater class is from 1–4 PM, July 25-29. The cost is $100 per student.

For more information about the Marco Island Center for the Arts’ summer schedule of youth programs visit or call 239-394-4221.

Other Options

This list is not exhaustive. There are numerous other programs provided for our local children to keep them having fun this summer. Other summer camp options are available through Collier County Parks and Recreation (, the Naples Zoo (, and a number of churches and other organizations.

Happy camping!

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