New experiences can be a formidable obstacle; especially for young children. Young children have less prior knowledge on which to draw information from. They may have difficulty predicting an outcome and that can result in a perceived, or very real, loss of control. The inability to control or influence a situation can be frightening for a person at any age; but imagine a child who lacks the beneficial assurance of “surviving” similar circumstances in the past. Every first swim class, first ride on the bus, or first new friend can be a dramatic adventure into the unknown. I’m sure as parents you’re much more qualified and prepared to deal with these unpredictable situations than I am. However, as a provider of many of these new experiences for children in Kazakhstan, China, and the Middletown YMCA I feel I can be a qualified advocate for providing new experiences for children.
Everyone develops differently. Some children are comfortable in new situations, while others take time to adjust. However your child develops, there are theories of cognitive development that lend some insight into the process influencing a child’s behavior. Jean Piaget’s stage theory (1932) implies there are four stages of development in children. You can take a look at the four stages in this simple chart. Since 1932, criticisms of this theory included the rather streamlined focus of overall development. This is known as “domain general”, which means learning is developed consistently over all the domains, or intelligences. There is a belief that these domains develop independently of each other and everyone develops these intelligences uniquely. This theory has also been criticized as of late, as do things amongst progression of technology and more information.
Although the Stage Theory has been debated, Piaget’s thoughts on how children process and internalize outside stimulus (assimilation and accommodation) are still utilized. Assimilation describes a situation in which a person receives new information and inserts it into previously identified knowledge (schema). This new information might not be consistent with reality because it is made to fit into the current knowledge of the child. This can be observed when a young child learns the word for dog. That child might call all animals dogs because his/her current schema does not differentiate between specific animals. Accommodation is the process of adjusting the current schema appropriately based on new external information. Using the prior example: the child now recognizes that the duck in front of him/her has very different characteristics than a dog and thus, cannot be called a dog. Ideally, both processes are working concurrently. Children are first accommodating new information using their senses, and then assimilating this new information into their current knowledge.
Most of us know that new experiences are beneficial to child development. Understanding the processes involved in this growth are essential in creating appropriate opportunities for your child to develop. It is difficult to watch a person struggle to accommodate new information and then discover how to assimilate that information into their existing perceptions. How can we set up children to succeed in these new environments? Children should be encouraged to challenge themselves, but success should be achievable. They should be comfortable in their environment and encouraged to explore and discover for themselves. They should be given the necessary tools to start and create new relationships; whether being encouraged to give high fives or sharing similar interests in group activities.
Friends, teachers, parents, and coaches all offer different learning perspectives. As a youth sports instructor and an assistant camp director at YMCA Camp Ingersoll I see relationships form and children develop every day. Many campers are experiencing basketball, hockey, archery, ropes, the pond, and camp crafts for the very first time. At the YMCA, we intentionally create peer interaction and challenging but achievable goals for our participants. We work to provide a fun and inviting atmosphere children can become more comfortable in every day. We are also offering some brand new programs this Spring, which can help to prepare you child for camp, school, or just plan life. Visit the Middlesex YMCA’s website to learn more about our programs.
I grew up with two brothers and a sister. Saturdays were spent in a mini-van traversing across Middlesex County from soccer practice, baseball games, and dance classes. In hindsight, it’s no small feat that my parents could navigate the chaotic landscape of four eager and outgoing children. They could have simply locked the door and forced us to fend for ourselves forgoing expensive gas stops, temper tantrums, and who knows what else we put them through.
However, they persevered through all the headaches because they saw the value in these experiences. They saw us laugh with new friends. They heard us shout triumphantly when we mastered a new skill. They acknowledged the relationships we built with our coaches and instructors as essential to our growth and development as part of a community.
I am forever grateful for these childhood experiences my parents were willing to provide me. But, to be honest, I remember very little of the lessons or practices themselves. What I do remember are my coaches. I remember how cool they were. I remember trying my hardest to impress them in order to get the “good job” or “high five”. It wasn’t a chore to get me to those practices or lessons. I waited eagerly for Saturday and my coaches were the catalyst behind that desire.
These non-parental adult role models occupy a large portion of my childhood memories. They have positively influenced my life by volunteering time, reinforcing positive values, and showing me examples of what it means to be part of my community. The “Journal of Extension” talks about how “Youth have a tendency to listen more closely to another adult other than their parent. They even accept advice and accept challenges by non-parental adults”.
At the Middlesex YMCA our mission drives our responsibility to provide adult role models for our community. Our Youth Mentors, Kids Korner Staff, Camp Counselors, and Youth Sports Coaches all strive to provide an atmosphere of inclusion and growth for our participants. We emphasize the four character traits of Honesty, Caring, Respect, and Responsibility while creating age and developmentally appropriate activities for all of our children. We are aware of our influence on the youth of our community and are always excited for the opportunity to create lasting memories with our participants.
New memories will be made at our Winter 2 Session of youth sports starting on February 2nd. Click here for our Winter Program Guide.
If you are interested in reading more about the importance of non-parental adult role models please visit this article on the Journal of Extension’s website.
We have all heard that camp is the place for campers to explore the great outdoors, learn values, make friends with “professional role models” in a fun and safe environment. Well I can tell you first hand that it truly is, and there is much more that camp has to offer!
For the past 16 years, I always thought I knew what the benefits that a camp experience has had on a camper. I often talk about the values and confidence we instill, the new experiences we offer, and the friendships that can be made. But it wasn’t my son attended camp for the first time last summer that I not only saw the effects, but felt them in my home. Michael went from being one of those nervous campers that would not sing at flag or swim during afternoon rec swim, to just a few short weeks later, one of those campers that would jump right into the water (as well as swim under water!) and sing songs as loud as he could, doing his best to imitate the movements as well.
That experience for my family and I last year further solidified my belief that every child should be able to attend, regardless of their ability to pay. Though the cost to run a high quality camp program increases each year, the Y is committed to serve all our families within our diverse community.
In our best effort to raise the amount of funds needed to cover the true cost of camp, without risking some of our families losing out on the opportunity to attend, I am very pleased to announce our voluntary 4-tier pricing program for our Summer Camp programs.
Tiered Pricing will allow families to choose the price that works best for them. Naming your price requires no paperwork and in no way influences the experience your child will receive at camp.
Tier 1 is based on the True Cost of campers participating in the selected programs. It includes direct expenses, field trips, special guests and long-term wear and tear. If you are able to pay this amount, please do so. Thank you.
Tier 2 is a partially subsidized rate that will enable families that just can’t afford the full cost of the camp to attend. Please, choose this rate if your family has the need to receive a subsidized rate.
Tier 3 is a more heavily subsidized rate for families whose children would not be able to attend camp otherwise. If you unable to afford either of the higher rates, please pay this amount.
Tier 4 is our traditional Open Doors Program.
You know your family’s financial situation better than we do. Please carefully consider the amount that your family can afford. If the middle price seems comfortable to you, choose it. If you think you can help with some of the bigger expenses of the camps, please choose the higher price. And remember, our practice is that no one is turned away for a lack of funds. If paying for camp is a significant challenge for your family and need additional help, please contact us. We want to welcome everyone one to join us because we believe the experience we offer at camp is invaluable!
I hope you will join us this summer!
Tony Sharillo, Camp Director
Lately I have heard a lot of talk about Summer Learning Loss and how it affects our children during the summer months. Summer Learning loss is an actual loss of academic skills and knowledge during summer vacation. The loss varies across subject matter, child’s grade level and family income. 100 years of research show that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004). All children experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer and due to the cost of summer programs, children that come from lower income families experience more of a loss (Alexander et al, 2007).
According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), summer camp programs can help stem summer learning loss. Camp is the experiential classroom. It is a place where children learn how to solve everyday problems that relate to social situations and how to managing time. Camps also provide them with opportunities to take calculated risks such as participating in the High Ropes Course or sing a camp song in front of peers. Numerous studies show that camps positively affect children’s self esteem, confidence and motivation, all which lead to improved academic performance.
Finding the right summer program for your family can be challenging. Indicators of a quality program include: licensing or accreditation, age of counselor and camp leaders, counselor to camper ratio and site or facilities. Of course other factors to think about are location, price and hours of operation. For a complete list of currently licensed programs visit: http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3151&q=400928&dphNav=|&dphNav_GID=1863.
Of course with programs such as Mega Science, Rocketry Camp, Film Making and our Reading Program, YMCA Camp Ingersoll intentionally supplements its traditional camp experience with enriching and educational experiences. Our Open Doors program also ensures that no one is turned away base on their ability to pay. For more information about YMCA Camp Ingersoll and nearly 20 camp programs visit www.campingersoll.org.
Due to the popular demand of Fort Building Camp at YMCA Camp Ingersoll we have created a new fort building camp, “Mega Fort Building”! Mega Fort Building will be for campers entering grades 3-5, while Fort Building will be for campers entering grades 6-9. Both programs will operate the same and run all four sessions.
Check our website, www.campingersoll.org for session availability! If you have any questions, please feel free to call or email Maegan Musanti at (860) 343-6247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For both parents and kids, it’s never too early to start thinking about plans for the summer. Parents want to be sure their children are safe, supervised, and engaged in activities that keep their kids’ minds and bodies active after school lets out for the summer. Youngsters look forward to the free time, and simply want to have fun and learn something new. YMCAs have been serving communities for more than 150 years, and YMCA Camp Ingersoll, in Portland CT, is the perfect option for parents who are looking for a safe and fun place for their kids to build healthy mind, body and spirit this summer.
“Children are our greatest treasures and greatest responsibility,” said Tony Sharillo, Camp Director. “YMCA Camp Ingersoll helps kids grow positively, meet healthy role models and learn good values—all while having fun. We not only provide memories that last a lifetime, but we also assure parents that their kids are in good hands during the summer.”
Day camp for youth—the most popular program offered by YMCAs—provides youngsters with a unique opportunity to connect with their peers and their community. At the YMCA Camp Ingersoll our campers enjoy a broad range of age-appropriate programs, events and activities, from archery and high ropes to environmental science and camp crafts.
YMCA day camps provide a wealth of opportunity for kids to get active through play. This is especially important as rates of overweight and obesity among youth have increased dramatically over the past 25 years. In fact, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that school-age children should participate in moderate to vigorous activity for a minimum of 60 minutes a day. YMCA day camps help kids build healthy habits while having fun.
“The need is as strong today as ever before,” said Sharillo. “Being more physical activity through play helps children better manage stress, succeed in school, reduce stress, build energy and, most of all, learn skills that encourage a lifetime of activity.”
YMCAs today are collectively one of the nation’s largest providers of camping programs with 265 resident camps and nearly 2,000 day camps across the country, including 120 specialty camps for kids with disabilities. YMCAs serve nearly 400,000 youngsters and families each year through their resident camping programs. Another 600,000 enroll in YMCA day camps annually. YMCAs also employ nearly 12,000 teenagers each summer as lifeguards and camp counselors.
“For more than 150 years, YMCAs have developed initiatives and programs that have helped improve the physical, social, emotional and spiritual health for millions for Americans in diverse communities across the country,” said Sharillo. “Participation in camp provides kids and families with a chance to build friendship and community, a sense of well-being and confidence and improved physical, mental and cognitive abilities.
YMCA Camp Ingersoll programs are affordable experiences for families, with financial assistance available to send any child to camp this summer.
Visit www.campingersoll.org or call Tony Sharillo, 860-343-6237, to learn more about YMCA Camp Ingersoll day camps for youth and teens.