Y Summer Programs Help Youth Get Outdoors and Learn New Skills

Campers visit with alpacas during a YMCA field trip. Courtesy/YMCA

iCare about Gardening campers tend their plants. Courtesy/YMCA

YMCA News:

The Family YMCA is encouraging parents to help keep their kids physically active and mentally engaged by signing them up for any of the Y’s summer youth development programs.

Registration opens for summer programs March 1, and the registration fee is waived for parents who sign up from March 1 through April 30. The Y offers financial assistance so that no one is turned away for inability to pay.

Registration is also open for next year’s after-school enrichment programs.

“Summer is a critical out-of-school time when children and teens can benefit from enriched learning, new experiences and making new friends,” said Diana Martinez, senior program director. “The Y’s summer opportunities offer this and more.”

“For elementary school-age kids we have Y Camp where kids stay with their age group and engage in several specialty play curriculums, and we also offer a separate, outdoor-based experiential learning program called Adventures on the Pajarito Plateau,” said Martinez.

“New this year, for the two days prior to school we have an iCARE About Gardening hands-on camp,” she said.

Martinez said all programs are staffed with experienced, well-trained adults and seasoned teenagers. She said staff have taken First Aid and CPR, Child Protection Protocols training, and have undergone criminal record background checks.

 “We hire teachers and young adults and place them in areas where they can use their field of study, and all our staff members are caring and fun.”

 “For teens, we have a Counselor-In-Training job-training program, the Y Earth Service Corps, and a new Garden Leadership program, any of which will help teenagers make new friends, build confidence, and increase their skills. We encourage participants to lists these service-learning positions on college and job applications,” Martinez said.

More information is available at www.laymca.org. A summary of summer options follows:

  • Y Camp, for youth entering grades K-6th, based at Mountain Elementary School. Mythical Journey weekly themed summer includes group games, drama, sports, art, science, build-it, book-worm stations.
  • iCARE Adventures, ages 5 to 11, outdoor, play-based weekly summer camp studies ecological systems and sustainable practices and is led by environmental educators.
  • iCARE Camp, ages 5 to 11, August 5 to 9, base camp at the Y, daily field trips, youth explore  each person’s impact on the environment, includes creative projects, environmentally themed games and field trips.
  • iCARE About Gardening, ages 5-12, August 12 and 13. Youth explore ecology through garden-themed games and projects, creating garden art, planting seeds, playing and experimenting with soil, tending garden space, and field trips to local gardens, greenhouses and nearby farms.
  • Counselor-In-Training, application required for summer long program youth in grade 8-9th. CITs gain job skills helping at camp while supervised by adult staff. Applications are available April 15.
  • Y Earth Service Corps, ages 11-17, from 8 am-12 Monday-Thursday, features summer service-learning projects, First Aid, CPR training, field trips, teambuilding activities, backpacking/camping trips, rock climbing, and job skills training. Space is limited.
  • Garden Leadership Program, ages 11-17, meets from 12:30-4:30 pm Wednesdays only throughout the summer, and helps develop leadership skills while gardening. Youth will work on greenhouses, develop water catchment systems, tend partner gardens, participate in workshops and take field trips to nearby gardens and farms.



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