Committed To Kids - YMCA Invest in Youth Campaign - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Committed To Kids - YMCA Invest in Youth Campaign

By Jeannie Prescott

WAUSAU (WAOW)--For more than 100 years the YMCA has been putting on summer camps for kids to take a break from home, learn a little about the outdoors and about themselves.

A big part of the YMCA's mission, "We build strong kids, strong families, strong communities," can be seen in action on a daily basis, when you head over to the Y and take a stroll through their camp "sites."

We pulled 13-year-old camper, Alex Volz from a group of kids learning how to high rope.

They were strategically building a tower of crates, one on top of another, slowly rising the (securely strapped in) kid high into the tree tops.

A scary feat for even adults, but all the kids were focused and working together to get the young boy as high as he could go.

Just being there you could see how the YMCA's camps integrate fun experiences with teamwork and confidence building activities.

 "I've learned that I'm not really afraid of doing, trying new things and figuring out how to do things," said Volz.

Camp Sturtevant is where a lot of the camp activities are held. It's nestled along the Eau Claire River and naturally equipped with hiking trails, woods, open play fields and a lot of wildlife.

One way to look at camp is a place to be far from the hustle and bustle of typical daily routines.

Camp Director Pat Murphy agrees, "Technology is becoming a bigger and bigger influence in kids lives and families are becoming busier and busier and so this allows them the chance to kind of get back to the basic tenants of being outside and being a kid... making friends, not over a computer or via text message."

Everything from high roping to horseback riding to sports, there are camps set up for all interests. But, it's not just the wide range of camps the Y provides, it's their mission to make sure every kid, has the chance to go to camp and be a part of the YMCA.

It's called the Woodson YMCA Invest in Youth Campaign.

Christy Parks, director of membership services for the Woodson YMCA's Aspirus Branch says, "The Invest in Youth Scholarship Program is our campaign to raise money to send children from lower income families to all of our programming including camp."

"Ware able to provide experiences for kids and families that wouldn't  be able to come to camp...regardless of the program, day camp resident camp....the look on their faces the appreciation that the parents share with us for the week or two weeks that their with us...makes it all worthwhile," says Murphy.

Last year alone the Woodson YMCA provided more than 1,600 area kids with scholarships to use for memberships and program participation at the YMCA Wausau Branch, Aspirus Branch in Weston, Camp Sturtevant and their Mosinee site.

Because the YMCA's program and membership fees do not cover all the costs of supporting programs for low-income residents, contributions make up the majority of the funding. The YMCA Invest in Youth Campaign, in partnership with the United Way is the Y's primary means of reaching out for community support.

Most children are referred for scholarships by teachers, clergy, and human service agencies. Parents can fill out an application for their child as well.

One of the great things about the Invest in Youth Campaign is you can see how much the program enriches the lives of all kids.

"They leave clean in the morning and they come home dirty, smelling like mosquito repellent and with a big smile on their face because it's been such a good day," says Parks.

Woodson YMCA leaders have set a goal to help 1,670 kids for their 2009 Campaign.

If you're interested in joining the YMCA, signing up for camp or donating towards programs like Invest in Youth, contact the Woodson YMCA.

Wausau Branch

707 3rd Street

Wausau, WI 54403

(715) 845-2177

Aspirus Branch

3402 Howland Avenue

Weston, WI 54476

(715) 841-1850

YMCA Camp Sturtevant

2701 Northwestern Ave

Wausau, WI 54403

(715) 849-2267

Online Reporter: Jeannie Prescott

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