YMCA of Eastern Ontario

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The halcyon days of summer camp Help Send a Kid to Cam

For many of us happy memories of summer camp stay with us for our lifetimes. The friends we made. The games we played. The new things we learned. The camp counsellor who we tried to emulate. Those days seem to take on a golden glow.

These are the memories made at YMCA summer camps. Beyond happy remembrances, kids learn skills like teamwork and leadership, along with values integral to the Y: caring, honesty, responsibility, inclusion and respect – characteristics that prepare children and youth not just for play but for life.

Children earn value beads for their positive actions, which not only enforce great behaviours, but provide a jumping off point for conversations around the dinner table at home.

One parent told us that “The leaders were responsible, intuitive, and fun. Both of my children had a great experience. They got along well with their peers, enjoyed their day and seemed to make marked personal character growth. The [value] beads are a unique and excellent motivator.”

A 2017 study by the University of Waterloo on the importance of summer camp finds that children who experience camp, developed in five key areas.

  • “Social integration and citizenship
  • “Attitudes toward physical activity
  • “Self-confidence and personal development
  • “Environmental awareness, and
  • “Emotional intelligence

“Findings also revealed the positive development experienced at camp transferred to the campers’ home environments as parents and guardians observed changes in all five personal growth areas.”

There have also been many studies on the “summer learning slide” (a phenomenon that disproportionately affects youth living with lower income). What isn’t as well known is that the social and emotional aspects of summer learning are every bit as important as academic supports for success at school.

This summer, camps are offered for ages six to 13 with program in fitness, sport, dance, craft, cycling and outdoor-explorer camps.

“The programming was creative, different, fun and affordable,” one parent told us of 2021 camps. “There were so many leaders that bonded with my child, I felt she was always given the right kind and best attention. The camp coordinator was sincere and thoughtful, she took the time to call me when my daughter was having a difficult day. I honestly can't say enough about how much I saw my daughter enjoy her experience this summer.”

At the Y, we see so many children blossom over their time at camp. The YMCA provides a safe, welcoming, respectful environment where children make new friends, gain new skills, and learn positive behaviours from counsellors who become their role models.

During the pandemic, this social connection seems even more important. After two years of intermittent on-line learning, limited organized physical activity, too much screen time and lack of playtime with their friends, our children need the joys and carefree play offered by summer camp.

A Y camp parent said: “The camp councillors were simply amazing. They greeted my son every single day with a smile and genuine passion to see him smile back. My son really required this attentive, loving and intentional approach after being home and away from friends due to the COVID 19 global pandemic. I am grateful for the time my son was able to be a part of this year’s camp cohort.”

Time at camp is a powerful, life-enriching experience. Learning, memories and friendships are formed at camp, helping to positively shape children’s lives.

Help Send a Kid to Camp

Unfortunately, there are many children in our community who may miss out on these experiences because of economic circumstances.

You can help these children to not only have fun, but to gain the important foundations that set them up for future successes at school and at play.

Your contribution to the YMCA’s Send a Kid to Camp fundraiser will provide memories and skills that last a lifetime. To make a donation, please visit eo.ymca.ca/sendakidtocamp or contact Amy Kirkland at amy.kirkland@eo.ymca.ca.