Wheeling YMCA Summer Camp Offers Activity, Educational Experiences

By SCOTT McCLOSKEY

Staff Writer

WHEELING — After humble beginnings nearly 25 years ago, almost 150 children are running, jumping and swimming their way to summer fun this year at the J.B. Chambers YMCA’s annual day camp.

Only about a dozen youth took part in the “Fun in the Sun” summer camp in its first year, but the event has flourished into a much larger venture that provides area children with more educational opportunities, according to Brian Blazier, senior director of programming for the local YMCA.

With almost 150 students between the ages of 5-12 signed up this summer, the camp offers plenty of fun and educational opportunities.

“It started out when there was only about 12 kids … and year after year it has grown,” said Blazier, who began working at the camp in its second year.

“I started as a counselor and have watched it grow.

Blazier said during the early years of the camp it was more like a small gym class. While kickball, dodgeball, swimming and tag are just a few of the many activities offered to area youth at the facility, campers also have the opportunity to participate in a number of educational activities or field trips.

The camp also provides children with the opportunity to interact with other children while experiencing a summer filled with fun.

The athletic field located next to the Lounez Avenue facility is utilized for most of the outdoor events. In the event of inclement weather, activities are moved indoors to an air-conditioned facility. In addition, campers have the opportunity to use the facility’s indoor swimming pool on a daily basis.

Blazier said the YMCA has worked over the past few years to include more educational activities and field trips, including a field trip to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.

According to assistant camp director Amanda Shinsky, the YMCA has designed the camp to have weekly themes, such as Science Week, Olympic Week and Holiday Week. In addition, they have scheduled several guest speakers to talk with the children about a variety of educational topics.

Shinsky said the camp already has the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department and the Oglebay Park Good Zoo scheduled for educational presentations. She said an area teacher also offered to present a science program to the children.

Blazier said it is extremely rewarding to see parents who were enrolled at the camp when they were youngsters bring their children to the camp today.

The camp is held Monday through Friday and parents can drop their children off as early as 7:15 a.m. and pick them up as late as 5:30 p.m. The camp also offers Ohio County Schools’ free summer meal program to all campers.

For more information about the camp, call 304-242-8086.

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