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Summer makes for happy campers in Plum

| Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Six-year-olds at the East Suburban Family YMCA Day Camp play a game of 'Nuke-Um' against the camp staff. RayLynn Beiriger lines up to throw against the opposing team.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader Six year olds at the East Suburban Family YMCA Day Camp play a game of 'Nuke-Um' against the camp staff. Nena McNeal hands off the ball to Raylynn Beiriger for the throw.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader Six year olds at the East Suburban Family YMCA Day Camp play a game of 'Nuke-Um' against the camp staff. Nena McNeal looks for the right opponent to get the out.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader Six year olds at the East suburban Family YMCA Day Camp play a game of 'Nuke-Um' against the camp counselors. Max Reese tosses the ball over the net.

Andrew Hearn doesn't have much time during summer break.

Hearn, 15, who will be a sophomore at Plum High School this fall, has a part-time job and soccer practice.

Hearn also makes time to volunteer at the day camp at the Presbyterian Church of Plum Creek on Center New Texas Road.

“I like the staff and the campers,” Hearn said. “One camper is like my little sister. Her brother is my best friend.”

Summer day camps for children are in full swing.

The day camp at Plum Creek continues through July 18.

SummerBlast at the Unity Community Church on Unity Center Road goes through July 25.

And the East Suburban Family YMCA on Route 286 plans to run its camp until Aug. 29 because classes in the Plum School District begin Sept. 4.

The day camp at Plum Creek offers activities for children who have completed first grade through sixth grade.

The faith-based program includes Bible study and stories, arts and crafts, team-building, mountain boarding, water games, climbing tower and a zip line.

Morgan Yingling, 9, of Plum, is attending her second consecutive day camp at Plum Creek.

“I like the zip line and mountain boarding,” Yingling said. “And I have made friends here.”

Joy Smith, president of the board of directors of the day camp at the Presbyterian Church of Plum Creek, said counselors keep the children moving.

“Some kids just sit a lot watching TV and playing video games,” Smith said. “At camp, we keep them physically active.”

Smith said 38 children attended the first week of camp.

Activity also is the key at the SummerBlast program at the Unity Community Church.

Sueellen Wiles, who started the program more than a decade ago, said 525 children attended the camp in the first week.

SummerBlast also is a faith-based camp and features indoor and outdoor activities including Bible lessons, music and skits, water slides, arts and crafts and Dek hockey.

“It gets them (children) away from the Xbox and outside,” Wiles said.

Junior-high volunteers set up and tear down equipment for the programs, Wiles said.

The older children also have their own week of activities from July 21-25.

Jonah Albert, 14, of Plum has been a camper since first grade and now volunteers.

“It is really fun to see your friends and blast each other with the Super Soaker (water gun),” Albert said.

The East Suburban Family YMCA summer day camp hosts about 150 to 200 children a week, according to Katie Sullivan, theme and activities coordinator.

Campers have more flexibility in the activities in which they participate this year, Sullivan said.

With the kids club, campers are given free choice time to select activities they want to do.

“It gives kids choices, said Sullivan of Penn Township. “They don't have to stay with their group.”

The campers engage in swimming, dodgeball, volleyball, softball, fishing, arts and crafts as well as Dek hockey.

Campers are dropped off on the hill overlooking the main building near the swimming pool and away from the construction work at the Y.

Riley Grove, 7, of Plum is spending her first summer at the camp.

“I thought that it was going to be fun, and I am making new friends!”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2367 or

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