COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- Summer days were long last year. The pandemic shut down the in-person camps, bible school, and neighborhood activities, but COVID- 19 precautions have been lifted in the area. Field trips, fun, and games are what kids are enjoying now after having empty playgrounds last year because most families kept their kids in the house at the peak of the pandemic.
“I think we were surprised. We advertised the camp as usual and then we saw camps filled way before the camps even started and they are full all summer long all 10 weeks,” said Columbus YMCA Christian mission director Stephanie Gibson.
Gibson said last year they saw their lowest numbers and this year is the complete opposite. The YMCA has camps going on in Caledonia, downtown Columbus, and has partnered with the housing authority to open another location for kids to enjoy summer fun.
“This partnership with the housing authority is robust and very valuable to us. When we couldn’t do as many children in camp last year we actually came to this site, which is the former palmer home campus and we did a huge feeding program last year during covid,” said Gibson.
Gibson said people often forget the YMCA stands for the Youth Men’s Christian Association; so that is what camp leaders and officials try to teach the kids along with other valuable life lessons.
“We want to implement Jesus in all that we do.. we start off with prayer. We’ll play together go out and just do different activities. We have educational opportunities like 4-H coming to teach the kids,” said camp leader Jamera James.
“The summer camps are very important and you know we’re teaching Christian values to our youth and we’re also teaching character building and just teaching them to be good responsible citizens and teaching them how to build friendships and relationships,” said Columbus YMCA director Jimmy Woodruff.
The Mississippi Food Network provides meals and snacks to the kids for each of the camps. The snacks are stowed away at the downtown YMCA in Columbus for the camp at the YMCA and at the old palmer home. Getting a record number of kids into camps this year has put smiles on the faces of kids and staff members.
“I think that it’s super important that they come and that they’re able to express themselves and to have fun and learn new things and have new opportunities to just be a kid and have fun instead of just being outside and doing any kind of thing that could be potentially dangerous to their future,” said James.
Camp officials encourage parents that weren’t able to get their kids into camps this year to still get them into something fun for the summer, and if you want to get kids signed up for the YMCA camp try to get on as soon as it’s posted next year.