LINVILLE — In a continued effort to provide quality enrichment activities, learning opportunities, with a healthy share of fun thrown in, Williams YMCA of Avery County is offering students from rising kindergarten through fifth grade a pair of summer program opportunities.

“Summer of Fun 2021” is a nine-week, full-day summer camp from June 7 through Aug. 6 that is being provided by Y staff at no cost to students thanks to grant funding. The only grant-funded camp of its kind in the area, the camp will take place weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Registration for this camp is available on a week-by-week basis to provide flexibility to families who wish to take part in camp that may also be enrolled in summer school.

During the camp’s morning session, students will focus on academic enrichment projects in math and reading which are designed in alignment with Avery County Schools standards and guidelines.

“It won’t be the summer camp in the traditional sense, where it’s going to be recreation only all the time. We’ll spend the mornings working on activities based on where kids are academically, trying to help them to get caught up, as COVID had such an impact on their learning gains,” Katie Croland, Youth Development Director with Williams YMCA who also organizes snow camp, after school programming and all things children for the organization, explained. “We’re working with the school system and Ellis Ayers (Executive Director of Academic Services with Avery County Schools) to ensure that everything we’re working on with the kids is standards-based and will benefit them in whatever grade they’re going into.”

During the afternoon sessions, students will enjoy the traditional camp motif, where activities will include hiking sessions, swimming, and camp games that will provide countless hours of entertainment and fun.

The Y is also planning to provide a second separate program that will serve as a summer after school program for those students enrolled in summer school. With plans to coordinate with Avery County Schools to transport students from schools to The Y complex, the program, also designed for the same rising kindergarten through fifth grade age group, will be made available in two summer sessions: Session One will take place from June 7 to June 24, and Session Two session will be made available from July 12 to July 29.

Croland explained that the summer after school program will take place from 2:45 to 5:30 p.m. weekdays with traditional camp options for those in summer school.

“For the kids enrolled in summer school, because it ends at 2:45 p.m., it isn’t doable for a lot of parents to be able to leave their job, so we’re working with Avery County Schools to transport the kids from the schools to the Y, and we’ll have a special place for them where they’ll be doing traditional activities that we’ll be doing in camp,” Croland said. “Part of our focus is to provide options for parents and those kids who are in summer school who can’t just be picked up at 2:30 p.m.”

This original program will conduct benchmarks assessments of students at the beginning and conclusion of each of the two after school camp session, and those assessments will be shared with the teachers who will be welcoming the student to their classroom for the fall.

The Y is eager to have volunteers to assist with the programs who possess a specific skill set that would benefit students attending the camp.

“We’re looking for volunteers that specifically have some sort of skill. For instance, we have one volunteer who is a skilled baker, so she is going to come and do a baking club at the camp,” Croland added. “We can’t specifically put a volunteer with a group, but we can have them come in and do enriching activities, whether its education based, like science or even just reading to the kids. Those incoming kindergartners will be four years old, and they’d love nothing more than to have someone reading a book to them. Volunteers can help in that way, or through something enriching that they are skilled at which students can benefit from learning or doing. During academic times we’d definitely welcome volunteers who would want to help out as a tutor. We’re working with different community groups to try to find individuals willing to come and donate their time and fill some of that time during the camp day.”

Croland added that The Y camps strictly adhere to COVID-19 policy guidelines, including wearing face coverings at all times other than outside and separated by six feet of distance. Surfaces are regularly sanitized, and daily temperature checks are taken, with students limited to small groups of approximately 10 students each, grouped by grade.

Registration for Summer of Fun 2021 Day Camp at The Y is currently open. To register for the free camp (online registration only), click to https://www.ymcaavery.com/programs/youth-programs/. The Y intends to open registration for the after school camp once the regular school year is completed.

A student or family does not have to be a member of Williams YMCA to enroll in either the Summer of Fun 2021 Day Camp or for After School Camp sessions, and registration will be capped at a maximum of 100 students.

For more information or volunteer opportunities with the programs, click to www.ymcaavery.com, or email Croland at katiec@ymcaavery.org.

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