Is there a time of year that kids look forward to more than summertime? Sure, Christmas or Halloween, or maybe even that first snow of the season come close, but summer is in a league of its own.
Summer is full of long days outside in the sun, taking trips to places new and familiar, spending time with old friends, making new friendships, and plenty more. There’s so much to pack into just one season that it’s no surprise that our fondest memories tend to take us back to the summer months of our childhood.
For decades, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina has been the destination for those memories, for creating experiences with the great outdoors, and for being the place where youth from all backgrounds can come together and share these moments in safe, nurturing spaces.
As we approach another summer season, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina’s Summer Exploration Academies are gearing up to welcome campers into our Ys. And, staff at YMCA Camp Hanes in Stokes County are getting the 400-acre memory-maker ready for another season of overnight and day campers.
If you’re looking for your camper to have an incredible summer experience close to home, then look no further than Summer Exploration Academy, or SEA. In this program, campers will spend the day at the Y, where they will experience the outdoors, swimming, and playtime, but will also have exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities, arts and crafts, reading time, and more. Every week at SEA is a new experience! The Y has weekly themes that will direct a lot of the activities campers participate in daily, giving them the chance to learn about new ideas and applying them to their camp experience. SEA is open to campers ages 3 years-old up to rising 9th graders.
“Summer Exploration Academy is a great program for our youth because it gives them a chance to get outside and stay active, as well as focus on their mental, emotional, and social wellbeing,” said Chris Chunn, Executive Director of Education and Swim at the YMCA of NWNC. “Our counselors consistently do great work every week of the summer to make sure these kids have an incredible time.”
If you’re interested in the more “traditional” summer camp experience, then YMCA Camp Hanes is the place for you. For nearly a century, YMCA Camp Hanes—located in King at the base of Sauratown Mountain—has given campers a remarkable setting to grow closer to nature and discover talents and interests they never knew they had. Whether campers spend their week at YMCA Camp Hanes overnight in cabins, or just during the day, they get the full camp experience. Campers have a chance to try out archery, climbing, water ziplines, lake slides, canoeing, and more. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities for swimming, sports, arts and crafts, and other activities.
“Summer camp programs are more important than ever before,” said Jen de Ridder, Executive Director at YMCA Camp Hanes. “Camps can provide a safe, positive place to build relationships, achievement, and a sense of belonging. In this challenging time, supporting campers emotionally, physically, mentally, and socially is invaluable to their growth and development.”
At the Y, we are strong believers in bringing people into our branches and into our programs, regardless of their financial situation. Thanks to incredibly generous donors and community partners, we offer financial scholarships to those who may not be able to afford sending their children to any kind of summer camp setting. The benefits of summer camp to a child are too important, and we are blessed to be able to open our doors to as many children as we can.
If you are interested in the Summer Exploration Academy at the Y or YMCA Camp Hanes, please visit our website at ykidscamp.org.
If you are interested in donating to our Annual Impact Fund, so that more children can experience summer programs through the Y, please visit ymcanwnc.org/give.