Through thick and thin, YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit Summer Camps are a bright spot for metro Detroit families. “Our YMCA Summer Camp came at a great time in 2020, when a lot of camps weren’t in operation,” says Cheryl Donohoe, mom to 11-year-old Keira Mueller and 9-year-old Isaac Mueller. “We both work full time and were looking for a child care option that placed health and safety first, but was able to offer great experiences, too.”
Specialty sports camps provided just what Donohoe’s family needed. “My kids would come home dirty and tired. I love how they focused on being outdoors and physically active,” she says. “This allowed us to work from home without having to provide physical and mental stimulation for our kids at the same time.”
YMCA Summer Camps are great for introducing kids to new experiences. Donohoe says both of her kids really enjoyed week-long baseball specialty camp — but the experience opened new doors for Keira. “My son plays baseball, but my daughter never had an interest. After camp, she was interested in pursuing softball so we signed her up for a league in 2021,” Donohoe says. “It was a positive experience and furthered a new interest for her that has now become a good recreational opportunity.”
Engaging summer learning
Recognizing the disruption that COVID had on classrooms, in 2021 local YMCA Summer Camps incorporated academics to combat the “summer slide.” Of course, all the learning is wrapped up in summer camp-worthy activities and fits seamlessly with weekly themes.
“The Y approached this in a really fun way,” says Jenny Paffi. Her two daughters, 8-year-old Leelin and 5-year-old Edie “love day camp,” and Leelin, in particular, has thrived during the four summers she has participated. The initial pandemic shutdown disrupted her kindergarten year and made first grade almost entirely virtual.
“Campers might read a book about a famous athlete as part of Olympics Week, and then do some crafts around that,” she explains. “It doesn’t necessarily feel like academics but drives home key concepts that kids do need to work on. When teachers say students should read a minimum of 20 minutes a day, it’s great if that is incorporated into summer camp read-alouds or self-guided reading. That keeps it fun.”
STEM activities are easy to blend into summer camp staple activities like making slime, Paffi says. “The curriculum is designed in a way that feels good for everyone. Leelin didn’t realize it was a continuation of learning, but it was definitely fun to hear about those experiences and know that the Y was focusing on these elements.”
Safe, quality programming
Of course Y Summer Camps are fun for kids, but they are also reassuringly safe for parents. “As a mom, I feel good having my child at the Y,” says Paffi, who served as YMCA Program Director for years prior to her current position as Associate Executive Director at Boll Family YMCA. Extensive safety checks and hours of training for camp counselors, plus state licensing and high safety standards make Y Summer Camps safe and secure for everyone.
“Counselors are also continuously trained, which is important for a program that runs the duration of the summer,” Paffi says. “Some campers are there all summer and there’s a lot that goes into keeping it fresh and exciting.”
Thanks to the pandemic, uncertainty continues. But YMCA Summer Camps remain a constant for our kids. “I’m very excited about this summer because even during the pandemic, Y Summer Camps offer some hope,” Paffi says. “Being outside in the summer, it just makes our kids feel freer.”
Register for summer camp through April 30th, 2022 and save $10 weekly. Prices go up May 1st, 2022.
Learn more about YMCA Summer Camps at ymcadetroit.org.