THRILL SEEKERS REJOICE! Whether you’re a child or a child at heart, there are barrels of fun to be had and memories to be made this summer in Ave Maria.
Want to make a splash at the Ave Maria Water Park? No problem! Fancy a pinball game at the new Way Out Toys and Games store? Check! How about a chocolate lover’s sundae at Meltz? Got it! Would you and your friends like to laugh out loud for hours at Camp Ave Maria or take hip hop lessons at the dance academy? Better sign up quickly! Are you an athlete dreaming of being a college sports star? There’s something for you, too.
Meltz in your mouth.
Consider yourself lucky to live so close to an awesome, family-owned ice cream emporium where sweet treats can cool you down just about any time. Made to order with fresh ingredients, Meltz desserts are handcrafted to delight the taste buds. Their rolled ice cream starts with a proprietary liquid base that’s blended with customer-selected toppings, poured on a flash-freeze pan and fashioned into rolls using a special spatula. More than 40 toppings stand ready to ramp up the flavor punch.
Also on the menu are small-batch premium ice creams (including sugar-free and vegan options), made-to-order crepes stuffed with goodies like sliced bananas and Nutella, ginormous sundaes served with several spoons for sharing, and chocolate-covered key lime pie shipped directly from Key West.
“For me, the whole environment of sitting down with family and friends to enjoy some ice cream is absolutely nostalgic and one of the best feelings,” says Phil Stocton, a Maple Ridge resident and Meltz co-owner with his wife Patricia, who runs daily operations with their 18-year-old daughter, Amanda, a sophomore at Ave Maria University. The couple’s 20-year-old son, Nick, helps when he’s home from Florida International University in Miami, and Donahue Academy fourth-grader Lucy often stops by with friends to savor the merchandise.
“Everybody is happy when they eat ice cream,” Mr. Stocton says. “We deliver instant satisfaction. I love to see toddlers screaming with excitement, and to watch customers take selfies in front of our giant mural by local artist Manuela Cason. It means a lot that we can provide this opportunity for people to have fun and bond a little bit.”
At 5076 Annunciation Circle, Meltz is open from 2-8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 1-9 p.m. Friday, and noon-9 p.m. on weekends.
New to Ave Maria Town Center, Way Out Toys & Games has something for everyone. There are Pokemon trading cards and Dungeons
& Dragons and Funko Pop collectibles. There are DC and Marvel Silver Age comic books and vintage “Back to the Future” and “Jaws” movie posters. There’s even a room full of pinball machines that local wizards can play for just $1 per game.
For 25 years, proprietor and Ave Maria resident Shawn Jones has owned and operated similar stores in five states, including one at Coastland Center Mall in Naples. “People have been wanting more entertainment here,” he says. “Ave Maria is now big enough to support this kind of store.”
Watch for news about card game tournaments coming soon.
At 5064 Annunciation Circle, Suite 107, Way Out Toys and Games is open from noon- 6 p.m. Friday-Sunday. For updates, visit www.facebook.com/wayouttoysandgames.
Ave Maria Water Park
Nothing says “summer fun” like the Ave Maria Water Park – a poolside wonderland with a remarkable array of amenities and settings.
Adventurers seeking speed and splashes gravitate to the two giant waterslides, while sporty types can turn to four 25-meter lap lanes, a beach volleyball court, and water exercise classes to stay fit and fabulous. Little tykes love to wade and swing and slosh in their very own shallow pool with colorful slides and jungle-gym features, and grownups looking for a spa-style staycation luxuriate in the resort-style pool and cascading spa.
There’s something for everyone. Read about new additions — including the revamped Cannonball Cafe, a heftier cadre of lifeguards to keep everyone safe, and American Red Cross swimming lessons for children as young as 6 months — on page A14. Daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual pricing options make this an affordable summer option for the entire family. The park is at 4015 Anthem Parkway. For more information, call 239-348-8384.
Wholesome camp for kids
Now in its 14th year, Camp Ave Maria is popular for children ages 6-12 — as well as their parents — because it provides a safe and supervised setting for loads of fun, making friends, staying physically and mentally active, and learning new skills. Indoor and outdoor activities include relay races, obstacle courses, trivia contests, arts and crafts, talent shows, bingo, skits, scavenger hunts, and puppet shows. To incentivize civility and collaboration, when kids or their team win a game, perform a good deed, or exhibit positive behavior, they receive tickets to redeem for prizes they choose.
“I’m proud of the camp’s ability to bring good old-fashioned fun to the children,” says camp owner/director Karen Ledesma. “We don’t allow any electronics. There are no cell phones, no TV watching, no movies. It’s all-day fun, all summer long. The kids have a blast.”
At 5068 Annunciation Circle, Suite 103, Camp Ave Maria runs through Aug. 5, and it’s easy to jump in at any time throughout the summer. Families can choose from half-day camp (20 hours, morning or afternoon) at $100 per week, or full-day camp at $200 per week. Campers can sign up for partial weeks, and before/after care is also available. To register or for more information, call 239-261-2606, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.campavemaria.com.
Fun on the dance floor
Twice a week through Aug. 5, Ave Maria Dance Academy offers classes for kids ages 3 and older. “Dance classes are great for flexibility, coordination, motor skills, strengthening and conditioning,” says Ms. Ledesma, who is also the owner/director of the dance academy.
“The children learn technique, how to follow directions, listening skills, and discipline,” she says. “Working together toward an end goal, they feel a real sense of accomplishment while having fun and getting a sense of musicality and rhythm.”
Classes offered on Tuesdays are Ballet I for ages 6-10, Jazz for ages 6 and older, and Ballet II for ages 11 and older. On Thursdays, the academy offers Wee Dance for ages 3-4, Ballet-Tap Combo for ages 5-6 and Hip Hop for those 5 and older. Classes are $15 each. To register or learn more, visit www.avemariadance.com (click on the Summer Dance tab), call 239-261-2606, or email email@example.com. The academy is at 5068 Annunciation Circle, Suite 103.
Wacky wonders with science
Brought to North Park by the folks at Super Science & Amazing Art, this weeklong program promises kids ages 7-12 laughs, amazement, and lots of learning. Using items found in the kitchen and around the house, campers learn how to make gooey slime, bubbling potions, color-changing concoctions, and more. Activities run from 8:30 a.m.-noon Monday-Friday, July 18-22. Register via the Ave Maria Master Association calendar at www.avemariamasterassociation.com.
Sports camps at AMU
Ave Maria University (AMU) summer sports camps offer middle school and high school athletes one-on-one time with experienced coaches, giving them a feel for what it’s like to be a team player at the college level. It’s also a chance for AMU coaches to identify stars in the making and possibly offer them university scholarships.
This year, 100-150 students are expected to participate. Parents are welcome to watch the action from the stands.
Football Prospect Camp on Saturday, July 16, serves students in grades 9-12. “We put campers through positional drills and combine-style testing like the 40-yard dash, the shuttle run, and the broad jump, which helps us see how quick they are and helps them learn what they need to work on,” says Patrick Colligan, director of AMU football operations and prospect camp coordinator. Registration and check-in begin at 8:15 a.m., followed by a campus tour; camp activities run from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The cost is $35 with preregistration at www.tinyurl.com/ AMUprospect or $40 cash on the day of the event.
AMU’s Formula 6 Quarterback Clinic on Sunday, July 17, is for athletes in grades 8-12. During the Signal Caller Clinic from 8 a.m.- noon, campers take to the Gyrene field for coach-led drills and instruction. Cost for the morning is $75.
After lunch, from 1:30-6 p.m., campers and high school coaches are invited into the classroom for a Chalk Talk, where collegiate coaches and offensive coordinators propose methods to improve footwork, get the most out of signal callers and integrate tempo into offensive maneuvers. The afternoon instruction is $35. To register for either or both sessions, visit www.tinyurl.com/AMUquarterback.
Softball Prospect Camps for kids in grades 8-12 take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday Saturday, July 29-30, and Saturday, Aug. 13.
“Three or four AMU coaches will be on site, providing instant feedback. We’re ready to offer scholarships right away if they’re good enough,” says William Hampton, associate athletic director for AMU. “It’s an opportunity to feel like a college athlete for a day and a chance to impress coaches and perhaps move down the road, as far as playing at the next level.”
The cost, which includes a campus tour and lunch, is $250 for both days in July or $150 for just one day of camp in either July or August.
For more information about the football programs, email Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have questions about the softball camps, email email@example.com.
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