Y Stories

Stay up-to-date with the latest news and happenings from the Ozarks Regional YMCA and its 7 branches.

Lake Transforms Camp Wakonda

YMCA Camp Wakonda in Ash Grove, Mo., has good bones. This was my impression as I drove home after an investigatory trip. The buildings were sound, the pool and water system were new, and the grounds were what one would expect to find in the Ozark Mountains—thick hardwood forests, steep and rocky terrain, and plenty of water flowing through the property. A 1-acre farm pond sat on the most recent 18 acres added to the 80- acre existing property. The district executive told me that someday that spring-fed pond could be converted into a lake. It seemed like a distant pipe dream; little did I know how soon things would change. Eight months later, while working on a large landscaping project, I ment

Gold Medal Goals

Faith Guyer is 15 years old and has been swimming on the Lebanon YMCA swim team since she was 10 years old. Faith will tell you her goal in life is to represent the United States as an Olympic swimmer. This would be far out of reach for most, but not Faith. She is in the pool ten to fifteen hours per week with the YMCA Lebanon Yellow Jacket swim team. It is not unusual to find Faith putting in hard work pushing herself before practice and while the rest of the team is “on break”. Along with achieving high point or runner-up at most Y meets, Faith has a 14th place national virtual meet award in the 200 Individual Medley event. Her proudest moment was in March 2016 at the Heartland Area Cha

Strength and Confidence

I have been morbidly obese almost my entire life. I have been on many diets starting at ten years old. My highest weight was 435 lbs. I started this weight loss journey in December 2014. My husband bought me a membership to the YMCA to try to lose the weight (with exercise) instead of getting gastric bypass surgery. I am so forever grateful of him for doing that for me. He too has struggled with things in his life and used exercise to help him feel better. We have both found a love for fitness we never thought we would have. I met Jill Kleier, my trainer, when I got a few free sessions from the YMCA. This woman has changed my life. I don’t think there has been a more supportive person of my

Learning in the Outdoors

Springfield Public Schools is committed to providing engaging, relevant and personal learning experiences for every student, every day. SPS has found that students’ passion for learning increases when they can explore real-world problems through hands-on experiences in engaging environments. This has been demonstrated through current programs like WOLF, Health Sciences Academy, GO CAPS and Academy of Exploration. Now, thanks to a partnership between SPS and Ozarks Regional YMCA, fourth-grade students from eight elementary schools will broaden their horizons through a new learning experience this fall. During a six-week, project-based learning unit students at Bissett, Bowerman, Boyd, Watkins

Learning Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Recently, a long time mentor and role model of mine asked “If kids are scared of butterflies, how will they become great business leaders in a board room?” This came from someone who I knew had deep concerns about children, their safety, their feelings, and their future. He was really talking about kids growing up to be prepared for future challenges who needed more opportunities and expectations so they aren’t afraid to take things on. Kids need experiences that help them step out of their comfort zone, while helping them to understand reasonable boundaries and keeping them reasonably safe. These experiences help with critical thinking skills and lead to success in the future. The new Chall

Way to Y-Bee

Who are the Y Bees? They are a dedicated group of volunteers comprised of YMCA Camp Wakonda Alumni, their family, friends and other philanthropists. For the past 30 years the Y Bees have gathered over the long Labor Day Weekend to assist camp in whatever areas were needed. The Y Bees have built or made renovations and repairs on every building and structure in camp. They are an incredible group of men and women who run the entire weekend, they work with the camp director to plan the projects, order and purchase materials, order and purchase the food, prepare, serve and clean up meals and work hard all weekend to have projects completed by Monday morning! This year’s ambitious efforts include

Member Spotlight: Amy Temple

I won the weight loss challenge at my job, one of the Y’s Corporate Partners, Gold Mountain Communications. I lead all of the wellness initiatives for my workplace, troubleshooting for a team of 500 people that fit the social norm for wellness. It is a staggering fact that 80% of Americans are overweight, but it makes sense. We’re a society of convenience and ease, and it’s hard to convince ourselves of how valuable it is to challenge ourselves. Actual health and wellness benefits only come from being committed to being successful. Personally, I haven’t ever really tried to diet or lose weight before. 32 crept up on me, and I think I took my youth for granted for far too long and justifie

Making a "Pawsitive" Difference

How a yellow Labrador Retriever spent his summer helping five Springfield students dramatically improve their reading skills is one of the most remarkable stories of the year. Henry, a one-year-old Certified Therapy Dog, spent one day a week with kids enrolled in Summer Day Camp at The Fairbanks, where kids reading below grade level could practice reading aloud to him while improving their literacy skills. Results were remarkable. When the program started, it was a struggle for some of the kids to finish a whole book, but by the end of the 6-week program, each child was easily completing the stories they read to Henry. One 5th grade student reading at a 3rd grade level completed the progr

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