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Counting down to the start of its summer camp sessions, Marco’s YMCA promises a healthy blend of educational, social and physical activities for kids. And while the Y, of course, caters to the local student community, it also embraces nearby East Naples by running camps for youngsters from lesser-privileged families.

The camps kick off in just over a month on June 5 at the Y, as well as Manatee and Parkside elementary schools, Everglades City School and the Marco Island Charter Middle School.

“Right now, we’re doing all the preparing,” Charlene Garcia, the Y’s school age manager, said. “We’re negotiating with schools, finalizing the hours, creating bus routes, hiring camp counselors and looking for people to give presentations to kids (in their fields of expertise.)

Naturally, running camps with a supervisory staff of about 60 people taking care of a hoped-for 1,000 students costs money. This is covered in part by the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), which itself benefits each year through the hugely successful Naples Wine Festival. Parents are asked to pay $80 a week, but many families (particularly from the East Naples area) receive breaks in the form of  “scholarships,” Garcia said.

"We never turn anybody away,” she said, “and we have open registration throughout the summer."

In keeping with the Y’s healthy living philosophy, students’ physical progress will be logged and monitored with the aim of increasing their overall fitness, Garcia said. This occurs through fixed sets of exercises.

On the academic side, the emphasis is on literacy and math, courtesy of the services of some teachers from the Collier County School district. Garcia said field trips are in the cards, and program partnerships with local libraries are also probable.

Additional options will likely include programs in the visual arts, video technology (for middle schoolers), Zumba dance workouts and clay modeling.

“We’re going to keep every one of them engaged,” Garcia said. "It’s a balance of physical and mental: healthy bodies, minds and spirits.”

For more information on the Y and its variety of programs and activities for adults and students, visit greatermarcoymca.com

IF YOU GO

Y Summer Camps

When: June 5 through Aug. 15 (Marco), and through July 28 (Naples venues)

Cost: $80 per student per week ($90 non-Y members). Siblings $70. Discounts for early payment. Subsidies available by application.

Ages: Elementary schools K-5, middle schools grades 6-8

Activities: Academic, physical, social, arts, crafts

Prospective camp councilors: E-mail Garcia at schoolage@marcoy.org

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