by Brett Freeman







If it seems like summer camp at the YMCA has been an integral part of summer vacation since before you can remember, that’s because it has.

The first YMCA summer camp program was established in 1885 in Orange Lake, N.Y., and is still in operation. According to the YMCA website, it is the first known summer camp program in the United States.

A lot has changed since then.

For starters, most YMCA summer camps don’t involve actual camping. Those that do have “high tech” amenities like showers and toilets that the original YMCA campers had to go without. But the stated goal of that first camp, “to provide children with a positive developmental experience through making new friends, building confidence and growing in self-reliance,” remains a guiding principle nearly 130 years later.

“A lot of parents use summer camp for child care,” said Jason Lampton, YCommunity senior marketing director for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. “Our campers get so much more than childcare. We really want every camper to have the greatest experience they can, have fun, learn new skills, make friendships and memories, and build character, all in a safe, spiritual environment that is truly for all.”

As with the original YMCA camp, a lot of the activity revolves around water. Sally’s YMCA in Denver has an outdoor swimming pool and water park, and Lowe’s YMCA in Mooresville has two pools. The Lake Norman YMCA in Cornelius likewise has two pools, and it also sits on the lake, which allows it to offer activities most YMCA camps can’t.

“They have canoe rides, kayak rides, and there’s a trampoline out there (in the lake) and a giant slide,” Lampton said. “The kids have a ball out there. We actually have kids come from other branches for maybe a week or two just to get the experience on the lake.”

Water skiing and sailing are offered as add-on camps.

All of the YMCAs offer a variety of camp options, including groups that take field trips every day, sports camps, science camps, camps specifically for teens, and a Lego camp that started last year.

Camp Thunderbird on Lake Wylie and Camp Harrison in the mountains in Boomer offer week-long sleepover camps. The cost varies for each camp, and there is a sliding scale to help make the camps more affordable for lower income families.

“Our chief goal is character development and giving our campers a really memorable experience,” Lampton said. “We want our kids to develop healthy lifestyles by being active and engaged all summer.”

The Lake Norman YMCA will offer dozens of camps throughout the summer, beginning May 28 and running through Aug. 23.

Members of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte receive a reduced rate. Note that camps running the week of July 4 will have be prorated. Register for camps online at www.ymcacharlotte.org. Members can sign up now, and registration for others begins Feb. 15.

Preschool Camp

(Half-day – 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)

• Age 2

May 28-31, Wednesday and Friday. $47 for members, $66 for others.

May 28-June 28 or July 8-Aug. 23, Tuesday and Thursday. $54 for members, $76 for others.

May 28-Aug. 23, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. $70 for members, $98 for others.

Age 3

May 28-31, Wednesday and Friday. $47 for members, for others.

May 28-31, Tuesday-Friday. $82 for members, $115 for others.

May 28-Aug. 23, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. $70 for members, $98 for others.

May 28-June 28 or July 8-Aug. 23, Monday-Friday. $102 for members, $143 for others.

Age 4

May 28-31, Wednesday and Friday. $47 for members, $66 for others.

May 28-31, Tuesday-Friday. $82 for members, $115 for others.

May 28-Aug. 23, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. $70 for members, $98 for others.

May 28-June 28 or July 8-Aug. 23, Monday through Friday. $102 for members, $143 for others.

Day Camp

(Half-day, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.)

• Rising kindergarten-10th grade

May 28-31, Tuesday-Friday, $104/$145.

May 28-Aug. 23, Monday-Friday, $129/$181.

Day Camp

• Rising kindergarten-10th grade

May 28-31

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $138/$193

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $156/$218

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $168/$236

June 3-Aug. 23 (Monday-Friday)

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $172/$241

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $194/$272

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $210/$294

June 3 – Aug. 23 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday)

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $103/$145

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $116/$163

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $126/$176

DANCE AND CHEER

Cheerleading Camp

Rising kindergarten-seventh grade

May 28-31 and July 15-19

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $145/$203

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $165/$231

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $179/$251

Gymnastics Team Camp

Rising kindergarten-10th grade

June 17-21, July 22-26 and Aug. 5-9

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $177/$248

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $199/$279

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $216/$302

Dance Camp

Rising kindergarten-third grade

June 24-28, July 22-26 and Aug. 5-9

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $177/$248

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $199/$279

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $216/$302

• Fourth-seventh grades

Aug. 12-16

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $177/$248

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $199/$279

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $216/$302

July 1-5

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $177/$248

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $199/$279

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $216/$302

Gymnastics Camp

Rising kindergarten-seventh grade

June 1-Aug. 16

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $177/$248

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $199/$279

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $216/$302

SPORTS

Basketball Camp

• Rising kindergarten-seventh grade

July 1-5

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $145/$203

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $165/$231

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $179/$251

Tennis Camp

• Rising kindergarten-seventh grade

July 8-12 and Aug. 12-16

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $145/$203

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $165/$231

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $179/$251

Baseball Camp

Rising second-fifth grades

July 1-5

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $116/$163

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $132/$185

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $144/$201

Aug. 5-9

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $145/$203

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $165/$231

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $179/$251

Flag Football Camp

Rising fifth-seventh grades

June 10-14 and July 15-19

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $145/$203

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $165/$231

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $179/$251

Golf Camp

Rising fourth-seventh grades

June 24-28 and Aug. 12-16

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $209/$289

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $226/$312

THEMED CAMPS

Babysitting Camp

• Rising sixth-10th grades

June 10-14 and July 22-26

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $177/$248

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $199/$279

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $216/$302

Rock Camp

Rising kindergarten-fifth grade

July 1-5, July 22-26 and Aug. 5-9

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $145/$203

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $165/$231

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $179/$251

Field Trips Camp

Rising first-third grades

June 17-21, July 1-5, July 15-19, July 29-Aug. 2 and Aug. 12-16

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $187/$262

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $210/$294

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $226/$316

• Rising fourth-fifth grades

June 10-14, June 14-18, July 8-12, July 22-26 and Aug. 5-9

9 a.m.-3 p.m., $187/$262

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $210/$294

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $226/$316

Volunteer Camp

Rising sixth-10th grades

July 8-12 and July 22-26

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $199/$279

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $216/$302

Y Challenge Camp

• Rising sixth-10th grades

July 1-5 and July 29-Aug. 2

9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., $199/$279

9 a.m.-6 p.m., $216/$302