Noted as the biggest child care provider in the county, the YMCA of San Benito County will once again open its doors this summer from June 11 to August 10 for their annual summer camp. Last year, 215 children participated in the program.
“Our summer camp provides a safe place for kids to go during the summer,” said Crystal Canchola, senior program director for the YMCA of San Benito County. “Kids go on different adventures that they possibly wouldn't have without this program. It’s new experiences, a safe environment, and a place to build relationships and make friends.”
Max Fontanez, who will attend the camp for the third time this summer, said his favorite part of camp was going on field trips to the aquarium, hiking, and going to a water park.
“The hiking. I loved it. We hiked a lot,” Fontanez said.
Fontanez’s mother, Veronica Sanchez, explained that as a single mother it was reassuring to know her children were spending time in an environment where the kids were not just being taken care of when she was working, but also a place where the kids could be kids.
“You know that they are active," Sanchez said. "You know they are feeding their body and minds. They do a lot of arts and crafts. They do a lot of outdoor play and adventures. Every week there is a different adventure and every week there is a different theme. I want to go!”
According to Canchola, part of the success of the YMCA summer program is due to the relationships formed at camp.
“The staff are great," Canchola said, further explaining that participants often develop "summer camp best friends."
"They are friendly and care about the kids," she said. "They have great relationships with the parents and kids."
In addition to action-packed days (there are new activities set up every 45 minutes), the YMCA of San Benito County offers early drop-off and late pick-up at no additional charge for families. This service is provided to help parents who work to insure their child is taken care of.
“We want the kids to be active in a safe environment,” Canchola said.
Part of creating this environment includes providing financial assistance to those families who may be in need, Canchola continued.
“If a family comes in and cannot afford the fee they can apply for financial assistance,” she said. “Families can be subsidized up to 50 percent.”
This summer, the YMCA will also be partnering with the Hollister School District to provide lunches for all campers, as well as any youth in the community 18 years or under, from June 11 to July 27.
“Everything we do is for the community," Canchola said.
More information on summer camp opportunities and the YMCA of San Benito County can be found on the organization's website or by calling the YMCA at (831) 637-8600.