By MEGHAN McCOY
Although the thought of another school year is in the forefront, families still have an abundance of opportunities to engage in throughout Lee County for some extended fun before classroom learning begins.
The beach at the Cape Coral Yacht Club is always available for fun daytime activities.
Cape Coral offers 39 parks, 20 of which have playgrounds suitable for ages 3 to 12, throughout the city, offering ample opportunities for a day of fun.
"Families can go out and go for a picnic or take the kids to the playgrounds and not have to worry about the organized events," Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Marketing Coordinator Michelle Dean said.
A popular destination, Eagle Skate Park and the William Austen Youth Center, offers plenty for the youngsters to do until school begins. The center has two camps before Monday, Aug. 18, the first day of school, which features water, crafts and adventures the week of Monday, Aug. 4, and Monday, Aug. 11.
There are two public beaches, Yacht Club and Four Freedoms Park, for families to enjoy a day in the water, the Yacht Club pool, which is open every day, or Sun Splash Family Waterpark.
Sun Splash has a few events scheduled before the season ends on Sunday, Sept. 14.
Mom's Monday, which allows mother's to get into the park for $10.99 with the purchase of a regularly priced child, will continue through August.
The final Family Fun Night will be held Saturday, Aug. 9, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Sun Splash Manager Sandra Greiner said the event will include discounted admission of $7 for residents and $9 for nonresidents. The night will also include raffles and a visit from its mascot.
"We try to make it a fun night and a cheap night, so anyone can enjoy it," she said.
An Aqua Theater Night has also been added, due to a previous date being canceled because of rain. "Frozen" will be shown Friday, Aug. 15, from 6-10 p.m. Admission is $9 for residents and $10 for nonresidents.
"That will be the last good bash before they go back to school," Greiner said.
Aqua Theater Night will include full concession and access to the entire park.
"The only thing is you get a movie along with the park that night," she said. "It's a good deal."
Once the kids return to school, Sun Splash will remain open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park is also open for Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 30-31, with specials on Labor Day, Monday, Sept 1. Greiner said military will get in for free that day and up to four family members will get $5 off of their ticket price.
Dean said Cape Coral also offers 10 approved fishing locations, two of the most popular being the Yacht Club pier and Jaycee Park, since they are both located on the Caloosahatchee River.
There are also two big environmental parks, Four Mile Cove Ecological Preserve and Rotary Park Environmental Center, which both have several nature walking trails and opportunities to see wildlife.
If recreational activities do not grab family's attention, the Lee County Library System is offering a few fun programs at the beginning of August before the grind of classroom and homework assignments begin.
"It's a last chance to have some fun before becoming serious about their scholastic efforts," library program coordinator Kristy Kilfoyle said.
One of the programs offered at Cape Coral Public Library, Northwest Regional Library and Pine Island Public Library is Kids Read Down Fines.
"It's a way for children and teens to earn coupons to pay down library fines," she said.
There are 11 opportunities for the youngsters to clean up the fines that accumulated over the summer during the first two and a half weeks of August.
For every 15-minutes of reading, children and teens 18 and younger can earn a $2 coupon, with an opportunity of earning $8 a day.
The program is offered on numerous dates and times from Saturday, Aug. 2, through Saturday, Aug. 16.
Another program offered for middle and high school students is Craft Corner: Knitting and Crocheting. The program is offered Monday, Aug. 4, at 3:30 p.m. and Monday, Aug. 11, at 3:30 p.m. at Cape Coral Public Library.
The last program before school starts is Back-to-School Craft on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at Cape Coral Public Library.
Kilfoyle said they are hoping the summer reading program, "Fizz Boom Read!," which ended on July 31 helped in preventing the summer slide that kids typically experience with decreased reading skills and performance.
"We hope the programs that we do provide help bridge those gaps," she said.
Pastor Brett Furlong said Fellowship Park was completed a little over a month ago on the property of Cape Christian Fellowship.
The park includes two large playgrounds with swings, four lighted half court basketball courts, a lighted sports field, three covered pavilions with lighting, fans and electrical outlets available to rent, Tony & Ada's Caf and Cape Coral's only splash pad.
The splash pad, Furlong said, is a little under 4,000 square feet with 57 different fountains programmed to shoot water up and down.
The cafe, which offers natural, organic foods and drinks, is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week and offers natural, organic foods and drinks.
Furlong said the cafe offers high end fair trade coffee that is freshly roasted within seven days of being served, as well as organic milk from a farm outside of Sarasota. The cafe serves freshly made gourmet crepes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also a kid friendly meal featuring macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese on a crepe.
He said the kids menu also features organic cheddar bunnies and all natural juice boxes.
The park is open from dawn to dusk and is free for the community to enjoy.
Cape Christian Fellowship is located at 2110 Chiquita Blvd. South.
Other Lee County
There are many camps offered in Fort Myers during the first two weeks of August for youngsters to enjoy that will engage their curiosity of Water Works, Explorations into Technology, Rocket to the Stars and Edison and Ford story book writing.
The Broadway Palm Children's Theatre is also offering one last performance before students of Lee County go back to school.
Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium
remaining summer camps
The Calusa Nature Center has two remaining summer camps during the month of August for youngsters ranging in age from 5 to 13 years old.
The first camp, Water Works, Water You Doing?, will be held from Monday, Aug. 4, through Friday, Aug. 8, for campers 5 to 7 years old. Youngsters will learn and explore how fish sleep, how dolphins talk underwater and why crayfish swim backwards.
The second portion of Water Works, Hydrodunamas, the Power of Water, is for ages 8 to 13. The campers will learn about tsunamis, whirlpools and monsoons.
Kids will enjoy water balloon fights and slip and slides on the last day of camp. It is open to 25 youngsters.
The final camp of the summer, Five Senses and Counting, will be held from Monday, Aug. 11, through Friday, Aug. 15.
Animal Sense, a camp held for ages 5 to 7, will learn about how animals use its five senses.
The second portion of the camp, The Limits of Our Senses for ages 8 to 13, will be participating in experiments that will reveal how much senses can inform them.
Both camps are limited to 25 participants.
For more information about the camps, visit calusanature.org. The Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium is located at 3450 Ortiz Ave.
Imaginarium Science Center
August summer camps
The Imaginarium Science Center also has two remaining summer camps before school starts on Aug. 18.
The first camp, Tech Talk: Explorations into Technology, will be held from Monday, Aug. 4, through Friday, Aug. 8. Youngsters will explore programming, circuitry and electronics in recent technology advances. The campers will also have the opportunity to program an interactive story, as well as light up some LEDs during the camp.
The final camp, Rocket to the Stars, will be held from Monday, Aug. 11, through Friday, Aug. 15. Campers will identify eight planets and star-gaze the constellations. The youngsters will take a field trip to the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium during this camp.
For more information, visit www.imaginariumfortmyers.com.
The Imaginarium Science Center is located at 2000 Cranford Ave.
Edison & Ford Winter Estates
offers two new August summer camps
Edison & Ford Winter Estates is offering two new summer camps this August before school starts. The first camp is "Edison Story Book Writing" from Monday, Aug. 4, through Friday, Aug. 8, and the second is "Ford Story Book Writing" from Monday, Aug. 11, through Friday, Aug. 15.
The summer camps offer the campers an opportunity to become an author and illustrator by creating a book to share with others. The youngsters will work in teams to create a book about the two inventors, while learning from local authors and artists.
For more information, visit www.edisonfordwinterestates.org.
Broadway Palm Children's Theatre
"The Little Mermaid" is the final showing before school starts at the Broadway Palm Children's Theatre. The performance includes lunch at noon and the show at 1 p.m., Friiday, Aug. 1 and Saturday, Aug. 2. The classic story will tell the tale of a mermaid striking a deal with the wicked sea witch to live her life as a human.
Tickets, which include lunch and the show, are $18 for kids of all ages.
The theatre is located at 1380 Colonial Blvd. For more information, visit www.broadwaypalm.com.