Grant to Outer Banks Family YMCA Provides Healthy Options for Dare Children and Teens

Nags Head Police Officer Mitchell and K9 Officer Ami lead an Outer Banks Family YMCA summer day camp community presentation.

A June 2023 Community Enrichment grant from Outer Banks Community Foundation to the Outer Banks Family YMCA helped Dare County school-aged children and youth have access to a fun, productive summer through teen memberships and summer camperships. The “Safe Summer Programs for Youth and Teens” grant supported the Y’s goal to serve all local children and teens, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. The Community Foundation grant offset costs for day camp for approximately 30% of their campers and helped pay for summer memberships for 67 teens.

Summer camp can be one of the most fun and formative experiences in a young child’s life, and is a place where new skills are learned, new horizons are explored, and lasting friendships are made. 133 campers between the ages of five and 12 took part in summer day camp over eleven weeks at our local YMCA. Many of these campers participated for the entire summer, a time marked with swim sessions; weekly educational visits from a variety of community leaders; fun, campy themes; and lots of games, arts, sports, and activities.

“Our camp day begins at 7:30 to accommodate working parents’ schedules,” said Children’s Program Director Sam Wills. “Each week has a different theme, and high energy and physical activity was a given. It’s so rewarding to see how much our campers grow over the summer months.”

In addition to summer camp, the Outer Banks Family Y offered free summer memberships to any teen who applied. 67 local teens took advantage of free memberships this summer, up from 41 in 2022. Teens had access to the weight rooms, exercise classes, gym, and pool, affording them a safe community space to be active, find friends, and work on fitness goals.

One teen wrote, “It’s cool coming to swim and play basketball whenever I want, especially when it’s hot outside.”

Parents of young children were equally appreciative. “Thanks so much for giving him a fun summer. He had a blast!”

“Thank you for the best summer! P had a great time! We love the Y!”

“YMCA summer camps are important because they provide a holistic learning and growth experience for children,” said Outer Banks YMCA Executive Director Jamie Koch. “Y camps offer a structured and fun-filled environment where kids can discover their potential, build relationships, and develop life skills that serve them well into adulthood. The values, friendships, and experiences gained from YMCA summer camps contribute significantly to a child’s development, fostering qualities that shape them into responsible, empathetic, and confident individuals.”

“We’re incredibly grateful to receive the Community Foundation summer youth programs grant,” continued Sam. “It ensures that every child can experience the life-changing advantages of summer camp.”