When spring arrives, that means summer is soon on its way, and Summer Day Camp at the West Cook YMCA isn't far behind. This year, Camp Magellan is making a move to a nearby location with details to come and School Age Coordinator, Rebecca Boblett can't wait to hit the ground running.
The new location will have all of the advantages of a home base for all of the Y's summer camps.
"In the past, we've used nearby alternative locations for rainy days, but now, everything from drop-off to pick-up will happen at one nearby site. The biggest difference for the kids is that we won't have to share the space. The gym in the new facility will be used solely for the West Cook Y's day camp activities. The kids will be able to make the space their own. They'll be able to decorate their lockers and classrooms," Boblett said.
The camp will be divided into five groups, serving ages five through seventeen, from the First Mates group for the youngest campers all the way up to the Leaders in Training Group for the teens. The day camp will operate Monday-Friday, June 13 to August 26, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. with extended care available before and after camp.
While the new space will increase the capacity for campers, Boblett notes that the main focus of the West Cook YMCA's Day Camp will remain the same.
"We build our days around fun and activities aimed at helping campers learn and build relationships. A lot of time is spent outdoors, whether we're at a nearby Cook County forest preserve or the Fred Hampton Aquatic Center's pool in Maywood. We'll also take weekly field trips, some of which could include going to a museum, navigating a ropes course, or visiting a waterpark," Boblett said.
Throughout the day, the staff keeps in mind the importance of building and maintaining friendships. There are games and activities aimed at helping kids meet and make new friends and even get a bit out of their comfort zone to learn something new and develop their own strengths.
This summer, a new series of "Boosts" will enrich the camping experience and be an opportunity for self-growth. Boblett calls the "Boosts" a chance for kids to learn a fun skill that might impact their future.
"There will be STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities, like building a robot or making a volcano."
Elizabeth Lopez, Youth Development Director, notes: "We're thrilled that we are one of only ten Ys awarded the Thingamajig® Grant from Y-USA. The grant focuses on STEM programming and opens the doors to strategic thinking for the children who participate. Kids will have an opportunity to build inventions, do experiments, and learn about careers in the STEM field.
"We're very excited about how this will continue to enhance our Day Camp program every week. We'll also do a community event at the end of the summer to showcase the work of the Thingamajig® grant."
"With a performance stage at the new location, we'll have dance and drama in which the kids will learn about different cultures, how to design a set and put on a performance," Boblett said.
Visual arts programming will focus on fun projects like outdoor art or 3-dimensional art. A large kitchen in the new facility will be a great opportunity for Y campers to learn cooking skills.
"Through it all, we'll have our Strong4Life program which emphasizes age-appropriate healthy living and activity," Boblett says.
While a lot of planning goes into ensuring that the children receive a well-balanced day of education, outside time and activities, for the kids, the biggest focus is fun and friendship, she says.
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