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Summer campers are welcome at Shell Factory

By CHUCK BALLARO - | May 11, 2021

File photo The Shell Factory is located on U.S. 41 in North Fort Myers.

The summer camp season is going to be a little shorter than usual, and Lee County Parks and Recreation is not going to be having field trips this summer.

The Shell Factory & Nature Park, though, still plans on being open for those who attend camps for churches, daycare centers and anyone else who may want to spend a day out.

Teachers and organizations not bound by or no field trip decrees or similar mandates will make the decisions on whether to come out.

Feedback has been very positive regarding their summer camp program, said Anne Sheridan, general manager at the Shell Factory.

“So far, the Boys & Girls Club of Charlotte County and a few daycares have expressed interest. Parents put their kids in a summer program and part of it are field trips,” said Mary Shirakawa, field trip coordinator. “Some places aren’t doing field trips, but some still are.”

“We are really trying to sell the self-tour more than before is because that might make people more comfortable, although the educational aspect is better when Mary guides them,” Sheridan said.

Summer camp groups which come to the nature park have the option of having a guided tour or self-tour of the grounds to see the more than 450 animals who reside at the park.

Inside the Eco Lab, attendees will find native and exotic snakes in reptiles. At the petting zoo, there are dwarf goats, alpacas, guinea pigs and much more.

Kids can do the mining rig or do things in the fun park. There also is a dinosaur park, playground and picnic area.

Sheridan said the tours are especially good for those with special needs, which gives them the opportunity to see the animals and have something positive to do.

“It’s really beneficial we start opening the field trips and camps for them,” Sheridan said, adding there is no age limit for those with special needs.

“If they are in a wheelchair and need someone to work with them one-on-one, their caregiver is not charged to come in,” Shirakawa said.

The basic park tour is $4 for children and $7 for adults. With gem mining, it’s $8 per child.

The Shell Factory & Nature Park is at 16554 N. Cleveland Ave., North Fort Myers. For more information, contract Shirakawa at 995-2141, extension 116.