Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Why summer camps are more than just summer fun

Summer camp is all about discovery—the discovery of new interests, talents, skills and friends

Parents look to summer camps to fill their children’s days between family vacations and the start of the next school year. Kids see them as a place where they get to swim every day and play with their friends. But in reality, summer camps are so much more than childcare and play places. They’re instrumental in helping kids expand their horizons, foster relationships and keep the learning going between June and August. YMCA understands how camps are a crucial experience in cultivating the values, skills and relationships that lead to positive long-term behaviors, better health and leadership skills.

Expanding horizons

Summer camp is all about discovery—the discovery of new interests, new talents, new skills—without having to sign your child up for tons of different recreation sports and classes. At camp, kids get to test a host of activities in one program.

“Day camps give children a safe place to be while connecting with their peers and trying new things,” says Corey Maarschalk, Youth Director, YMCA of Southeastern NC. “It might be as simple as going across a balance beam for the first time. For some kids, just stepping onto a balance beam with help is a big deal.”

But Y’s summer camps offer much more than that.

“Our programs are often the first place kids have an opportunity to do things like canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding and exploring nature,” Maarschalk says. “We give kids the opportunity and a welcome environment to stretch past their comfort zones.”

Maarschalk suggests enrolling your child in summer camp even if they already think they know what they like.

“Even if a child loves soccer and that’s what they’re passionate about, putting them in some other type of structured environment may spark new interests,” he says. “And it will still aid in their soccer abilities, even if it’s not specific to soccer. They may learn some new hand-eye coordination or foot-eye coordination skills through other activities.”

 

Meaningful relationships

There’s a reason kids sing “Make New Friends (But Keep the Old)” at summer camp. It’s a great environment for getting to know their peers on a deeper level than just passing each other in the halls at school.

“We focus on some different aspects of relationship-building and character development,” Maarschalk says. “We want kids to develop some skills, attitudes and behaviors that are going to allow them to operate successfully in life and in work down the road. We do that through relationship-building activities and emotion-management debriefs where we talk about what kids saw and how they felt at the start of an activity versus the end.”

Explore your options now

This year, the Y is offering even more camps to its summer lineup, with camp sites in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties. Learn more about this year’s camp sites and open houses here:

Nir Family YMCA
2710 Market St., Wilmington, NC

Lifepoint Church Leland 
1725 Reed Rd., Leland, NC

Midtown YMCA
709 George Anderson Dr., Wilmington, NC

YMCA Camp Kirkwood
2015 Camp Kirkwood Rd., Watha, N

Wilmington Basketball Center
7207 Ogden Business Ln., Wilmington, NC

Camps are geared toward children and teens ages 3 to 15. Just a few of the camps the Y is offering this year:

  • Youth Day Camp
  • Leaders in Training Day Camp
  • Preschool Day Camp
  • Babysitter’s Boot Camp
  • Water Adventures Camp
  • Camp GOTR (Girls on the Run)
  • Outdoor Wonders Camp
  • Water Adventures Camp
  • Fitness Athletic & Training Camp
  • Top Chef Cooking Camp

Learn more about YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina summer camps or register.

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