By YVETTE C. HAMMETT
It’s the time of year when the gears are grinding at full speed for the YMCA as it prepares to host thousands of youngsters for both summer camp and swim lessons.
Those attending summer camp will have days filled with themed fun, exercise, singing, crafting and more.
Others will know how to swim by summer’s end and can continue to learn and get more comfortable with the water throughout the year.
“All of our locations will be having themed days each week of camp,” said Candace Culver, vice president of Youth Development. “Some examples include: Tie Dye Tuesday, Cowboys vs. Aliens and Safari, Superheroes, Pirates, Amazing Race and Party in the USA. The themes will vary depending on the location.”
To find out where the YMCA camps are located and the cost, visit www.tampaymca.org/letscamp-locations/.
“The cost will vary based on member versus nonmember and the type of camp,” Culver said. It will range from $155 to $229 per week. Availability also varies based on camp location and program.
The First Tee Golf Camp is offered at Rogers Park Golf Course, Heritage Isles Golf Club, Rocky Point Golf Course and Summerfield Golf Course.
The Y team is excited to offer a whole new camp experience this year called Activity Central, where campers who opt for the summer camp experience will explore a variety of activities as they rotate through different stations. Campers will participate in one subject for about 45 minutes and will experience up to five different activities each day.
For example, they can swim, participate in STEM, arts and crafts, outdoor education, games, team building and more. Activities are led by experts and seasoned team members who love working with children.
There are also add-on experiences, like swim lessons, sports mix, ropes course, horseback riding and more. Prices for the add-ons vary. During registration, the add-on options available for the chosen location will appear. The Y also offers before care, 7 to 9 a.m., and after care, 4 to 6 p.m., included in the cost of summer camp. For more information, contact the Welcome Center at the location your child will attend for camp.
There are also specialty camps in gymnastics, sports, swimming, visual arts, performing arts, discover science and more.
Camp Cristina is the Y’s premier summer camp in Hillsborough County, located right in Riverview. It is an outdoor adventure camp that allows campers to build independence, self-esteem and form relationships.
There is swimming, sports, archery and riflery, horseback riding, canoeing and more.
“Summer activities are critical for youth, not only to continue learning and growing, but to make sure they do not experience the summer slide and actually lose some of the skills they gained during the academic year. Tampa Y summer camps are full of disguised learning, so kids are able to participate in great activities, or “camptivities” and not even realize that they are learning new things and maintaining their academics’ skills,” Culver said.
Each year, the Tampa YMCA will typically provide around 8,500 group swim lessons, said Aquatics Director Amanda Walker. “We also provide roughly 4,000 lessons through our drowning prevention programs, which are offered free of charge to participants.”
The Y’s Safety Around Water program is available to both YMCA members and nonmembers. Any participant within the community between the ages of 3 and 12 can register for the program, which will be offered March 18 through 21, May 28 through 31 and again Aug. 5 through 8.
“We encourage all children within this age range to take advantage of our free Safety Around Water program,” Walker said.
“We highly recommend that parents keep their children enrolled in swim lessons year-round,” she said. “This ensures that children not only learn the valuable skills needed, but that they continue to build their endurance in the water helping them to become safer swimmers.”
During lessons, Y instructors will focus on a sequenced set of skills over multiple classes, with each skill building on the next. “We help children adjust to being in and around the water, focusing on safe entry, exit and water safety guidelines. We will also focus on ‘Jump, Push, Turn, Grab and Swim, Float, Swim,’ two skill sets children can use if they unexpectedly find themselves in the water,” Walker said. “Lastly our program uses fun activities to reinforce and practice all skills taught throughout our swim lesson program.”
This year the Florida Blue Foundation is sponsoring the Safety Around Water program.