GIBSONTON – Kids ages 5 to 15 will be among the first South Shore residents to try out the new YMCA on Old Big Bend Road during the facility’s inaugural summer camp.
And a variety of sports, crafts and water activities are in store for those first campers at the Family Y at Big Bend Road, 9650 Old Big Bend Road, Gibsonton, said Lalita Llerena, Tampa YMCA communications director.
Llerena said the Y’s first summer camp offerings are designed to keep youngsters active during the dog days of summer, help children build new friendships and develop a sense of accomplishment.
“With school out during the summer, many kids don’t get enough physical activity or learning, a critical gap the Y is addressing,” Llerena said. “In our summer camp programs, kids are in a safe environment with nurturing adults where they feel welcome, develop character and explore new talents and interests. We want to ensure kids in our camp program go home with so much excitement for all they’ve accomplished and enjoyed that they can’t wait to come back the next day.”
Construction crews are putting finishing touches on the first phase of the new Y facility, including five grassy multipurpose athletic fields, a covered basketball court, playground, picnic pavilion, a one-mile fitness trail and parking lot.
With those facilities in place, the Y plans to offer both full- and half-day camp programs, including a traditional day camp for kids ages 5 to 12 and a Leaders in Training Camp for teens ages 13 to 15.
Half-day camp programs for basketball, soccer, volleyball, crafts, lacrosse and utimate sports will kick off in June and July.
“These camps offer a mix of fun and learning activities aimed at improving kids’ well-being by focusing on three areas proven to impact (their) development: friendship, accomplishment and belonging,” Llerena said.
Llerena expects the camps to fill fast and is encouraging parents to register early at www.tampaymca.org.
In addition to taking summer camp registrations, the Big Bend Y is accepting applications for summer camp counselors. Anyone interested can apply online at www.tampaymca.org and click on YMCA careers or call Dan Ribas at (813) 436-5890.
In June, the Big Bend Y also will form its first basketball league to be followed by other sports leagues this fall. Registration information will be available soon.
The Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA received the go-ahead and a $2 million start-up fund from the Hillsborough County Commission in August 2013 to construct its newest YMCA on 36 acres next to the county’s Vance Vogel Park. This is the first new Y to be built in the county in the past 12 years.
The facility will be constructed in three phases with the first phase nearly complete.
Cindy Sofarelli, senior group vice president for the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA, said the organization is currently raising funds for the second phase, which will include an aquatics center. The third phase, to be completed within five years, will consist of a main building and additional parking. The total estimated cost is $8.5 million.
A grand opening and dedication ceremony for the new Y will most likely take place in May.
Freelance writer D’Ann Lawrence White can be reached at [email protected]