Thursday, June 16, 2022

Summer has arrived, which means every day we welcome thousands of kids to our YMCAs across Tampa Bay for our ACA accredited summer camps. Our camps are not only a fun way for children to enjoy summer break, but also a safe environment, providing educational and socialization opportunities that prevent summer slide and allow children to form healthy habits that last a lifetime. This is important because research shows without access to out-of-school activities, kids fall behind academically and gain weight twice as fast.  We want to ensure all that all kids in our YMCA camps continue to learn and thrive during the summer months.

Our focus on a child’s physical, emotional and intellectual wellbeing, while offering a safe and positive environment, led us to pursue and achieve the prestigious ACA accreditation. This means the Tampa YMCA Camps underwent a thorough review of our operations by the American Camp Association (ACA). From staff qualifications and training to emergency management, we met the highest standards in the industry. The ACA's nationally recognized certification program focuses primarily on program quality, and the health and safety aspects of our camp's operation. Prior to our accreditation, the number of ACA accredited day camps in Florida was quite limited. Now, the Tampa Y makes up 18 percent of all the accredited day camps in our state.  We are very proud of our staff and the quality of camps that we will be able to deliver to our kids and families this year. 

In addition to camp, June also provides us the opportunity to reflect on our deep and intricate American history by celebrating Juneteenth Day, which commemorates the emancipation of enslaved black Americans. Juneteenth Day is celebrated on June 19th of every year to observe the day when thousands of African-Americans finally became aware of their freedom… more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The YMCA has a rich history in the African American community. In 1853, 13 years prior to the original Juneteenth Day, a freed slave by the name of Anthony Bowen established the very first YMCA for African Americans. This Y was located in Washington, D.C. and was just one of many brave steps taken by courageous African Americans throughout history to encourage greater access and inclusion for all. 

On another historical note, did you know that the very first Father’s Day celebration occurred at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington in 1910? Sonora Smart Dodd initiated this celebration to honor her father who was a Civil War veteran and who raised her and her five siblings as a single parent. This coming Sunday, our Y joins others across the country in celebrating Father’s Day and recognizing the influence fathers and adult male role models have in children’s lives. If you're looking for a good way to spend some quality time bonding with your dad this Father’s Day…how about spending the day at one of our amazing YMCA Centers? No matter how you celebrate, the Y thanks and salutes dads for all they do.

I hope your summer is off to a great start. 

With appreciation,

Matt Mitchell
President & CEO