PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

June 19, 2014

Cowabunga! YMCA summer camp

The fun runs through Aug. 22

Chelsea Henderson
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — By Chelsea Henderson

The News staff writer

The YMCA of Port Arthur is in its second week of the annual Summer Day Camp for children ages 5-12. Parents can still pay late registration fees for the remaining nine weeks of the program.

Summer Day Camp is an 11-week program that aims to develop character, values and responsibility. Activities include morning circle during which the children sing and dance, snack time, games, arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor activities, and weekly field trips.

“Each day, we have a 30-minute rotation schedule between indoor and outdoor activities,” Leah Sam, YMCA childcare director, said. “We figure 30 minutes in each area is pretty good, and they don’t get bored so easily.

“We started our field trips this week with Chuck E. Cheese. The field trips are planned around the weekly themes — this week’s was Artful Antics. Next week’s is the Great Outdoors, so we’re taking them to Gator Country. We also have Fun Fridays where we highlight our theme of the week.”

The children go to field trips on different days, according to their age group, and are accompanied by the YMCA’s volunteer Counselors in Training, ages 13-15. Sam said the YMCA has 10 CITs this summer helping with Summer Day Camp.

Sam said the children can also participate in the camp’s “Pay it Forward” week in which the staff instructors, or Team Leads, take the campers out to the community for service projects.

“We may clean up the beach or visit a nursing home,” she said. “We want to teach the kids that they should always give back to the community they come from.”

In the middle of the second week, Sam said Summer Day Camp is going “absolutely amazing” so far.

“What excites me is at the end of the day, I ask the kids, ‘Did you have fun?’ ‘Yes, Ms. Leah, yes!’” she said. “When the kids don’t want to go home at the end of the day, or when they start telling their parents how much fun they had as soon as their parents come to pick them up, or when they see me and yell, ‘Ms. Leah, we did this or this in arts and crafts today!’ — those are the moments I love and that get me excited about what we do.”

Sam said there are 37 spots in the remaining camp weeks open for registration. She said that parents may register their kids for as few or as many weeks as they wish — whatever works best for the parents.

“We love kids,” she said. “We love having them here at the YMCA. That’s what the Y stands for — a safe place to bring your kids and know that they’re secure and having fun.”

Registration forms can be found online at www.portarthurymca.org.

For more information, visit the website or call Sam at 962-6644 ext. 210.

Email: chenderson@panews.com

Twitter: @crhenderson90