ANNA MARIA -- More than a dozen young voices filled a large room Tuesday inside the Anna Maria Island Community Center.
A cluster of children bent over Legos at a long white table while others worked individually on crafts. In a corner was a larger-than-life drawing of a Christmas tree with handmade paper ornaments glued to it.
A girl's pajama pants were coated in Disney princesses, and a boy wore menacing-looking dinosaurs on his.
It was the second day of the center's winter break camp, and campers were appropriately dressed for "PJ Day w/Pancakes." In the morning, the children ate pancakes with their choice of rainbow sprinkles, whipped cream, chocolate or maple syrup.
By the afternoon, great excitement was building among the campers just three days before Christmas.
"They've been talking about Santa all day," said camp counselor Rachel Brier with a laugh.
Emerson Edixon, 7, sat quietly by herself making Christmas cards for her family. The Anna Maria Elementary School second-grader had just finished outlining hearts in yellow crayon. The words "I LOVE
YOU" were spread across the sheet of paper, which she planned on giving to her grandmother. Underneath the card was another she had already made for her grandfather, complete with a Christmas tree and blue wreath.
"I think that they might enjoy it a lot," Emerson said of her card recipients.
Emerson nodded when asked if she was excited about Christmas. She included an American Girl doll on her wish list, which she left by the chimney for Santa Claus.
Nearby, Giliany Aldiva sat in front of a Lego house she created with a backyard. She could barely contain her excitement about the upcoming holiday.
"My family celebrates Christmas, and I can't wait till Christmas comes," the 7-year-old in pink pajamas said. "I just feel like whoo!"
Giliany said Santa was going to give her a tablet this year.
"I really want to get all kinds of Monster Highs, but my mom just won't let me," Giliany said, in reference to the popular Mattel doll franchise inspired by monster movies and sci-fi horror. "They're like monsters and they have powers -- some of them."
Winter break camp at the Anna Maria Island Community Center has been fun so far for 8-year-old Anthony Nguyen. Going to the gym and free time were his favorite parts of the day and so was watching the Tom Hanks movie "The Polar Express."
Like his peers, Anthony is excited about Christmas.
"(I feel) good because we get presents and that's when Jesus is born," he said.
Anthony said his mother told him he and his siblings have to be "extra good" this time of year because this is when Santa decides if children will receive gifts. He said he thinks he's going to get what he asked for: a remote-controlled helicopter, new soccer ball and an Xbox game.
"I watched my brother and my sister," he said of his good deeds. "And whenever I went home, I did my homework right away so my mom wouldn't have to tell me to."
AMICC's winter break camp runs through Jan. 5 and will take campers to the Daikin Dairy Farm and the indoor trampoline park Jumpin' Fun.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.