The Beatrice Mary Family YMCA is helping ensure area preschool through third graders have the Best Summer Ever, with their annual 10-week summer camp program.
The activities began on June 1 with treats from the Kona Ice of Lincoln. Since then, the kids have had opportunities to visit the Sertoma Splash Pad, story time at the Beatrice Public Library, the Rolla-Rena Skate Center and Family Bowl and Social.
“A photography class and trips to Homestead National Historical Park are also planned for the summer,” Jennifer Elliott, the Y’s Program Director, said.
On Wednesday, the kids got to learn about plants with nutrition and health extension educator, Tara Dunker. They reviewed what plants need to live, including their placement, light, air, nutrients, thirst, and soil requirements. Then, they learned about the different parts of a plant and how people eat them. For example, how tomatoes are the fruit of a plant, and how in sunflowers people eat the seeds.
After drawing and reviewing the parts of the plant with a game of catch, the kids were excited to try the green beans Dunker brought, and take cucumbers home to their families.
“The Y is a place where everyone belongs and can be themselves while engaging in new experiences, building new skills, and making new friends,” The Y’s website states. “We are committed to providing youth with a safe and positive environment.”
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Elliott said a new addition this year is that camp leaders are offering kids the chance to earn camp money if they’re caught displaying the Y’s core values of honesty, respect, caring and responsibility.
“With this money, they will have the opportunity to spend it at the Snack Shack, the outdoor concession stand, on things like trinkets, frozen ice cream treats, and other special snacks we wouldn’t normally have," Elliott explained.
Overall, the camp’s childcare coordinator, Allyson Kimpson, said the intent of the camp is for the kids to make new friends, build relationships and learn to problem solve.
“Some of them have never been to a summer camp before, so just adjusting to that,” Kimpson said. “I know we’ve had some arguments between the kids, but now they’re best friends, so it’s definitely fun to see…We’re just having fun, and its fun seeing the kids have fun.”