“Mom and Dad, I’m bored,” is a common refrain heard by many parents during the summer months. Parents face the challenge of keeping their children engaged in positive activities and out of mischief by offering them fun, interesting and exciting things to do. A hectic work schedule makes this seemingly impossible.
This is when many families turn to the St. Petersburg YMCA. Even though the YMCA has been a part of the fabric of St. Petersburg life since 1920, the group looks to the future by embracing changes that address the current needs of the children they serve. According to Tim Staley, YMCA’s Chief Operating Officer, over the past couple of years the organization has been “redefining and rebranding camps to make it much more child-focused, by offering activities children want to do.” The YMCA programs also seek to reduce summer learning loss in areas such as reading by concealing educational content in fun activities.
The YMCA offers Summer Camps at four locations: Childs Park, Jim and Heather Gills, Bardmoor, and their newest location, Central Campus. Each site offers traditional Summer Camp programs for elementary school-aged children from ages five through 12. Activities in the traditional program would include things like arts and crafts, music, theatre and dance, swimming and much more.
But this year, there is something new! The YMCA is offering Specialty Camps. There are nine Specialty Camps, including Golf Camp, Culinary Camp, Sailing Camp, Girl Power Camp, Soccer Camp, Basketball Camp, Science Camp, CSI Camp and Fishing Camp. The CSI Camp, for instance, is part science, part sleuth, part inventor and a whole lot of fun! The weekly themes for the CSI Camp vary, but your little detective might be interested in Secret Agent Lab: Funky Forensic. Or how about Spy Academy: Mission Impossible? Mad Science Tampa Bay and the St. Petersburg Police Department also will make an appearance during the week.
In the Culinary Camp, campers receive basic cooking instruction, information about nutrition, and how food is processed. Visits to a community garden, fish market and food distribution center also round out the experience. Your little campers will also learn manners, etiquette and the proper placement of utensils at table settings, skills that are thought to be dying arts!
The Girl Power Camp will help to “empower your daughter with the skills, language and self-confidence to develop a positive image about women everywhere”—a most timely issue. These women-of-tomorrow will learn financial skills, character development, antibullying practices and finish the week with a trip to the spa.
Specialty camp weeks can be interspersed with traditional camp weeks, and the YMCA makes it so easy! Simply drop off your youngsters at the most convenient location, and the YMCA staff will transport the children to the appropriate location for their camp.
The YMCA will employ roughly 50 staff this summer to serve the approximately 500 students a week who participate in the Summer Camps.
Traditional day camps range in price from $120 to $140 a week. Prices vary for Specialty Camps. Financial aid is available based on a sliding scale of documented income. The YMCA Summer Camp program will give out a quarter of a million dollars in financial assistance this summer to support single moms and dads. According to Mr. Staley, “Half of the children the YMCA will serve this summer will receive some level of financial aid.”
If we were to sum up the YMCA in a tagline, it would be: “Something for everyone!” The Summer Camp program runs from May 30 through August 9, 2017. For more information, please go to the St. Pete YMCA Summer Camp Program website at www.stpeteymca.org/childcare/summer-camp. Early registration is encouraged because spots fill quickly.