Donations will help send children to camp
The YMCA of Northern Colorado is stepping up in a big way to bring “pure summer joy” to the kids who need it most, said Andra Coberly Webster, executive director of communications at YMCA NOCO. She explained that this summer, with assistance from local donors and business sponsors, YMCA NOCO will not only provide financial aid to 500 campers as usual, but they also hope to offer camp scholarships to an additional 250 kids affected by the Marshall Fire. “If anyone needs a break from the stresses and strain of trauma, from COVID to the loss of a home or not being able to return home due to the fire, these kids do,” she said.
“We were a Red Cross shelter during the fire, and our Lafayette Y saw firsthand what hundreds of families and individuals were going through,” she said. “As one of the largest childcare providers in northern Colorado, we see it as our duty to support our families, and this summer we want to go above and beyond our normal ability to serve kids in need.”
Thus, YMCA NOCO has set the ambitious goal to quickly raised $800,000, the amount required to fund 250 campers and to train staff to help children process their unique emotional and social challenges. “We want kids to be kids,” Coberly Webster said. “We want them to move and run and be in the sunshine and play, to step away from what’s hard for a bit.” She added, “We will ensure that our staff has the techniques and tools to best support these kids while they’re in our care.”
The scholarship program will apply to YMCA’s day camps throughout northern Colorado, with locations in Lafayette, Loveland, Longmont, Berthoud and Johnstown. While camp program hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, childcare and staff-led activities extend from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. “It has always been our goal to meet the needs of working families. That’s why we offered emergency childcare through COVID, and that’s why we’ve continue to evolve our programs to help families,” Coberly Webster said. Children entering kindergarten through sixth grade can register for an entire summer, one week or a mix of programs and weeks. Most YMCA locations feature traditional summer camp activities, such as swimming, archery, arts and crafts, games and sports; others include specialty camps such as sports camp, Y rider cycling camp and the only exclusively half-day option, the steamrollers camp focusing on science, technology, arts and math.
Camp registration is already underway, and about 600 children are expected to attend each week across all YMCA NOCO locations. “Families are eager to get their kids involved, active and connected again, and we’re pumped to give kids a great summer,” Coberly Webster said. “We have a fun curriculum planned to make sure kids are exhausted and happy and probably dirty by the end of the day.”
Those interested in a scholarship for a child impacted by the Marshall Fire may reach out directly to Lisa.Swainey@ymcanoco.org at YMCA NOCO. “We are working with families on a case by case basis to find out what they need and how we can best help,” Coberly Webster said. “We believe in the healing power of camp and are doing whatever we can to raise funds to help as many kids as possible.”
To donate to the Marshall Fire camp scholarship fund or to learn more about how to sponsor as a business, visit champforcamp.org.
By Sarah Huber