Summer Camp Fun

By Jimean LEE

Summer day and residential camps at the YMCA of the Foothills provide campers with the opportunity to build positive relationships while having memorable experiences. The summer camps are available to children of all ages, from preschoolers to eighth graders, and allow campers to build skills and confidence and learn values. Because many of the campers have an “amazing” experience, they return to the camp as counselors after they age-out of the program.

Former camper and current counselor Nathan Nagaoka shared his affection for camp.

“Camp helped me come out of my shell and I will always be grateful for that,” Nagaoka said. “The main reason I came back as a counselor is to give back. This program has done so much for me socially, mentally and spiritually. It has given me endless role models – and smiles.”

Samantha Brown is another former camper who is now a counselor.

“[Camp] was such a positive experience,” she said. “I met some of my closest friends there even though we all went to different schools. Every summer, we’d look forward to seeing each other again.”

Because their lives were positively affected and changed because of their experiences at Y camp, both Nagaoka and Brown said that by returning as a counselor they could be part of that positive experience for other campers.

“The YMCA day camp had such a strong impact on me and I wanted to help other kids realize just how great it is too,” said Brown.

The pair said that returning as counselors has proved to be “amazing and unforgettable.”

 “My experience as a counselor has been incredibly fulfilling and an all-around blast,” said Nagaoka. “Taking care of these kids teaches you so much about patience and genuine fun. It’s an experience I wish every young adult had a chance to have.”

“I think my favorite part, by far, is watching a kid grow every week from year to year,” added Brown. “The best part is telling the parents at the end of the day the new things their kid learned or how many friends they’ve made.”

The YMCA summer camp will continue until Aug. 11. As former camper and current counselor Mara Nieyst is another former camper who returned as a counselor.

“Camp is a special place where everyone can be themselves while also growing and thriving,” said Nieyst.