Spirited Marco Y start to summer: ‘Big Bang’ Fridays and specialty camps add to attractions


As the recent epic downpours eased off and rays of sunshine peeked through, a host of other little rays of sunshine were whooping it up over at the Marco Y’s Youth Development Center.

The occasion was “Big Bang” day, a Friday summer camp tradition that lets youngsters blow off steam after a week of creative and educational programs at the Greater Marco Family YMCA.

JoJo Dorris prepares to shake plastic balls out of cups without using her hands.

But just in case they get a little over-boisterous playing games like table bowling, keeping balloons suspended in the air and packing tumblers, assistant summer camp director Caitlin Porter brings on temporary order to the proceedings.

“Y, M,” she says in a voice that has impressive enough volume to command silence.

“C, A,” respond the youngsters even more loudly.

More:As summer of adventure: City and Y offer camp programs

Porter outlines the next rotation of activities, and the children get back to their joyful organized chaos, either outside in the airnasium doing water exchange relays team games; or romping around playing the indoor games.

The Y’s summer camps are now in full swing, this year with themes that vary from “Camp Spirit” to “Pirates and Princesses/Aargh Matey”, while a host of specialty camps are scheduled over the coming months until the start of the new school year.

Maya Fernandez urges on a team member during a fun relay event at the Marco Y’s ‘Big Bang’ day end-of-the-week celebration.

“The spirit theme focuses on group activities as well as team activities and team building,” says Porter. “They also make mascots and banners. Depending on the time of day, they’re either outside (doing physical activities) or inside for math and literacy classes.”

The educational side is strongly emphasized by the Y.

Porter says a cool thing with the regular campers is that there’s a weekly field trip. Recently, for example, they visited Zoomers (a fun park) in Fort Myers, which was a big hit with the campers.

Swimming is another attraction available to regular campers.

Christian Rull lines up a table bowling shot.

Specialty camps have fees to cover costs, and include a theater camp from July 17 to 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ($100) in which participants will take part in a play called Haphazardly Ever After; A football camp from July 19 to 23, free, with former NFL players Jimmie Bell and Steve Grant on hand from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for drills; and a tennis and splash camp through the weeks of June 19 and 26 from 9 a.m. to noon (members $110, non-members $130).

Jayden Kleine hugs her buddy Leah Tomblin as they radiate the spirit of Marco Y summer camps.

There’s also a karate camp through the weeks of June 19, July 10 and Aug. 7 ($110 for members); a soccer camp from June 26 through 29 ($110, $130); a T-ball camp July 3 through 7 excluding July 4 ($110, $130); and a basketball camp July 10 through 13 ($110, $130) to round out a full schedule of activities.

A perk for specialty camp participants, says Porter, is that they can join the regular campers at the Youth Development Center for the rest of the relevant days.

Specifics on the camps are available on the marcoymca.org website, or by calling 394-3144. The Y also offers a wide variety of programs and activities for adults as well as youngsters year-round.

If you go

What: Y summer camp and specialty camps

When: Through Aug. 15

Weekly fees: $80 members, $90 non-members

Drop-ins: $20, $25 ($10 extra for field trips and $10 for camp T-shirts

Meals: Free breakfasts and lunches (through Meals of Hope), snacks

Hours: 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Ages: Elementary school

Parallel camp: Marco Island Charter Middle School (for middle schoolers)