As a parent and a teacher, I’ve seen the amazing ways children grow and learn at summer camp. I cherish the memories of the days where my own kids piled in the car after a day of camp. With faces flushed from being outside in the hot summer sun, they’d excitedly tell me about the day’s adventures before passing out in the car, a sure sign of a great day!
But that was before the pandemic. Now, child and adolescent mental and physical health issues are at an all-time high, making positive summer experiences and activities like those provided by YMCA camps more important.
4 Things Kids Can Learn from YMCA Camps
Beyond making friends and having fun, which are critical to children’s mental and physical well-being, camp also gives kids a chance to learn outside the classroom. Here are just a few of the things kids can learn from attending YMCA camps.
Explore exciting STEM careers
Most elementary aged kids get less than 15 minutes of science per day during the school year. Sadly, they get even less instruction in technology and engineering. Area YMCAs, including local ones in Silver Spring and Bethesda, offer hands on STEM camps such as Crime Scene Investigation, Goop & Magical Solutions, and Construction Destruction day camps.
These YMCA camps give parents a chance to spark a love for STEM. There’s nothing better than opportunities to get kids deeply engaged in learning while enjoying summertime fun like pool time and field games.
Improve their LEADERSHIP skills
My kids grew leaps and bounds the summers they spent working as summer camp counselors. Counselor in Training opportunities can help teens grow critical social emotional and 21st Century skills that will help them succeed in school and in any career. All counselors in YMCA camps are trained to help kids get out of their comfort zones and take turns in leadership roles.
Protect their local ENVIRONMENT
Many kids spend about 7 minutes every day in a green outdoor space, vs. 7 hours focused on a screen. If we want the next generation to care about environmental stewardship, it’s critical to give them enough time immersed in nature so they can learn to care about it.
Build life-long HEALTH habits
A study by BMC Public Health found children without access to summer camp gain more weight than those attending camp. Access to sports and aquatics camps help kids fall in love with specific activities. Beyond filling kids’ summer days with sports and games, traditional camps help build healthy habits by teaching children that being active and engaged with friends feels better than sitting on the couch and snacking.
The YMCA’s sports camps, aquatics, tennis, pickleball, and traditional camps keep kids moving and having fun all summer long.
How to Register for YMCA Camps
If you’ve heard camp registration horror stories from parents who register their kids in January and thought you missed out, you’re not too late! The YMCA 2023 Summer Camp Program Guide provides a look at YMCA Camps throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia and information on registration is here.
Here are quick links to access YMCA camp offerings in the DMV by area. All camps are open for registration and offerings vary by location:
Maryland — Day Camps
Maryland — Overnight / Residential Camp
- Arlington Tennis & Squash Center
- Arlington Woodmont Gymnastics Center
- Fairfax County Reston
- Loudoun County
Concerned About Costs of YMCA Camps?
Camp costs shouldn’t keep your child from attending! As a nonprofit charitable organization, the YMCA offers camp scholarships through their Send A Kid to Camp Campaign.
Before the pandemic, thanks to community support, the Y regularly sponsored 5,000-6,000 campers so that kids from families with low-income could have adventurous, active, and engaging experiences all summer long.
Enter to Win a YMCA Summer Family Membership Giveaway
The YMCA makes summer great for the whole family, not just your campers! The YMCA has graciously offered YMCA Summer Family Membership to a family living in DC, Maryland, or Virginia. This is a great way to try what the YMCA has to offer to encourage healthy habits this summer. Parents of younger kids will appreciate that YMCA locations offer childcare so you can work out for 30 minutes on your own while your little ones go to the Y’s Childwatch center.
To enter the giveaway to win a YMCA Summer Family Membership, take a look at the camps listed above (or through the YMCA 2023 Summer Camp Program Guide) and leave a comment sharing which one your child would be most interested in and why. Additional entries are available through the Rafflecopter form below. Please note that this giveaway is only for those that live in DC, Maryland, or Virginia since the YMCA Summer Family Membership is only good for YMCAs located in the DMV.
The YMCA provided a Family Membership for my family in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own and photos are courtesy of YMCA DC.