Come for a day, or stay and play, but bring your scout troop to Fort Myers, Naples and Sanibel toearn some merit badges on a fabulous Florida play-cation. This Gulf area’s exciting mix of unique eco-systems, water sports, marine life and diverse attractions offer ample opportunities to work on requirements for scouting badges. Families on vacation will be visiting many of these exciting attractions anyway, so get some of those badge requirements checked off while you’re here! Start with these five unique, family-friendly activities in and around Fort Myers to get children excited to learn and earn while vacationing with or away from the troops back home.  

1. Dive Into an Ocean of Mystery

 Open daily 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., visit the only shell museum in the country. Learn about shells around the world, in art and history. See exhibits of fossils and life-size models of giant ocean creatures. Find out the best beaches to go shelling.The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museumis located at 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel, 33957, or telephone 239-395-2233, or 888-679-6450. 
Ask your concierge about booking your kids a guided kayaking or canoeing adventure on inland rivers or along the Gulf shore. Snorkel together exploring sea life below the surface. Hike, bike and camp local national parks for wildlife and flora. Botanical gardens, butterfly and bird aviaries, the barrier islands, the Naples zoo–so much to see and do. You packed yet? 

2. Calling All, From Brownies to Eagle Scouts

Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Center is situated on 110,000 acres in Naples, where the sea greets streams and rivers to form part of one of the few remaining pristine mangrove estuaries on the continent. Upland hammocks, scrub and protected waters are home to many endangered and threatened birds and animals. Exhibits, displays of live animals and a film about this preserve let scouts explore the unique environmentof estuaries. Located at 300 Tower Road, Naples, 34113, telephone 239-417-6310. 

3. Yum: Did Someone Say Pretzel Tour?

Yes! Auntie Anne’s Pretzels offers an interactive pretzel field trip that includes history of this savory or sweet bread and a pretzel twisting lesson followed by one of the yummy treats and lemonade. Located in the Edison Mall at 4125 Cleveland Avenue, Fort Myers, 33901, telephone 239-275-6333 for more information. What a great way to beat the heat or escape a rainy day stuck indoors. 

4. Babysitting Boot Camp and Boating

Your Scout may or may not want to go into babysitting business, but the real skills in these two very different settings are all about safety, first aid and leadership. Babysitting Boot Camp is a six-hour course including first aid, CPR and babysitting skills. Boating safety and knot tying clinic prepares them for navigating in the water and staying safe while there. Call or email for available programs during your stay.Email Collier County Parks and Recreation, 1895 Veterans Oak Drive, Naples, 34108, or telephone 239-566-2367. 

5. Skating for All Scouts of All Ages

Gliding across ice or rolling on a maple wood rink, scouts of all ages can work onrequirements for skating or sportsat both of these top southwest Florida rinks. 
Fort Myers Skatium – This program includes on and off-ice instruction including a 30 minute lesson, skate rental and practice time. Scouts receive a Skatium Girl Scout patch, certificate of participation and evaluation form. Located at 2550 Broadway, Fort Myers, 33901,email with questionsor telephone 239-321-7516. 
Bamboozles Skating & Event Center – However you like to roll on sleek inline or four-on-the-floor quads, tell the staff which badge you want to work on, and they will design interactive activities, contests and games to combine with skating for Girl Scouts of all levels to meet their badge requirements. Convenient to Fort Myers inland and island resorts and hotels, Bamboozles is located at 2095 Andrea Lane, Fort Myers, 33912. Email [email protected] or telephone 239-482-7789. 
Girl Scout Triptionary is a cool guide of local volunteers and organizations in Florida counties who offer opportunities to Girl Scouts for learning and earning badges and patches. Pack your handbook, and ask when you plan your trip if they have any Boy Scout or Girl Scout merit badge programs, because imagine how thrilled the Scout in your family will feel to get that merit credit while having fun they planned on anyway.