Summer Camp Offers Friendship, Fun & Field Trips, But There’s More

Increased confidence, active minds and bodies, and strengthened friendships are some of the benefits Gothenburg parents said their kids gained by participating in YMCA Summer Camp in 2023.

The Gothenburg YMCA Summer Camp included activities such as walking to the park, outdoor play time, STEM programs such as Lego building, PE class in the gym, swimming at the outdoor pool and many fun field trips. The camp was offered daily from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. An average of eighteen kids attended each day.

Roni and Ben McNally signed their two sons up for camp to keep them busy and active all summer instead of sitting and home and watching TV. Hudson, 8, has participated in summer camp for two years, and Karter, 5, for one year.

Roni said Hudson’s favorite part of camp was playing kickball and dodgeball in the gym. He enjoyed teaching the younger kids how to play and interacting with the high-school camp counselors. Karter enjoyed his friend time and pool time.

“He loved going to the pool this year because he got to go off the diving board by himself, and his swimming improved because of how much they were at the pool,” Roni said.

“We are just thankful that in a little community like Gothenburg there is somewhere for kids to go to keep them busy through the summer and that teaches them how to be respectful and listen and play nice with friends,” Roni said. “It’s been nice. The Y does so much with them. It’s just peace of mind that you don’t have to worry about what the kids will do during the summer.”

Jake and Kayla Knauss signed up their sons, Joel (7) and Conner (5) for summer camp to give them a chance to hang out with friends and stay active during the summer.

“They loved the amount of swimming they got to do this summer,” Kayla said. “Their favorite part of the camp was the trip Grand Island. They are still talking about what a blast they had at Island Oasis and Spring City.”

Kayla said as parents, they appreciated the amount of physical activity the kids participated in throughout the summer.

“The YMCA program offers a great way for them to interact with their friends in a safe environment,” she said. “Every day is full of activities, and each Friday they take a field trip to end the week.”

In addition to Island Oasis and Spring City in Grand Island, YMCA summer campers also traveled to Cody Park in North Platte, Wild Bills bowling in North Platte, the Splash Pad in Cozad, and the Big Apple in Kearney.

Leann and Brandon Buckley’s son Ryker, 7, has been involved in YMCA summer camp for 3 years.

“I originally registered Ryker for two days per week of summer camp, just to dip his toes into meeting new friends and learning from new experiences,” Leann said. “By the end of the second day, he was asking to attend camp daily, and the rest is history. He’s been attending every day, every summer since!”

Ryker enjoys the camp’s outdoor activities, including fishing, kayaking, and swimming.

Leann said one of the most noticeable changes she saw in Ryker this summer was his increased confidence.

“The variety of activities and challenges offered encourages kids to step out of their comfort zones and try new things,” she said. “The friendships forged at camp have also been invaluable and have extended well beyond summer camp.”

Leann said she appreciates the warm and welcoming environment created by YMCA staff to put parents and kids at ease.

“We are incredibly grateful to have the YMCA here in Gothenburg and are already looking forward to summer camp 2024,” she said.

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