Guy Ellis

The Grand Lake Family YMCA Day Camp is wrapping up its fourth year of operation this summer. Since the program’s inception in 2005 it has moved from strength to strength and today encompasses a wide variety of fun activities during the summer months for youths aged 5 to 12.

Kami King is the Director of the camp.

“This year we’ve had over 70 kids enrolled. Some kids come every day, and others come on different days. We see about 45-50 kids a day,” said King.

King and her staff keep the campers busy everyday with different activities.

“We go swimming at least twice a week,” said King. “And when we’re not swimming we play in the water. The kids love the water and so we play with water balloons, and squirt bottles, and the water hose. We make a water slide out of the jungle gym, too.”

When they aren’t drenched to the bone the staff and their charges enjoy taking field trips each week.

“We go on out-of-town field trips every Thursday,” said King. “We’ve gone to the Jones Center for ice skating and swimming. We’ve gone to the Safari Drive-Thru in Gentry. This week we’re going to the Will Rogers Memorial Museum. We try to come up with different places every year to go.”

Many of the activities at Day Camp involve physical activity.

“We play relay races and we go play on the football field,” said King. “We’ve done tug-of-war and we broke the rope! We set up Challenge Courses out on the playground. We like to keep the kids active and busy. We wear them out and send them home!”

The Day Camp is headquartered at the Lower Elementary Gym in Grove and the camp staff appreciates the use of that facility as well as the Lower Elementary playground.

“We’re very thankful to the Grove Public Schools for letting us to continue using the facilities here,” said King. “The kids are really good at helping us take care of the grounds and the school is wonderful for letting us use the playground and gym and classrooms.”

Each week of day camp usually has a special theme that binds together all of the activities and lessons for the time period.

“Today was Pajama Day and we are just ending Christmas in July week,” King said. “We’re going to build ginger bread houses and watch Christmas movies this afternoon. Next week is Wild, Wild West week. We’ve done a Beach week and a Pirate week. Our last week will be a Fiesta week. The kids have already made some piñata’s this year and we’ll use some of those and make new ones, too.”

All of these activities require a dedicated staff and the group at the day camp are up to the task.

“It is an excellent staff,” said King. “Most of them have been here at least two years, if not longer. They are very loyal and responsible; very mature. The kids love them and that’s what matters most.

“We have eight regular counselors,” King continued, “and then we have two substitute counselors in case someone needs a day off. We have one full-time lifeguard and several part-time lifeguards. We also have a full-time bus driver.”

King was quick to point out that the success of the camp extends beyond the capable staff.

“The parent have been wonderful in supplying donations of games, puzzles, and other kinds of crafts that we need,” said King. “Donations are always welcome and the parents have gone above and beyond in helping that way.”

As camp winds down for another summer the staff is busy readying some final end of session activities.

“On Thursday, August 7th we will be having our fourth annual Talent Show,” said King. “We’re hoping that it will take place in the Middle School auditorium but if we can’t do it there we’ll hold it at the Lower Elementary gym. It should start around 1 o’clock. The kids ask for it every year and they really love it.”

The final field trip of the year will have a special theme as well.

“Our last field trip of the year will be on Friday the 8th,” said King. “We’re going to see a play that a lot of the kids at camp are actually in. It’s being put on by the Grove Play Makers. We’ve bought the house out so it will be exclusively for the YMCA.”

With the conclusion of camp the staff will focus their attention to the YMCA After School Program.

“The After School Program will start on Monday the 18th of August,” King said. “It’s the same age group as camp. We walk the kids from their class and it’s based here on campus. We run from after school to six in the evening.

“We help the kids with homework, we do arts and crafts, and we let them run out some of that energy before they go home.”

Sign-ups for the After School program are underway now at the Grand Lake Family YMCA building behind Pizza Hut in Grove.