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Sure, the kids will go on learning over summer vacation.

One of the first things they might need to learn is how to keep themselves occupied in the absence of the scholastic calendar – but on Friday afternoon, they got a little help in that regard from the island’s municipal government. With an early dismissal day and the school year winding down, the City of Marco Island Parks & Recreation Dept. once again held the annual “Teen Party” for local students, from sixth grade to 12th, to have some supervised fun, complimentary refreshments, and ease into the summer.

The celebration used to be called the “Beach Bash,” and was held on the beach for years, before a string of years with bad weather days convinced the Parks & Rec staff to relocate to Mackle Park, with its “air-nasium” and indoor facilities.

While the looming storm system offshore kept temperatures comfortable, many of the teens opted to stay indoors, hanging out in the lounge of the teen program. Even surrounded by their friends and recreational equipment, many of them had their noses buried in their phones, which seems for many to provide the entertainment source of choice.

Some, though, did take up paddles at the ping pong tables, practicing trash talking at the same time as table tennis. Some acted like sensible adults, picking up and reading the newspaper– made more interesting for the Marco Island Charter Middle School students as the cover story of the current issue of the Marco Eagle featured their school’s recent band concert, in which many of the students performed.

Kids enjoyed the inflatable obstacle house, which updated the “bounce house” concept for older kids, racing each other through its series of constricted openings. They also shot hoops at the inflatable basketball booth, with side-by-side nets, and seemed to think that just because they couldn’t sink a throw from the foul line, that was no reason not to try from 35 feet out.

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MIPD Officer Angel Casabona showed them how it was done, putting in a one-hand set shot and proclaiming “nothing but net.” He was joined by Sgt. Mark Haueter, in what is probably a sad commentary on the need for armed protection for innocent childhood fun in today’s school environment. But the officers seemed to enjoy themselves, and Haueter gave a thumbs up to the selection of hot dogs, unlike last year’s turkey franks.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Dept. is hosting a series of enrichment camps and teen activities at their “Camp Mackle” throughout the summer, with a host of specialized instruction and participation opportunities. More information is available at the city’s website, or by calling 239-642-0575.

The parents of the teens will have their own end-of-season celebration, at the cocktail lounge, the day the kids go back to school.

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