Summer Camp at Bay Oaks is now underway on Fort Myers Beach. It began Monday, June 5, and will run for the next 11 weeks, through Friday, August 4.
“We revamped pretty much everything from past summer camps,” said Fort Myers Beach Parks & Recreation Director Sean DePlama. “Previously, we scheduled large blocks of time basically for games, but it was the same handful of activities repeated from one week to the next, so for the kids it was too much of the ‘same old, same old.’ Now we diversify programming so we will not do the same event for at least three weeks. We formerly used for arts & crafts supplies left over from the school year; now we have a program curriculum, and purchase what we need directly for those classes.”
Camp is Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., at $75 for Bay Oaks Recreation Center members, and $100 for non-members, though Sean quickly points out that Bay Oaks offers camp scholarships with proof of income: “No child should ever be turned away because of family affordability,” he stresses! Activities include pool days, arts & crafts, kayaking, beach days, indoor games, and guest speakers, among other programs, with space still available.
“We emphasis diversity in our schedule,” continues Sean, “including new elements, like dance, along with mini-field trips, not only to local hot spots like the beach and Newton Park, but to some of our most-noteworthy businesses so they learn young to support our local economy.”
While camp is fun, Sean says “there is a larger community goal: children will come into an environment where they are physically and mentally safe, with a trained staff to allow them to prosper and develop in a comfortable setting, to grow and learn more about themselves. This is something we believe in, believe me! Our staff uses verbiage of respect, and we teach our kids to do the same with each other as well as in their personal lives. This may not be a tangible thing, but it is a vital aspect of camp and the Bay Oaks experience.”
Sean explained that by better allocating staff resources, he streamlined employees while improving programming at a reduced cost. “We have councilors-in-training (CIT) and volunteers, with a curriculum and expectations of how they carry themselves, to make camp fun and educational for everyone, including our first-ever special population junior CIT, who will shadow a year-round staff member.”
Bay Oaks is improving the FMB Community Pool as well. “A key thing is we are bringing in a Summer Swimmers Program that is basically an extension of swim club,” explains Sean. “This focuses on stroke development and how to improve performance in competitive swim meets. For the general public, the biggest advance is we are adding more open days throughout the year; our prior Winter schedule had us closing on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but we will now open the pool on those days, giving us a seven-days-a-week schedule, meaning we will better serve our taxpayers an additional 32 days-a-year, especially in March, April, and May. Finally, rather than doing all pool maintenance in January, when people really want to use it, we now split that in half, between January and August. The best part is, through better scheduling that focuses on peak times and eliminates low usage hours, we offer more days for less expenditures.”
Community Pool Summer hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Sundays from Noon to 6 p.m., and Fourth of July from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $4 for adult members age 13 & up and $7 for non-members, while children members are $2 and $5 for non-members, with infants free; call 239-463-5759 for additional information.
In other Bay Oaks news, it will host the Town’s annual parade on The Fourth of July, with it leaving the recreation center at 10 a.m. and proceeding north to the base of the Matanzas Pass Bridge, with additional Parks & Recreation activities in Times Square from 1 to 3 p.m. Bay Oaks is looking for people who want to be in the 4th of July parade. Gather your business, neighborhood or family and be a part of this island tradition! For details on how you can be in the parade, email Sarah@fmbgov.com or call 239-765-4222.
The recreation center building received new LED lights at the end of May, it will soon install the pool’s new geothermal system, with the new Bay Oaks air conditioning in early August. “We are adding three new fitness and dance programs to our evening schedule, and toward the end of July, will start a new series of old-school games, such as dodgeball, kickball, whiffle ball, and those oddity sports everyone loves!
“What we really, really need, however,” Sean says, “is retired professional people to volunteer, to share their expertise in customer service, people skills, team development, and other types of positive communication skills.” To volunteer or for other Bay Oaks information visit The Town of Fort Myers Beach Parks and Recreation, call 239-765-4222, or follow them on Facebook.