Holiday day camp keeps kids busy

December 27, 2011

By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

If you thought camp was just for the summer, think again. The YMCA’s Christmas Day Camp is keeping area children busy during their holiday break from school.

The day camp was held last week and is being held this week at both the Collinsville and Martinsville YMCAs for any child 4-12 years of age.

The days are filled with physical activities such as basketball, arts and crafts, field trips and visits from local organizations.

Each day at the camp, there is something different. For three days last week, 4-H members visited the children. On Dec. 19, 4-H members talked about staying healthy and ways to exercise. Members played an interactive video game with the children that showed the kids a fun way to burn calories, according to 4-H agent Brian Hairston.

The next day, 4-H members made soap and Christmas ornaments with the students, and on Wednesday, members told them about gangs. They watched a video that told how to recognize a gang or a bully and how important it is to tell someone when you see another person being bullied.

The video was part of a gang-awareness program sponsored by the Governor’s Safe and Drug-Free Schools Community Act. Locally, it involves the 21st District Court, Henry County Sheriff’s Office and 4-H, according to Hairston.

Members of CHILL (Communities Helping Improve Local Lives), a youth task force, will speak this week, presenting a teenager’s point-of-view about making smart decisions and encouraging kids to take part in after-school activities, said Marie Nixon, YMCA family event coordinator.

During the other days of the camp, students will participate in field trips to Roll-A-Bout skating center in Collinsville and Celebration Station, a recreation center featuring go-karts, mini-golf, batting cages, bumper boats and arcade games, in Greensboro, N.C., according to Cordia Al-Qahhar, site director at the Martinsville YMCA.

On Friday, the students were scheduled to sing Christmas carols at Blue Ridge Nursing Home. This week, they will learn to make pancakes. They also will write their New Year’s resolutions, she added.

Every day of the camp, the children have character-building lessons that remind them of the importance of being trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair and caring and being good citizens, Hairston said.

“They are ethical values that each child should know,” he added.

To close out the camp on Dec. 30, students will go to Pizza Hut and have a dance afterward where they will get to perform their favorite line dances, Al-Qahhar said.

Having such a camp during Christmas break is important because “it’s a safe environment, and it keeps them (the students) engaged” when school is not in session, Al-Qahhar said.

“The parents are very appreciative” that there is a place for their children to go during Christmas break, she added. The camp also is important because it allows students to interact with children from different schools, she said.

The Christmas Day Camp began in 1995. This year so far, about 60 children have been enrolled, Nixon said.

She added that the YMCA holds day camps anytime area schools are closed, such as teacher work days and inclement weather days. The only days that the YMCA is not open are July 4 and Labor Day, she said.

The cost of the program is $18 a day, which includes morning and afternoon snacks. For more information, call Becky Forestier at 647-3089.


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