Summertime is always a favorite time of the year for kids. Parents, on the other hand, have to find ways to engage their children and keep them entertained, from when school ends until it starts up again. Luckily, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina has families covered with summer camp options for everyone. From traditional camp to sports-themed camps, and even residential camp options, every child in your family can find a place they will love at the Summer Exploration Academy.
Over the last year, the YMCA has been working to change their camp experience to help children stay engaged in learning throughout the summer. The new experience, now called the “Summer Exploration Academy,” will focus on STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—and literature skills in addition to encouraging kids to explore outdoor play and physical activity. Vice President of Youth Development, Kim McClure, said, “We have rebranded our summer camp to focus on high-quality, safe programming with an emphasis on education throughout the summer. You will notice that reading, STEM activities, and even college and career prep for teens will be themes throughout our programs. We want to help children stay engaged in learning throughout the summer by incorporating learning into fun activities they will enjoy.”
This summer, the YMCA will do a soft launch of several evidence-based curriculum programs to keep summer learning going strong. Kidz Lit and Kidz Math—activities that allow kids to have fun without even knowing it—will be added to summer camp programs across the board. This curriculum will incorporate literature and math skills throughout the summer and will be done several times a week with campers. They will also celebrate National Summer Learning Week from July 8th to the 13th, by placing a special focus on learning during this time.
Another evidence-based program they will use this summer is “Coordinated Approach To Child Health,” also known as CATCH. This program focuses on healthy eating and physical activity. McClure went on to say, “Part of our focus on healthy eating will include the lunches that we serve at all the camps. We understand that summer can be a time of food insecurity for some children and we can use our camps as an opportunity to feed them healthy meals and teach them about healthy eating.” CATCH is also a great opportunity for campers to get outside. “Our campers spend a lot of time outside,” says McClure “We want them to learn to enjoy outdoor play and that there are more options than TV, gaming, and tablets. We do bring them inside during the hotter hours of the day to enjoy swimming and reading. It’s a good balance.” With the combination of the learning programs and the health-focused program, they are able to make their camps a well-rounded experience for campers.
There are a variety of camps available at the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina. Traditional camps are available at all of the YMCA branches for children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. Some of the branches offer preschool and teen options, as well. YMCA Camp Hanes offers two options for campers. There is residential camp, where parents drop campers off on Sunday and pick them up on the following Saturday. Day camp, another available option, is offered from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and campers can take a bus from a few different branch locations to spend the day at YMCA Camp Hanes. There are also options for sports camps and themed camps throughout the YMCA branches. You also have the option to sign your child up for swim lessons or sports camps during their traditional camp day. They will be transported to those activities by the YMCA staff. The options are endless and there really is something for everyone at YMCA of Northwest North Carolina’s Summer Exploration Academy.
If you would like more information about the Summer Exploration Academy, you can call Iris Gress, Administrative Assistant for Youth Development, at 336-727-4849, or visit their website at ykidscamp.org. The website will give you specifics about which camps are available at each location. There are locations available all across Forsyth County and all of Northwest North Carolina.