Giving Kids Character, Confidence and Connection

Our goal for your child at the YMCA is to help them learn new skills, build character and make new friends. Summer Day Camp at your local Y is just the way to do that. This summer, we’ve focused our programs to give your child experiences that encourage them to get out of their comfort zone, grow and adventure out – whether it’s canoeing, caving, discovering new things at the Discovery Center, and especially splashing in the pool! The American Camping Association states 74 percent of kids try new things at camp, and 63 percent of parents say their children stick with new skills after leaving camp.

This summer at the G. Pearson Ward YMCA, we’ve also started a focus on empowering your child to take charge in their challenges. In the new programming called “Smörgåsbord” (Or, “Camper Choice”), your child is able to pick the area they go to – and then get to work with staff to try more things, build new skills, and ultimately make friends that may be outside of their regular group! These activities can include anything from climbing our 30-foot rock wall, to planning and rehearsing a play! Through building these new skills, kids also get an enhanced sense of self confidence – and are ultimately healthier and more well rounded.

Additionally, our goal this summer is to branch outside of our building – traveling into the heart of our city by visiting our local Park Central Library, meeting the librarians there and having literary adventures. Our kids also get the chance to stretch their legs through a partnership with St. Agnes School, where they are able to play many outdoor games and explore their playground. Jordan Valley Park is also another destination that our middle school students get to explore, just a short walk on the Jordan Creek Greenway from the YMCA – there they get to have a blast playing in the fountains, or just enjoy being with friends in the beautiful park. These fantastic trips are not only a great way to build a connection with the kids and the community, but also serve to get them physically active – a goal that we are constantly seeking as a Y.

Finally, as we strive to build a sense of adventure, our Middle School program, Camp Odyssey, is taking all new field trips – geared towards getting them out of the downtown area and encouraging a respect and love for nature. Our middle school aged youth take field trips to Doling Park to go cave diving, canoeing at Camp Wakonda, and creek stomping at Lost Hill Park. Many of our youth have never had the opportunity to do anything like these things before, and as they take these leaps – they are connected with other 11-14-year-olds who are going through the same things they are. The American Camping Association also points out that many children keep in touch with the friends they make at camp for years to come – up to 70 percent!

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