By Natalie Strom
Mackle Park is gearing up for summer! Plans are in the works for some very exciting camps for kids of all ages. Camp Mackle is back for its third year in a row while many other specialty camps will also be offered. Parents and their kids have the option to choose from a wide variety of programs that range in length and activity.
“Our Camp Mackle program starts the day after school ends,” explains Mindy Matusiak, Recreation Manager at Mackle Park. “The first day of camp we have a big water day, including a water slide, jello fights and water gun fights. It is our kick-off to summer camp.” With this summer’s Camp Mackle theme being, “Diving into a Sea of Fun,” a water-based day is the perfect way to start off the program.
Kids from ages 6 to 11 are welcome at Camp Mackle on a daily, weekly or full-summer basis. The day camp is held Monday through Friday, from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM, beginning June 7th and running through August 17th. “Everything is going to be water-based for this year’s camp,” adds Mindy. “We have field trips, guest speakers, crafts, games and activities, all being focused around the theme of the week.” Each week is sea life-themed. For example, one week will focus on the Arctic Ocean, with a field trip to the ice-skating rink at Germain Arena. The next week may focus on marine life within Southwest Florida. “One week we will have Marco Island Environmental Specialist, Nancy Richie as a guest speaker. That will be accompanied by a field trip to Tigertail Beach,” adds Mindy.
Camp Mackle also features a special lunch each Friday. Kids get to help make their lunch for the day, teaching them basic cooking skills while providing them with a healthy lunch. “We don’t allow any types of candy or soda during camp,” continues Mindy. “We are highly disciplined as to what the kids can and can’t do. We base our camp around the school system regulations.” One example is the addition of library time. By partnering with the Marco Island Public Library, kids at Camp Mackle will get to visit the library across the street for story-time and activities with the librarians. “The reading aspect with the librarians was actually a suggestion from the Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary.
“It’s very educational, but the way it is structured is that the kids are having a lot of fun and playing games while getting a bit of an education as well,” adds Mindy. “The parents really love the Camp Mackle Program. Knowing that their kids are safe and able to be outside is a great feature. The kids are not stuck inside playing video games all day, they get to do different indoor and outdoor activities throughout the day. It gives parents a sense of security when they are at work.”
Registration for the full summer camp program, June 7th to August 17th, costs $700 per child and has a deadline of June 1st. Kids can walk-in for the day at $20 per child, or for the week at $80.
“Our Summer Enrichment Camps are geared towards middle-school aged kids who are old enough to do something that’s a little more intense and specified,” explains Mindy. Enrichment Camps are broken up into different types of activities: aquatics, athletics, safety training and creative talent.
One of the most popular aquatic camps is Youth Sailing. Partnering with the Marco Island Community Sailing Center, Mackle Park will offer a number of sailing programs for beginning levels to more advanced stages. Sessions run for one week at a time at the Marco Island Yacht Club and are offered to ages 8 through 12.
The Endless Summer Adventures Paddle Boarding Camp is new to Mackle Park’s list of summer activities. Kids 10 years and older will learn the basics and proper techniques of paddle boarding while also getting an up-close look at our local ecosystem. This particular camp takes place at South Beach on Marco.
By way of athletics, Mackle Park is offering volleyball camps, soccer camps, beach soccer camps, freestyle martial arts, open gym tumbling and beginning baton twirling. Ages, dates and prices range for each activity.
Another new program offered falls under the category of safety training. Ages 11 through 15 can participate in the Safe Sitters Enrichment Camp. This course trains youth to provide safe, nurturing care for children and to respond appropriately to medical emergencies. CPR and First Aid training will also be taught. This is a one-day course, offered Wednesday, June 13th, for $75 per Marco resident or $90 for a non-resident.
Police/Fire Academy Enrichment Camp is also available for grades 6 though 8. For one week, the Marco Island Police and Fire/Rescue Departments will be hosting a course on the ins and outs of law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical response and much more. “It’s a pretty awesome camp and is very hands-on,” adds Mindy. The course takes place at the Marco Island Police Department.
Mackle Park has a wide array of creative talent camps as well. Jewelry making, theater camp and junior chefs camps are available throughout the summer. This year’s theater camp will be held at The Marco Players Theater. Two separate productions will be offered: “Hairspray” and “Happy Days.” Each camp session is two weeks long and features a final performance at The Marco Players Theater for parents.
This year’s Jr. Chefs Camp will be themed “Great Summer Grilling.” Youths ages 8 through 13 can join for a fun-filled week of learning how to grill outdoors. Each day a different meal is prepared and taken home to feed each camper’s family.
With a wide array of camp opportunities, Mackle Park offers something for everyone. Stop by the park today to sign up your child or give them a call at 239- 642-0575. Happy Camping!