LaBelle Fossil Camp explores sites along the Caloosahatchee River

The annual LaBelle Fossil Camp is for boys and girls from 8 to 14 years old with an interest in fossil hunting. Campers learn about the LaBelle area before the coming of humans, through fossil identification and field fossil hunting experiences. In the lab, next to the Barron library, the campers will learn about the diversity of prehistoric life that lived in the LaBelle area.

I join Scott Perry – a fossil hunter since he was a kid and the founder of LaBelle Fossil Camp – to go fossil hunting for the day. On the boat he explains what a day of fossil hunting looks like: “We start our day with breakfast in the lab at 8 a.m. After that the campers learn about fossil identification through games and other activities before we get on the boat,” Scott Explains.

After a beautiful boat ride on the Caloosahatchee River it’s on to the field experience: the campers excitedly disembark the boats and throw off their life-jackets. They have arrived in Fort Denaud, where the archaeological site is. At the site the kids try to find fossil evidence of prehistoric life in the area. After two hours of fossil hunting and a short lunch break the campers get back onto the boat for the long trek back to LaBelle. To stay entertained – as sailors do – the kids pick up the variety of instruments that are on board and start playing songs, until the cabasa shaker falls overboard! Immediately the crew goes into man-overboard-procedure. The captain circles back while one of the fossil hunters jumps in the lifeboat and grabs the cabasa shaker to save it from drowning.

After celebrating the rescue of the cabasa shaker the fossil hunters have one more stop; the ‘Army Strong’ site. In the banks of the Caloosahatchee River the campers successfully dig for more fossils.

Back in the lab the kids identify their findings: shark teeth, fossilized turtle shells, jars of river water and limestone matrix. Interested in Fossil Hunting? Contact Scott Perry at 409-502-9029 or stop by at the Barron Library, 461 N Main St, LaBelle.

Geoffrey Ionescu can be reached at

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