Local YMCA prepares for a busy summer camp season

Organizers suggest early registration to avoid disappointment

The Sarnia-Lambton YMCA is gearing up for another busy summer camp season and if last year’s numbers are any indication of what’s to come, several hundred kids are likely to sign up for this year’s summer fun.

“At our main branch we have about 250 campers a day and last year we saw over 1,700 unique registrations,” said Helena Vandevenne, preschool and youth supervisor at the YMCA Jerry McCaw Family Centre in Sarnia.

This year, several camps are being offered in addition to the traditional camp. New this year is a leadership camp, speciality camp, and a new five-day trip to Camp Henry at Point Peele National Park.

Traditional day camp will have weekly themes such as “Disney Days” which celebrates all things related to the popular entertainment brand, and “Survivor,” inspired by the popular television series. Campers will be entertained with arts and crafts, games, swimming, and field trips.

The speciality camps include themes such as “Junior Engineers” and “Mini Chefs.”

“These are more skill specific,” said Vandevenne. “The whole week is centred around learning. But they still do games and go swimming like the traditional camp.”

Leadership camp is focused on developing leadership skills. Campers will participate in a variety of outdoor team building activities and leadership challenges such as rock climbing, high-ropes, and sports.

Autism Camp, a seven-week camp designed specifically for children who have a diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder is also being offered in Sarnia.

New this year is a five-day adventure to Camp Henry. Campers will take a bus from Sarnia to enjoy canoeing, swimming, archery, and campfires along the shores of Lake Erie.

Summer camp can have many benefits, according to Vandevenne. “Kids gain confidence because it’s not a classroom. They get to make new friends, they get to be independent, and because of the wide variety of programs we offer, they get to find what they’re interested in and what they’re good at.  It keeps kids busy and not in front of screens all summer.”

Registration is now open but organizers say the spots are likely to fill up fast.

“Last summer we would fill up really quick,” said Vandevenne. “We’ve actually had to turn families away.”

Vandevenne said people are being encouraged to register early for the most obvious of reasons.

“The more notice that we have, the more kids we’re able to take,” she said.

Registration can be done online or at the YMCA Branch at 1015 Finch Drive in Sarnia.

The camps run during the week in July and August from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and extended care hours are offered starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m.

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