YMCA of the Palouse set to put on summer day camp

JACOB MOORE, Evergreen recreation editor

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Children ages 5 to 12 can now sign-up for YMCA of the Palouse’s annual Summer Day Camp program, which begins this upcoming Monday and will run until Aug. 25.

Even though the YMCA is in downtown Pullman, Director of Community Outreach Kayla Iverson makes it clear that children from all over the Palouse are welcome to sign up for the program.

“We’ve had people come from Tri-Cities, come from Oaksdale and Moscow … we’re not YMCA of Pullman, we’re YMCA of the Palouse,” Iverson said. “We like to really promote that inclusive element to this camp.”

Iverson also emphasized that the summer camp is a licensed program, which means they have to meet standards for staffing and the structure of their programs.

LUKE HOLLISTER | The Daily Evergreen
Children play four square at a YMCA of the Palouse after school program June 2 at Sunnyside Elementary School. The YMCA’s summer camp will be held outside of the elementary school.

“We’re not just that daycare where you can send your kid for up to 11 hours a day,” she said.

Instead, the hours of camp go from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Summer camp includes both physical and mental activities, like swimming and reading.

Interim Director of Programs Alison Poteracke said reading is especially important during the summer, as retention rates are typically low for children outside of school.

Iverson also noted the challenge of combatting learning loss over the summer, as children forget much of what they learned in the school year.

“Our lessons incorporate educational and developmentally positive elements to them,” to improve retention, Iverson said.

Poteracke said YMCA of the Palouse is unique in that it includes children in community development through service learning.

Iverson said the YMCA is unique in another respect, too.

“No child is going to be turned away because of a family’s inability to pay,” Iverson said.

She said they provided almost $11,000 in financial assistance last summer, and that they are the only free lunch program in Pullman. She noted that this is important because Pullman does not qualify for USDA funding in the summer.

On top of making sure participants can eat, parents want to ensure their children are safe. Because the summer camp is a licensed program, employees who work with children must meet high standards, Iverson said. They must pass a background check, blood borne pathogens testing and CPR training, and they must obtain a food handler card.

There are many hoops to jump through to work as a camp counselor, but Iverson said it’s all about safety.

The full summer camp fee is about $1,500, but families also have the option to pay for individual summer months. Registration can be found at YMCA of the Palouse’s website.