As school starts up, camps wind down

Aug. 19, 2014 @ 09:19 PM

As children get ready to put down the beach towels and pick up the backpacks, summer programs at the Lee County YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club of Sanford and Lee County are coming to an end.

The Y served more than 150 children in kindergarten through ninth grade during the 10 weeks of summer programming it provided, according to Youth Programs Director Brandon Harcum.

“Every week is a theme-based week,” Harcum said. “Our theme this week is ‘best of.’ Last week was ‘wet and wild’ week.”

Camp Voyager served children from kindergarten to fifth grade, and sixth- through ninth-graders took part in Camp 3. Harcum said character development was one of the primary focuses for each camp.

“They learn our different character traits,” he said, “caring, responsibility, respect, faith in God, honesty, and good sportsmanship.”

The camps, held at B.T. Bullock Elementary School in Sanford, were held from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday for the past 10 weeks. Friday will be the final day.

Harcum touted the clinics the Y offered as one of his favorite aspects of the program.

“What that is,” Harcum said, “it’s skill development. Campers choose what activity they are in for the week. With that activity, they learn that skill.”

Throughout the summer, clinics have included activities from cooking and dancing to basketball and archery.

Harcum said members of Camp 3 were involved with service work throughout Sanford as well.

“They were out in the community two or three days a week doing service projects,” Harcum said. “Some of them went to The Breadbasket, some did a service project at Victoria Manor, a nursing home, and they also helped us clean up around camp.”

Harcum said it was one of the most successful summer programs he had seen at the Y, and he looks forward to the after-care program that runs during the school year, which will being Monday and run five days a week through the end of the school year.

“We’re going to have a big day of fun and games on Friday,” Harcum said. “We want to end with a boom.”

Boys and Girls Club

The Boys and Girls Club of Sanford and Lee County changed up its summer programs this year to great effect.

Executive Director Bo Hedrick said that the club’s summer offerings in past years had focused mostly on athletics, with just a touch of academics.

“This year,” Hedrick said, “it was about 50 percent academics. I feel like our children will go into the school year better prepared. We’ve had some kids advance more than a grade level in reading from where they were in the spring.”

Hedrick estimated the club had reached 200 children with academic programming over the summer, which ranged from career preparation to public speaking to money management.

To really drive home the importance of education, Teen Director William Johnson took the club’s high school students on 17 college tours to schools across the state.

“The success of [the college tour program] is that we don’t just take tours,” Johnson said. “We have kids going back to some of these schools in the fall.”

Johnson said the in-depth tours allowed students to get a feel for each university and try to determine which one would suit their needs.

“They got to sit in a classroom setting,” he said. “They can ask, ‘Is it too big?’ ‘Is it too small?’ ‘Is it a good fit for me?’ It’s important for them to get that exposure.”

With the start of the school year, the club will provide free tutoring for an hour after school Monday through Thursday. Johnson said 60 total slots were open for the teen program, and it is first come, first serve.

Hedrick encouraged anyone in the community interested in getting involved or just learning more about the club to stop by any time.

“We’ve got a fall fundraiser coming up in October at the [Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center],” Hedrick said. “We can’t sustain an organization like this without the community. It belongs to the community.”