YMCA uses summer camp as teaching opportunity


By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

School is out, and that means that parents are trying to find reliable child care. The YMCA of Coosa Valley, located at offers Summer Day Camp.

YMCA Director Leroy Falcon said that the average cost of a week of child care in Alabama is $112, but the YMCA’s cost for a week of childcare is only $80. That cost can be reduced even further with need-based scholarships that the YMCA offers. About 40 percent of the children in the summer camp program receive a scholarship.

The summer camp staff is all over 18 years old and are attending school for early childhood development with the goal of becoming teachers. Falcon said that several local principals once worked at the YMCA camp.

The YMCA recently partnered with the Alabama Cares Network to help provide financial assistance for grandparents aged 55 or older who have legal guardianship of grandchildren. The program is currently full.

The YMCA camp provides breakfast, after which the children spend time participating in a camp devotional. Afterwards, the children break up into groups for arts and crafts, swimming lessons or other activities. Lunch is also provided.

The camp has a theme every week. For the first week, the theme is friendship, and children learn about how to make and treat friends. The theme for the week of June 5-8 was Health and Safety. The local fire department spoke about fire safety. Upcoming week themes include celebrities, where someone who has been sucessful in the entertainment industry comes to speak, and ooey gooey week, where the children participate in games and activities that get them messy.

Falcon said that ooey gooey week is a favorite for the kids. Activities include the human burrito, where the children are folded into a tarp with refried beans and other burrito fixings, and pudding or jello wrestling.

Swimming lessons play an important part of the YMCA summer programs. Children in the summer camp swim daily, and the YMCA also offers swimming classes at the 6th Street Pool. The Sixth Street Pool is currently undergoing a much-needed renovation but is scheduled to reopen the first week in July. Swimming lessons will resume at that time.

“We’re excited about renovations at the 6th Street Pool,” said Falcon. “It needed an upgrade.”

Falcon went on to offer water safety tips for summer activities.

The YMCA considers swimming a “critical life skill for every child and teen.” With the affordability and accessibility of backyard pools, Falcon first recommended that pool owners make sure children cannot access the pool without the owner’s knowledge. To do this, a fenced  or gated backyard is important to consider. Falcon also recommended removing the pool ladder when not in use, so toddlers cannot climb in. Child locks and pool alarms are available to help monitor access.

When children are using the pool, encourage them to use the buddy system. Falcon also said performing swim tests on visiting children is an easy way to make sure everyone who needs a flotation device is using one. The YMCA uses swim tests during birthday parties to make sure all the guests stay safe.

In lakes, rivers or streams where the bottom of the water is not visible, Falcon says life jackets are always recommended. Life jackets should also be used for children and adults on boats.

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