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YMCA near Mt. Pleasant to host summer camp open house

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The Regional Family YMCA of Laurel Highlands will host an open house and registration for its summer camp program 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 11.

Children and their parents will have the opportunity to meet staff members at the facility on Bessemer Road in East Huntingdon and obtain information about upcoming activities planned.

A giant, inflatable slide will be on site to entertain children while their parents gather information.

There are several scheduling options available for parents.

The camp runs from June 3 through Aug. 23.

School-aged children can attend camp any time between 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Extended hours are offered to accommodate working parents.

Attendees must have completed kindergarten to attend the camp for school-aged children.

In addition, two preschool camps are available:

• Kindercamp for children ages 4 and 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday;

• Little Tots camp for children ages 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday and Thursday.

Information packets and registration forms will be available for parents.

A registration deposit of $10 for each week of expected attendance in the program is required.

In addition to organized outdoor play and activities, participants will attend weekly field trips.

This year's anticipated field trips include outings to Mammoth Park, Powder Mill Nature Reserve, Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, Inventionland, Chocolate Factory and Fort Ligonier.

Children will also participate in off-site roller skating and swimming.

Swimming will be held every Friday at various locations, including Youngwood Park and Pool, Veterans Memorial Pool in Greensburg and Flatwoods Pool in Vanderbilt.

Participants will learn how to plant and harvest a garden as they did for the first time last year.

“The kids loved the garden last year, and I have a feeling they will want to plant even more this year,” said Cindi Huffman, the facility's director of child care services. “We used the produce to make different things for the campers to taste last year.”

Huffman added that participating children will get to decide what to do with the harvested produce. One consideration for vegetables not prepared for the children is to donate them to a local food bank.

Lisa Ray of Scottdale said she has been sending her daughter, Sarah DuBrul, 11, to the camp for three or four years.

As a nurse who works 12-hour days, Ray said it is a great solution.

She added that she likes the program's flexible schedule and the ability to change days to attend due to illness or other obligations.

Ray said she also is comfortable sending her daughter to “the safe and secure facility” to keep her daughter active during the summer months while she is working.

“We absolutely love it. Sarah enjoys meeting and making friends with kids from other school districts,” Ray said.

The YMCA adheres to state regulations for student to staff ration.

Regulations requires one staff member per 12 school-aged children.

However, the facility usually has a 1-to-10 ratio.

The preschool program maintains a 1-to-8 ratio with a 1-to-6 ratio for children ages 2 and 3.

Harlen Funk of Mt. Pleasant has been on staff working with children ages 6 through 13 for seven years.

There are a plethora of benefits that come from attending our summer camps, he said. Participating children are staying active and they are involved in numerous activities such as sports and team building activities, he said.

The children are also creating new friendships, he said.

Many of the kids go to school with each other, but there are kids from neighboring school districts that children don't meet otherwise, he added.

Funk also said that working with children has been a passion of his since he was a sophomore in at Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School, and it is the reason he became a teacher.

He said he has seen hundreds of kids come and go throughout his time working with campers.

“However, the one thing that keeps me coming back is knowing I can be a positive influence in many of these kids lives,” Funk said. “Whether it be helping them with simple things such as sharing and team work, or even just being there to listen to their stories. I want to be a role model that the kids can look up to.”

Parents can send their children every week, one week or as many as they choose throughout the summer.

Preschool camps require a one session commitment, the equivalent to one month.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or

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