School is back in session for the kids of Marion County and some of our local teens have started the school year with a broader perspective than they had before their summer began.
The Marion Family YMCA holds a summer camp each year, but this year, for their teen population, they decided to do something a little different – something that creates leaders in our community.
Nicole Brown, summer camp coordinator, had the vision to create a fun, learning experience for the teens that participated this year. The teen summer experience was called, “Leaders in Training.”
Brown said that this was the first year for the YMCA’s Leaders in Training program as part of the summer day camp. The first year was a success with 13 registered campers ages 12 to 15 participating in the ten-week program.
“The goal was to make their summer fun but also provide them with opportunities that they may not have otherwise had. This year, Leaders in Training volunteered at the Human Society, visited Marion Technical College, helped the younger summer campers during field trips, and conducted a book club with Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities,” Brown said.
Additional places and experiences for the teens in the program included weekly visits to the Lincoln Park Aquatic Center, the Marion Public Library came to the YMCA to do crafts once a month, field trips including visits to Seneca Caverns, Wright Patterson Air Force Museum, Tall Grass Trail, Zoomers roller skating rink, Magic Mountain, and the Ohio Historical Museum.
All summer campers also got to experience COSI on Wheels, and The Ohio State University at Marion who gave gardening advice and education on nutrition in June. The Marion police department visited with Safety Pup in July. In August, the campers worked out with the YMCA’s fitness instructor, Mrs. Vicki. The Humane Society visited once a month to give informational presentations on safety with strange dogs, caring for our pet dogs, and the services they offer through their organization.
Brown feels that the initial launch of the Leaders in Training program was successful and she is already thinking about ideas for next year. Some of her Leaders agreed.
One of the campers was paired to read with Travis Emmons who attends Book Club through the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Travis said the two are “buddies” and they both like the pets that they were reading about.
“I had never been around anyone with a developmental disability,” the camper said. “I’ve learned that they are just like us. They want to be respected and have fun.”
Nicole Brown said that she is very proud of this first team of teams that have completed the Leaders in Training program. “This was a great first group of students. They were helpful, respectful, and just great leaders all summer long.”
The Leaders in Training program is open to children aged 12 to 15 years old. The weekly fee for YMCA members is $100 and $145 for non-members. The YMCA also offers scholarship discounts to families based on their level of need and income.
It’s true, the kids just went back to school, but we will be returning to summer in the blink of the eye. When that time comes, remember the great summer camp opportunities through the Marion Family Y. Summer Camp registration will start in the spring. To learn more about the YMCA’s summer camp, the Leaders in Training program and all things YMCA, visit www.marionymca.org and follow them on Facebook.