“We’ve been running the YWCA Princeton summer camp for more than 15 years and now have the children of some of our campers. We have grandchildren of people who worked here as counselors,” says Tara O’Shea, Director of Youth Programs at the YWCA Princeton. “People come back because we’ve had a positive effect on their summer camp experience and they want to give their children a similar experience.” This positive effect has helped countless children who spent their summers playing, learning and growing their self esteem. “Every program includes a self-esteem building element. We put that common thread in our programs because we are building skills that will last a lifetime. We want children to have a positive experience and feel good about themselves,” said O’Shea.

The camp, which began June 18 with a Welcome Week program, has activities for children of all ages. People can still register for any of the five sessions running between June 23 and August 29. Highlights include Girls Gymnastics for ages 5-12, Adventure Camp for boys and girls ages 3-10, Sports/Travel camp for girls and boys age 10-13 and the Counselor In Training Program for teens. Each camp includes instructional swimming and plenty of outside play. “We provide an environment to help children grow, explore and interact with fellow campers and the environment. We’re helping both single-parent families and households that have both parents who work. That’s why we offer Pre-camp Programs from 7:30 to 8:30 in the morning and After Camp from 4:00 to 5:30 in the evening,” said O’Shea. The Sports/Travel camp provides instructions in baseball, basketball, flag football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and volleyball. It also offers trips to recreation centers and minor league ball games. Campers also receive instructional swim at the John Witherspoon pool.

Adventure Camp includes arts and crafts, enrichment activities, sports and special events or field trips. Each group of campers has a homeroom and scheduled activities tailored to the age group. The Counselor In Training Program gives teens a thorough and intense training for working with children. It also helps people who might want to work at the YWCA in the future. Each counselor follows a group of young campers and learns all aspects of being an outstanding camp counselor.

“Outstanding camp counselors are a crucial part of what makes us so valuable. Many counselors have come through our camps. They’ve been Counselors In Training or participated in other programs,” said O’Shea. “I make sure that not only are they trained, but that they really enjoy working with children.”

Another aspect that makes the camp so valuable is O’Shea’s emphasis on the YWCA mission – “Eliminating Racism and Empowering Women” – in every program. For example, she says the YWCA is a “Tease Free Bully Zone, where every child is taught to accept people’s cultural diversity and to show respect. It’s a concept carried through every program at YWCA Princeton.”

For information about the camps, call O’Shea at 609-497-2100, ext. 334, by e-mail at toshea@ywcaprinceton.org or visit website: www.princeton.org

YWCA Princeton. 59 Paul Robeson Place. Princeton, 609-497-2100. Fax: 609-924-8644. www.ywcaprinceton.org.

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