Jessica Laino sat in a lifeguard chair at the front of the pool and watched closely during free swim at the Florida Keys Community College Fit Camp on a recent afternoon.
"The fact that we are around the pool all day sets us apart from other camps," said counselor Laino. "By the end of the first day I know every name. Some of the campers are here summer to summer so they build relationships with each other and with the camp counselors."
Fit Camp runs in week-long sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at FKCC, 5901 College Road, Stock Island.
The camp is based at the college swimming pool, but the participants visit various locations on campus such as the tennis courts and public safety building. Campers eat lunch outdoors near the cafe.
"This is an all day camp, we keep them busy throughout the day," said Director Lori Bosco. "The idea is to get the kids to go to a safe place this summer. We do some of everything here."
Water activities include swimming, snorkeling and safety lessons.
When not in the pool, campers do arts and crafts, play a variety of indoor/outdoor games, and take part in fitness exercises.
"We just made key chains, now we are doing free swim," said camp participant Yoel Lamadrid. "My favorite thing to do here is play tennis, it's really fun. We usually play on Monday or Thursday."
The staff does its best to accept everyone who applies, Bosco said.
Fit camp is for ages 7 to 11 and the cost is $160 per week, with sibling discounts available.
Since the youngsters do so much each day, they are supposed to bring a bag of things they may need such as a bathing suit, towel, sunscreen, a hat, flip flops, tennis shoes, a bag lunch, snacks, and dry clothes.
"We do fun activities every day, like play games at the tennis courts." said camper Kornelia Szostak. "We can get in the pool and play games everywhere we go. We even get to bring our electronics."