If your family is looking forward to some warmer weather with cool activities, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte is heating up the fun. The Y is one of the only places in town to offer a ton of summer fun all in one place for the whole family.
But joining the Y as a family is more than soaking up the fun in the pool for the summer or working out in gyms. Families tell Y staff that they love the discounted rates they get on programs like summer day camp, youth sports and personal training. For kids who are looking for a place to grow and build confidence through friendships, games and activities, the YMCA's summer day camp can be just the place for them this year. No matter where you live or what your child's interests are, there is a summer day camp option near you. Cruise over to the Y's website to see how your child can play hard and dream big this summer at camp.
"The summer is a great time to give your child the experience of learning a new sport or activity at camp," said Adrianne Hobbs, mom of four and Executive Director of Family Services at the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. "Kids love the freedom of summer within the structure of a safe and nurturing environment like camp. We see as much growth in their confidence and social skills as we do their physical skills through play."
That "play" is a critical driver in the development that Hobbs and her colleagues work toward for members and families. From swim lessons for all ages to Afterschool and Preschool programs that nurture a learning environment, the YMCA is a leader in building the community one child at a time.
"A lot of folks think of us as a swim and gym, and of course we have those amenities," Hobbs said. "But I like to remind people that those are starting points for a relationship with the Y. There is so much more here for children and families, and it becomes a place where people become community."
Hobbs knows this well as she's been a part of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte for 14 years, having started her career as a Group Exercise instructor at the Lowe's YMCA in Mooresville and then moved into leadership positions at the Stratford-Richardson YMCA branch on West Boulevard and now as the Executive Director of Youth Development for the 19-branch Association.
"When we talk about our pools and water at the Y, it's about the joy of providing a place for families to swim together or see a child or adult grow confidence through swim lessons," Hobbs said."But it's also about programs we create for the community like Safety Around Water that gives families living in apartments in low-income neighborhoods the opportunity to learn basic life-saving skills and water safety. It is deeply rooted in the history and spirit of what the Y is all about."
What started as a movement over 100 years ago in the United States has evolved into an organization that welcomes people of all ages and stages. "When you join the YMCA, you are joining a community," said Yolanda Pitchford, Executive Director of Membership for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and mom to a college basketball player who dribbled her first ball at the Y. "We have so much to offer regardless of where you are in your life. We see young people who were summer campers or Afterschool students join the Y after college and eventually bring their own children to play basketball, swim in the pool and run 5Ks. The Y is truly timeless."
Pitchford said that many people come into the YMCA expecting to work out or sign their child up for a summer day camp experience. "But when those families discover all the amazing benefits that they can get from a YMCA membership, they are pleasantly surprised. It's especially fun to see the joy on people's faces when they learn that we have an income-based membership pricing structure that gives everyone the ability to afford and access the Y," Pitchford said.
That structure is called My Y Pricing, and it was developed six years ago in an effort to create an affordable way to welcome anyone who wants or needs a YMCA membership the access to make it a reality. Pitchford said it has given families and individuals peace of mind to know that giving their child a place to explore and dream at camp or themselves a place to work out despite a chronic illness or injury can be a reality at the YMCA. "No other organization can claim that sense of welcoming community," she said.
If you are newer to the YMCA family, you may not know that the Y's reach into Charlotte's neighborhoods is wider and deeper than just the 19 branches. For families with kids, there are programs which become "Ys without walls" in that they take the mission of the Y to strengthen spirits, bodies and minds for all and extend that to those who need extra support. For example, Y Readers is a nationally recognized literacy program that serves students in grades K-3 who are reading below grade level. The program operates as a six-week summer camp as well as a before/after school program. The mission of Y Readers is to provide the additional support that students need to be proficient in reading by the end of third grade. Whether your child needs extra help or if you are interested in volunteering, the YMCA makes the options for community available for all.
So if you and your family are looking to add some fun to your summer, look no further than the YMCA of Greater Charlotte. From pools and summer day camps to workouts and volunteer opportunities, there is something for your whole crew to enjoy. But don't worry that the fun will end when summer ends – the Y has more indoor pools than anybody, most of their 19 branches are open seven days a week and volunteer and community efforts continue year-round. In other words, joining the Y now just means you enjoy the summer fun and get to extend that adventure even after school starts back in the fall.
Visit the YMCA online at ymcacharlotte.org to learn more about the amazing opportunities for families and kids. And then come see for yourself at one of the 19 branches across a four-county area of the greater Charlotte area all that there is for you to enjoy as a member. You'll receive a short tour based on your preferences. If you're interested in swimming, you'll see the pool; if you want to get your child engaged in an Afterschool or Preschool program, come during program hours, and you'll see the kids in action; if you are excited about group fitness, you'll see the Y's certified instructors leading a variety of classes. Still not sure how best to jump in? Give the YMCA of Greater Charlotte a call at 704 716 6200, and we can help guide you on how you can best spring into summer at the YMCA!
See you at the Y!