After a summer of fewer-campers-than-usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Patchogue and Brookhaven Roe YMCA is back in full swing, with four sessions of outdoor activities and indoor games as part of …
After a summer of fewer-campers-than-usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Patchogue and Brookhaven Roe YMCA is back in full swing, with four sessions of outdoor activities and indoor games as part of their summer camp program.
“One of the things kids missed last year was that they usually have cohorts of 30 kids so they can all play a kickball game together, or something like that. But due to COVID, the maximum was 15 kids and two counselors per cohort. So it just wasn’t enough kids for a full game,” said John Borromeo, executive director of Patchogue and Brookhaven Roe YMCA.
Now the kids are back to having 30 cohorts and can do their kickball games, according to Borromeo. Cohorts are groups of children, organized per age group, that attend camp activities with each other all day.
The pandemic was also a source of lasting inspiration for Patchogue and Brookhaven Roe YMCA. The camp’s yearly orientation had to take place on Zoom last year due to COVID-19 regulations, and now they record events and send them to parents via email because they realized the convenience of it. An upcoming production of “The Little Mermaid” will also be recorded and then sent via email.
“The pandemic taught us that we could do it on Zoom. It’s more convenient for the parents,” said Borromeo.
This year, 457 campers are registered for the four sessions at two different locations. Patchogue YMCA is home to the “kiddie camp” for campers ages 3 to 5, while Brookhaven Roe YMCA, located in Holtsville, is home to the Holtsville “youth camp,” where campers range from first grade to fourth grade. The Holtsville location is also home to a preteen and teen camp. Additionally, the camp is home to a Certified Counselor in Training (CIT) program, where 15-year-olds get trained on how to be a counselor. This year there are eight CITs, according to Tina Norbut, youth programs director for Patchogue and Brookhaven Roe YMCA.
“The average day starts with 9 a.m. arrival. Campers are greeted by their counselors and we start opening ceremonies, which get the campers excited to be here. We sing camp songs, do the pledge of allegiance and just overall get pumped for the day ahead,” said Norbut.
Daily activities include games, art, music and dance. Brookhaven Roe YMCA also has a ropes challenge course for building team spirit and self-esteem, and go-carts for campers to ride. Perhaps the program YMCA is most famous for is their aquatics. Brookhaven Roe YMCA is home to a 25-meter Olympic-size pool, which campers are given lessons in every day. Patchogue also has a pool that is 25 yards, which campers get lessons in three days a week.
Additionally, Brookhaven Roe YMCA is home to a literacy program that helps to fight “summer slag” in campers. “Summer slag” is a term given to the gap in learning many children experience during the summer. One way to combat this is with book reading. The literacy program is taught by a certified teacher who reads to the students and engages them in books, according to Norbut.
“This adds an academic element to camp. It helps with the ‘summer slide,’ especially when it comes to reading,” said Borromeo.
For more information on the camp, visit YMCALI.org.