YMCA day camp in Plum offers plenty of activities

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Tim Van Horn spends his days teaching math and physics and coaching at Norwin High School.

Van Horn, 25, of Vandergrift continues working with children during the summer at Plum's East Suburban Family YMCA day camp.

“It's fun,” Van Horn said last week while supervising children playing basketball in the gym.

“Being a camp counselor makes me a better teacher. And being a teacher makes me a better counselor. Plus, I don't like sitting just sitting around during the summer.”

The camp, with 36 counselors, opened June 10 and continues through Aug. 23.

Ben Raible, director of youth development who also oversees the day camp, said about 225 children each week attend the program.

Program members pay $160 a week per child. Facility members are charged $140 a week per child.

Camp hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Extended care is available from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at no extra cost.

The campers are from a variety of school districts including: Plum, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Kiski, McKeesport, Norwin, Penn Hills, Penn-Trafford and Riverview.

The campers engage in a wide range of activities on the 55-acre facility, including swimming, kickball, soccer, hiking, scavenger hunts, fishing, canoeing and arts and crafts.

Fridays are field-trip day or special-event day at the facility.

Children ages 5 to 12 are participating in the activities this year. Raible said the YMCA scaled back from serving ages 3-14 because of the $11 million expansion project going on at the Route 286 facility.

The expansion will nearly double the size of the 20,000-square-foot facility. Construction is expected to be completed in 2014.

“It has been great,” said Raible, 31, of North Huntingdon. “There is a lot more to do here than we realized a month ago (with the construction project). The site development is complete so there are not a lot of big trucks on site.”

Raible said officials will have some challenges later this month when construction begins on the building expansion.

The project includes a 30,000-square-foot addition with a wellness center and track; a teaching kitchen; an indoor aquatic center, including a warm-water therapy pool; a new and expanded child-care area and summer day camp; a new community room; locker rooms; a preventive health class and rehabilitation-program area; and potentially a teen center.

“The staff has done a great job,” Raible said. “They have put a positive spin on everything, and that trickles down to the children.”

Many of the children have attended summer day camp for several years including Darrius Davis, 11, of Wilkins.

“I like basketball, dodgeball, arts and crafts — it's all fun,” said Davis, a camper for five years.

Sydney Vernon, 9, of Plum attends the YMCA before- and after-school program as well as summer day camp.

“Swimming is fun,” the youngster said. “And I like spending time with my friends.”

Michayla Booth, 5, of Monroeville has made new friends at camp.

“I like playing the games,” said Booth who plans to return next summer.

Natalia Albamonti, 9, of Murrysville enjoys spending her summer at camp.

“I like it here,” she said. “It is fun, and I get a lot of exercise.”

The YMCA continues to accept registrations for the summer day camp.

More information is available on the website at www.ymcapgh.org or by calling 724-327-4667.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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