Teamwork ensures Y summer camps happen

Marco efforts secure young counselors for the job

Healthy outdoor activities are an integral part of the program.

It’s no secret that hiring has been a problem as COVID precautions gradually subside, but the YMCA of South Collier (Marco Y) has neatly solved the problem. Staff teamwork did the trick.

It took a concerted effort, lots of online solicitation and plenty of personal networking to make sure enough camp counselors would be available to oversee the hundreds of children expected to attend the variety of camps.

Academic activities are geared to fun learning, especially in the literacy and math areas.

“It’s been a hot topic everywhere, ” said Charlene Rose, the Y’s school age manager, of the odd pandemic side-effect. “We reached out to graduating seniors (18 and older) as well as college students,” said Rose, who coordinated the effort along with long-time colleague and Youth Development Director Stephanie Pepper. “Now we’re fully staffed for all sites,” said Rose.

Those sites include Marco Island and Naples, as well as traditional off-island venues such as Parkside and Manatee elementary schools and also the Marco Island Charter Middle School, which will host students from various middle schools from the East Naples area.

Apart from daily camps (for which subsidies are available for kids from needy families), plenty of specialty camps such as Futsal (soccer on a solid floor), volleyball, basketball, dance and theater are also on offer. Daily camp academics are also important, but not to the point of overkill.

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“We focus on the literacy and match areas mainly,” Rose said. “For example, if we have kids make their own board games, that’s a math component. With literature, the idea is to have fun while learning writing and punctuation.”

Last week, when the various counselor positions were filled, the next step was intensive training on selected evenings for the next couple of weeks. “We train them in the Y core values,” Rose said. “They (the counselors) in turn help give (campers) experiences that they might not be exposed to. The idea is to help the kids thrive, be successful and well-grounded.” Rose, who has around two decades’ experience with the Y, apart from seeing children develop, is most gratified when their parents thank the Y team at the end of summer.

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“This is especially when there have been kids with issues or special needs, and we’ve helped them, ” she said. Full summer camp details are available on the Y’s website. And, for more on the Y's wide variety of programs and activities for adults and children, visit or call 394-YMCA (9622).

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