A spoonful of camp helps the medicine go down

Summer Camp Essay Contest participants Lisa’s story-

For me, camp is like a large dose of medicine that must be taken at least once a year.  I don’t return year after year, session after session to Camp Jewell because I want to, I return because I have to.  Camp simply refreshes my mind.  At Jewell, I’m fortunate enough to have the opportunity to step back from my hectic home/school life, take a deep breath, and be able to clearly see who I want to be, what I want to do, and what is really important in life.   The people and activities at camp allow my true self to shine completely through to everyone that I encounter.  After the summer’s over, I can take all those crystal clear positive attitudes back home and by the time those thoughts begin to slip, camp is always right around the corner.

This is my 8th summer here at Camp Jewell and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.  After my first summer as a Bandit, my brother and I would sing songs and cheers constantly throughout the house until my mom actually learned the “5 little muffins” song.  But my brother stopped coming and I never understood why.  At camp not only was I always refreshing my mind, but also the people that I see every day.  Each year I met so many interesting people that were so unlike the ones in my small, single-minded town in Westchester, NY.  Here everyone is alive and clearly living life to the fullest each day!  I just see so much good every way that I look, and different cultures fusing together in a safe and fun environment.

Without camp, I would be completely a different person; I think I can pretty much say that every aspect of my life would change.  I wouldn’t have the friends that I have at home because I will still be trying to figure out who I am (not that I really know, but I have a pretty good idea).  I’d never have met any of the kids and counselors that currently go to camp with me and make my life that much better, my family wouldn’t mean as much to me because I would have never realized how truly lucky I am to have them until I left them for 2+ weeks or heard of stories of peers whose family isn’t as fortunate as mine.  And I definitely wouldn’t be nearly as happy.  In fact, I think each year would be a struggle because I just wouldn’t know how to handle all the stresses of growing up.

By Lisa G.

First Impressions

After a hectic first day in our after school program, and hearing very briefly about our blog, Miss Nicole took the time to share her first impressions with me yesterday:

The first day of school went very well.  While we had some small bumps in the road everyone got where they needed to be and behaved well.  Some were a little over stimulated by the excitement, running around inside and needing to be reminded of the rules, but they’re in first grade, it’s understandable.  Everyone was excited to be back at school and those who had been with the YMCA before were excited to be back with the program.  The children got along great, with everyone finding someone to play with and enjoying their time with us.  Meeting all of the children was a great experience and I am looking forward to getting to know each of them through the school year.  All together I think everyone had a great start.

~ Nicole Amenta, West Hartford/Tri-Town YMCA


When I took my job as the Wellness Director for the Indian Valley Family YMCA in January of 2011, one of my top priorities was to support the development of a “Running Club”. The picture in my mind of this group of Y members, included runners of all abilities, especially newbies. Last Thursday evening, my vision was accomplished as for the first time, the Indian Valley Family YMCA Running Club toed up to the START line of the Hartford Marathon Foundation Extreme Scramble. For several of the runners pictured, this was the first running race they have every participated in.
Everyone finished, and most of the participants are signed up for the next training/race program set to begin next week. Congratulations…it’s all uphill from here!

Deepening Relationships

Something short and sweet to share while this week comes to an end…

Viviana has developed a tradition in her Kundalini yoga class on Tues and Thurs mornings. She comes prepared with a hot thermos of tea, and little tea cups, so after class the participants can socialize before they start their days. This is a group of people who might have otherwise gone to class, and gone about their day, never getting to know the person next to them.

Viviana and her yogi’s deepen relationships after class with some herbal tea!

Respect at Highcrest School

Today was the first day of school in Wethersfield. I loved seeing friends, old and new, and all the smiling faces at our Highcrest after school site. It’s hard to pick a favorite moment of my day, but this one is at the top.

Before snack, we all sat together in a circle, and I explained that we would use the same 4 rules we used last year with Miss Sam (our AWESOME previous site director). I asked the returning friends if they remembered them. For a split second I was concerned that over the summer they had forgotten but their hands shot quickly into the air to say:

Respect others

Respect our school

Respect yourself

Have fun!

I was SO excited that they remembered- they have truly embraced these expectations- and now the next generation of Highcrest YMCA friends are ready for a great, respectful year. Thanks, Miss Sam, for setting the standard high last year!

~ Miss Kim, West Hartford/Tri-Town YMCA

What’s your motivation?

Can you think of a time when you were afraid?  I mean truly terrified and panicked- pulse racing, breaths quick and shallow, feeling desperate for whatever it is to end but time seems to have stopped- type of fear?  Perhaps it was an experience as a child, or maybe you have a fear of spiders, heights, clowns, flying, etc.  For many, swimming is a source of enjoyment but for others like Carol, it is a source of fear.  About a month ago, I had posted the story on the blog of how she had told me about this fear she’s had for the last 65 years and requested a series of private lessons to help her.  On the first day of our private lesson, Carol could barely breathe due to the fear she had.  When I secured the water belt (floatation device) around her and told her that we would be swimming across the pool all of the color drained from her face.  The panic was setting in but what prevailed  was her determination to conquer her fear.

While I walked in front of her, with my hands over hers, Carol gripped two barbells in her hands for support and began to pick her feet off of the bottom of the pool and kick.  She made it a couple of feet then stopped.  I could see that she was holding her breath and was uncomfortable but after a lot of stop and go, we made it to the other side of the pool.  Although she had panicked a couple of times, I was able to talk her through it and keep her moving back to the side we started on.  I encouraged her to try again and so she did.  I proceeded to ask her about her family and before she knew it, we had made it all the way across the pool a few more times without stopping.   By the end of our session she was slightly more comfortable and was even more motivated after seeing that she was successful at swimming across.  That small goal proved to be an extraordinary accomplishment and it was all Carol needed to keep going!

 So far we have met three times but in between she comes into the pool every day to practice and has accomplished a number of goals that she had set for herself.  During each of our sessions, she has become increasingly confident and determined.  Last week I broke the news to her that our Multi-Purpose (shallow) Pool would be closed this week for its annual cleaning so she opted to postpone our session. 

I came into work today and was scrubbing tile when I noticed that Carol was in the Lap Pool.  I walked over and was greeted with the biggest smile I have ever seen!  Carol was grinning from ear to ear!  She showed me what she was working on and I am thrilled to inform you that she can comforably float on her back for 30 seconds (though not her favorite thing to do), submerge herself completely while holding onto the side of the pool, and swim across the shallow pool without any support from a water belt, noodle, or barbells!

Carol has a scheduled trip to Aruba next month and promised to send me pictures of her swimming on her vacation.  She is such an inspiration to me, the lifeguards who encourage her, and the friends that she’s made here at the Y.  Through one goal at a time, Carol is overcoming her fears and there is nothing that will hold her back from any challenge that comes her way. It is through her own determination that she has accomplished so much and I am incredibly proud of her… she’s amazing! The tears in her eyes are no longer an expression of fear but of joy and pride in her accomplishments!

Helping kids grow.

Dear Ms. Pitt,

I am the mother of two girls who are currently in the Summer Exploration program in Glastonbury. I am writing to complement their counselor, Mallory. My daughters, Alex and Tea C., were enrolled for the first week of August and they enjoyed it so much that I enrolled them for this last week as well. They were very comfortable with Mallory and looked forward to seeing her each day and participating in the daily events.

On the first day of camp, July 30th, when I dropped my girls off and met Mallory I mentioned to her that they would be starting kindergarten in the Fall and would be placed in separate classes. They are twins and this will be something new for them, an idea they were not embracing. I was sure that all the parents had one thing or another to tell Mallory about their kid(s), but I thought it wouldn’t hurt.

Mallory has truly made an effort in both sessions to help Alex and Tea become comfortable being separated and she updates me each time I pick them up. Alex and Tea have grown increasingly accepting of the idea of being in different classes and I fully credit Mallory for her diligence, caring, and kindness.

I find that Mallory well represents the YMCA and the values/goals it aspires to. Mallory is a wonderful mentor and care giver, and I am so pleased to be writing this email to you.

Kind regards,

Andrea S.

Mother of Alexandra and Tea C.

Wilson Gray Serves Up The Toppings

Bravo, Bravo! Congrats to the Wilson Gray YMCA for having a fun and successful ice cream social. We stopped counting calories and picked up a bowl and spoon for an all you can eat ice cream sundae! We had so much fun creating sundaes using toppings such as gummy bears, candy pieces, whip cream, cookie crumbs and the list goes on. We had strong support from the community, from volunteers helping with serving ice cream and organizing the event, to attendees indulging in the flavorsome treats. It was truly a fun and tasty event. This is just one of the many amazing events that take place throughout the summer. Please stop by and join us.

Collaboration at Camp!

Over the past two weeks we’ve had the opportunity for many great collaborations at Camp Shining Stars! Last week for Camp Character, our AWESOME families helped us to arrange two fun visits, Officer Bridget talked to us about staying safe, and Mr. Chris brought his fire truck and to let us explore.

Finally, this week we collaborated not only with the West Hartford Camp, but also with local football teams who use our fields at the Saint Thomas Seminary where camp is located. I remember the first year they used “our” field: coaches drove their trucks through camp at 7am on Monday morning, not realizing that we had camp there! Through conversations over the years, we’ve cultivated a relationship that works for both of us. We compromised that they use the field closer to our camp that is a little smoother than the field they were assigned in order to keep their players safe, in exchange for them giving us a heads up before they arrive and not driving their trucks right through camp! We both benefit from the arrangement- the football players are able to practice safely, and we’re able to use the real football field they line when they’re not there!

Collaborating with others makes our camp unique, and keeps us on our toes!

~Miss Kim, Tri-Town YMCA Camp Shining Stars

Good Things Come in Small Classes

Looking for something different this fall? Don’t want to take large, impersonal group exercise classes? Well the Wilson Gray YMCA has a few options to help with your urge for something new, intimate and intense. We are introducing Small Group Personal Training to our membership this fall. Also known as S.G.P.T these classes offer a personal approach to small groups; classes size range from four to six people.

We will offer three different formats. Tim will teach a kettle bells class that uses ballistic exercises. These exercises combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training. It uses basic movements like the swing, snatch, and the clean and jerk, to engage the entire body at once. These functional movements mimics real world activities such as shoveling or farm work.

Another effective way to burn fat is using interval training; so Jordan will instruct a Cardio Interval Training class. It will include workouts that alternate high-intensity levels with lower-intensity effort. This formula keeps your body burning calories long after you’ve stopped working out. Intervals mimics sports—start—and stop motions with periods of sprinting or close-to-sprinting speeds followed by a light jog.

Lastly, Dwight will offer a small group version of his popular H.I.I.T. class. It’s a cardiovascular based class that concentrates the intensity so that you burn through the fat in a short amount time. Sessions vary from 9–20 minutes and then repeat.

This Fall come in and check out S.G.P.T. we would love to have you!!!