Blog Post

The Teen Leaders’ Club recently returned from the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly held in the Blue ridges Mountains of North Carolina. This annual assembly gives the Teen Leaders’ Club an opportunity to meet other youth from YMCA’s all over the country! Youth attending the assembly participate in a wide range of activities that improve leadership skills through the YMCA’s core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. The meaningful connections, fun activities, and beautiful mountain scenery are sure to make this experience unforgettable!

How can one participate in the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly? In order to participate in this assembly, the youth must be a part of the Teen Leaders’ Club at the YMCA. The Teen Leaders’ Club is an exciting group that assists the community and develops personal leadership skills. Leaders stay fit throughout the club season from their fitness meetings, and they will continually improve their leadership skills through volunteering and meetings focused around the core values of the YMCA. We believe that growth opportunities like this help our youth achieve more!

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School’s out for summer! Yay! But wait . . . kids are used to being constantly busy during the school year and we sometimes run out of ideas at home. We thought you might like some easy summer craft projects to keep on hand for those moments when kids need an activity and you need an idea. Our suggestion . . . go on an excursion with your kids to pick up all the items listed below you don’t already have in your craft box. Organize the items into each summer craft project and store them where you can easily pull them out at a moment’s notice.

small bottles with designs applied to them to look like stained glassStained Glass Vase  – Using some clear glass, tissue paper, and mod podge we are going to create our own “stained glass.”

  • two or three colors of tissue paper
  • mod podge gloss
  • clear glass container that will make a nice vase

1. Use scissors to cut pieces of tissue paper in whatever colors you choose. They can be geometric shapes, hearts, or even pieces torn by hand. Feel free to get creative!

2. Paint a little mod podge on the glass first then place the tissue on the glass, and then follow up with a thin coat of mod podge. That way, you’ll get a great stained glass effect. Follow all along the glass, cover completely, or make a pattern. Whatever look you are going for is perfect.

3. If you aren’t covering the entire glass with tissue paper, go ahead and spread a thin coat of mod podge all over the glass anyway—even in the empty spaces.

In the light the glass will catch the colors just right and you will have your own stained glass piece for your collection.

Learn more about stained glass.


home made sun catchers made from birthday party plates, and cut flowers and leavesNature Collage Suncatcher – gather flowers and foliage from a nature walk in your yard, a trip to the park, or from your vacation to the beach, mountains, or grandma’s house to create these beautiful eye-catching collages. Hang them in your child’s window as a reminder of the fun they had on their trip.

  • Left-over paper plates of any color
  • Clear contact paper
  • flowers, leaves, stems
  • String, fishing line, or ribbon to hang

1. Make the frame for the suncatcher by cutting out the center of the plate

2. Use the center piece you cut out in step 1. to help with the size of contact paper. Cut a square of contact paper just larger than the center of the plate. Trim down the corners to make sure they don’t stick out past the plate edges and then stick it to the back of the paper plate so the sticky side of the contact paper is up when the plate is set on a table.

3. Have your child place their nature items to the contact paper, inside the paper plate frame. They can use petals and bits of leaves instead of the whole flower if they want. The contact paper isn’t too sticky so pieces can be removed to adjust the design.

4. Poke a hole in the center of the plate edge so you can thread in the ribbon to hang the suncatcher

Idea found at Hands On As We Grow


Of course, the YMCA offers lots of activities for kids through the summer. We’re here to help you and your child have the best summer ever!

Summer Camp – choose from traditional day camp, sleep over camp for kids 8 and above, and specialty camps that meet kids where their interests lie.

Swimming – swimming with your kids is a fun way to spend quality time playing with your child. Summer is a good time to help your child gain skill and safety in the water with YMCA swim lessons or swim team.

Ask at your Y for more family programs offered during the summer.

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Building a summer camp around learning and youth development is an award in itself. However, the Victory Family YMCA recently had the honor of receiving an award for The Best Summer Camp by Coastal Virginia Magazine. This award not only highlights the passionate staff members of our summer camps, but it also highlights the careful planning of summer camp curriculums to enrich the children of surrounding communities.

We’ve hopped the gap of summer learning loss, provided a safe space for children while their parents are at work, and offered financial assistance to those who qualify. We don’t plan on stopping there! The YMCA continues to strive toward giving children the best summer ever by increasing the diversity of learning through STEM, encouraging a sense of purpose through our character values, and allowing children to make summer their own with a wide range of activities, and specialty camps.

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Haley fell in love with the YMCA her first day of summer camp. She enjoyed the interaction with her camp counselors, the games, swimming, crafts and field trips.

The following summer, Haley’s mom experienced some financial obstacles. She was not able to afford to keep Haley in camp, and needed a safe place for Haley to go while she was at work. A close friend told her that the Y offers financial assistance. It was a great relief when the YMCA was able to provide a partial scholarship that allowed Haley to attend camp.

A couple years later, the Y asked Haley to be a volunteer Junior Counselor. The opportunity thrilled her! She has thrived as a Junior Counselor, showing up every day to greet parents and children in the morning and assisting counselors with games and camp setup.

Haley was the youngest member of the YMCA’s Annual Campaign team. She went throughout her community sharing her Y story and receiving 44 monetary gifts, more than any other campaigner! The Y gave Haley a great place to go, and she also develop into a civic-minded young lady who has discovered she loves helping young children and giving back to her community.

Summer Camp at the Y is a great place for children to be involved, make friends, learn and have fun. Find out more about Summer Camp at your YMCA and register today!

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The YMCA Annual Meeting is a time of celebration for all of the passionate individuals that make our Y’s so impactful. And this year the teens of 7GI did what they do best…they improved the program. These 7th graders introduced us to a variety of their robotic friends, all created and developed within the 7GI: robotics program.

The 7GI robotics programs demonstrates the monumental accomplishments that can begin with a group of talented individuals, and a spark of inspiration. The Northern Neck Family YMCA proudly hosts these youth to learn industry standard robotic skills including: C++ programming, electrical circuit theory, OSEPP Block programming, and the necessary mathematical skills to understand robotics.

Their demonstration not only highlighted the intellectual accomplishments of the team, but also the sense of community offered by the safe learning environment. It was a delight to meet the robotic friends created by the 7GI team, and we can only imagine how proud the parents of the youth are, knowing their children are dedicating their time to the skills they love!

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The Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA currently incorporates STEM into our Youth Development programs such as School-Age, Summer Camp, Preschool, and more! Youth are engaged in year-round STEM activities that nurture their curiosity, inspire creativity, and teach them how to succeed. All participants in our Summer Camp programs are offered the opportunity to participate in our annual STEM Fair held at the Virginia Air and Space Center located in Hampton, VA.

Local community leaders gathered at the YMCA Annual Breakfast to help children afford the opportunity to attend Y Summer Camp. The Y has found great importance in avoiding the “summer slide” and giving children the opportunity to continue learning while school is out. The Y is taking a proactive approach to serving youth in our communities by offering STEM instruction and kids and parents alike are loving the opportunity.

May 4, 2018 By: Tara Bozick, Contact Reporter
Daily Press

Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin knows the importance of providing affordable opportunities for kids to get involved with science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM.

Boykin, the 20th and first woman president of the Newport News shipyard, told about 300 attendees of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA’s annual breakfast on Friday at the Newport News Marriott at City Center that it will take a community effort to level the playing field for low-income students who otherwise may not be exposed to STEM experiences. Kids attending the YMCA camps and programs now may be the future shipbuilders at the shipyard, she said.

“Who knows, maybe one of them will grow up to be a shipyard president one day,” Boykin said, later adding she participated in Y summer camps as a kid in St. Louis.

The YMCA set a goal of raising $30,000 from the breakfast to send kids from low-income households to summer camps, said new CEO Adam Klutts, who has been on the job five weeks. He said the YMCA integrates STEM throughout its various camps.

The YMCA also is partnering with the Virginia Air and Space Center in downtown Hampton to host more than 1,400 campers for its fifth annual STEM fair July 19, Klutts said.

Boykin, an advocate for getting more women and minorities into STEM fields, said students in the community will be introduced to STEM fields on the first floor of the under-construction Brooks Crossing office building downtown where shipyard workers will use the top three floors. The city is working with Old Dominion University for STEM programming in that effort.

As STEM-related jobs are expected to grow, it’s important that young people on the Peninsula see these fields as opportunities, said Frank Edgar Jr., past president of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA board. The YMCA also introduces STEM activities in its after-school programs and preschool.

Sandy Davoy, the chief financial officer at the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA, grew up on the Peninsula and remembers going to the Y on Fort Monroe as a kid. She earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech before getting a master’s degree in human services.

“We are leveling the playing field,” Davoy said

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May 4, 2018 By: Tara Bozick, Contact Reporter
Daily Press

Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin knows the importance of providing affordable opportunities for kids to get involved with science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM.

Boykin, the 20th and first woman president of the Newport News shipyard, told about 300 attendees of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA’s annual breakfast on Friday at the Newport News Marriott at City Center that it will take a community effort to level the playing field for low-income students who otherwise may not be exposed to STEM experiences. Kids attending the YMCA camps and programs now may be the future shipbuilders at the shipyard, she said.

“Who knows, maybe one of them will grow up to be a shipyard president one day,” Boykin said, later adding she participated in Y summer camps as a kid in St. Louis.

The YMCA set a goal of raising $30,000 from the breakfast to send kids from low-income households to summer camps, said new CEO Adam Klutts, who has been on the job five weeks. He said the YMCA integrates STEM throughout its various camps.

The YMCA also is partnering with the Virginia Air and Space Center in downtown Hampton to host more than 1,400 campers for its fifth annual STEM fair July 19, Klutts said.

Boykin, an advocate for getting more women and minorities into STEM fields, said students in the community will be introduced to STEM fields on the first floor of the under-construction Brooks Crossing office building downtown where shipyard workers will use the top three floors. The city is working with Old Dominion University for STEM programming in that effort.

As STEM-related jobs are expected to grow, it’s important that young people on the Peninsula see these fields as opportunities, said Frank Edgar Jr., past president of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA board. The YMCA also introduces STEM activities in its after-school programs and preschool.

Sandy Davoy, the chief financial officer at the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA, grew up on the Peninsula and remembers going to the Y on Fort Monroe as a kid. She earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech before getting a master’s degree in human services.

“We are leveling the playing field,” Davoy said.

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Why You Should Learn to Swim: It Could Save Your Life

By Ruben Castaneda, Staff Writer News and Word Report

Thousands in the U.S. drown accidentally each year.

YEARS BEFORE HE BECAME a U.S. Olympic swimmer, Cullen Jones almost drowned in front of his parents.

Young Cullen loved the water. He happily spent hours in the bathtub, “until I was a prune,” he recalls. At age 5, his parents took him to a water park in Pennsylvania. His father slid down a water slide in an inner tube, followed by a gleeful Cullen. His joy quickly turned to terror. “I flipped upside down,” Jones, now 33, says. “Underwater, I held onto the inner tube, trying to pull myself up, but I didn’t have the strength.” Cullen lost consciousness; a lifeguard rescued and helped resuscitate him.

The terrifying episode prompted Jones’ parents to take him to swimming lessons. Jones – who won a gold medal as part of a U.S. men’s freestyle relay team in the 2008 London Olympic Games – recounts his near-drowning as part of his efforts to encourage kids, adolescents, teenagers and adults to learn to swim on behalf of the USA Swimming Foundation’s “Make a Splash” program. He and other proponents of swimming and water safety point out that every year, about 3,500 people in the U.S. accidentally drown, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Swimming is “not only a recreational activity – it’s a skill that saves lives,” says Lindsay Mondick, senior manager-aquatics for the YMCA. Swimming programs not only teach people how to swim, but they also provide other safety training, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation lessons, demonstrations of how to use safety equipment, such as flotation devices, and tips on safer places to swim.

Outreach efforts by the USA Swimming Foundation (which works with hundreds of local pools), the YMCA and hundreds of local recreation programs are making a difference, says Debbie Hesse, executive director of USA Swimming Foundation. The foundation recently released a new study by the University of Memphis and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas measuring the swimming ability of kids ages 4 to 18 and parents and other caregivers in the U.S. Within this group, the study found that 64 percent of African-Americans, 45 percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of Caucasians have little or no swimming ability, which puts them at risk for drowning. Those numbers may not sound great, but they’re an improvement of 5 to 10 percent (depending on the group) over a 2010 survey released by the foundation. That survey found that 70 percent of African-Americans had little or no swimming ability.

A 2014 study by the CDC found that the rate of drowning in swimming pools for black kids and teens between ages 5 and 19 is more than five times that of white children. This lack of swimming ability has led to some high-profile tragedies: In August 2010, for example, a black teenager wading along the Red River shoreline near Shreveport, Louisiana, slipped off a ledge into deeper water. The teen didn’t know how to swim and yelled for help. Five siblings and cousins rushed into the water to save him – but none of them could swim, either. All six drowned.

Pre-civil rights era Jim Crow policies account for why relatively few African-Americans have learned how to swim, says Jeff Wiltse, a history professor at the University of Montana who wrote “The Black-White Swimming Disparity in America: A Deadly Legacy of Swimming Pool Discrimination,” published in 2014 in the Journal of Sport and Social Issues. He also wrote the book “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America.”

“The comparatively low swimming rates among black Americans today is, in large part, a legacy of past discrimination. Swimming became popularized among white Americans in the 1920s and 1930s at municipal swimming pools and in the 1950s and 1960s at suburban club pools,” Wiltse says. “Black Americans were largely denied access to these pools and the swim lessons that occurred at them. As a result, swimming never became integral to black Americans’ recreation and sports culture and was not passed down from generation to generation as commonly occurred with whites. In many cases, black parents passed along a fear of water to their children rather than the practice of swimming. In this way, the swimming disparity created by past discrimination persists to the present.”

Jones, one of the most prominent African-American swimmers in U.S. history, hopes he and other black swimmers can serve as role models for black youths. Jones wants blacks and everyone else to not only learn swimming for safety reasons, but to improve their health. Swimming is great exercise that’s easy on the joints, so it’s excellent for people with arthritis. It doesn’t take a toll on your feet or legs the way high-impact exercise can. Swimming can also help ward off diabetes, obesity and heart disease. “The ball is rolling, but there’s a lot more work to be done,” Jones says.

If you want to learn how to swim and get water safety training, or want your child to take swimming lessons, experts suggest these strategies:

Consider your options. Between programs offered by the USA Swimming Foundation, the YMCA, local parks and recreation centers and private swim schools, you should be able to find a regimen that suits your child or you in your area virtually everywhere in the country. At the foundation’s website, you can find more than 1,000 lesson providers.

Look for affordable lessons. This year, the YMCA will provide 27,000 scholarships for swimming lessons in underserved communities, Mondick says. The USA Swimming Foundation will provide $450,000 in grants this year to provide free or reduced-cost swimming lessons to children whose families otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them. And the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation has 31 swimming pools and another 30 splash pads (areas for water play that have no standing water, but could have ground nozzles) and small water parks, says Joe Goss, chief of the department’s aquatics program. In partnership with the American Red Cross, the department offers free swimming lessons in disadvantaged areas.

Don’t procrastinate. Many people have a “this will never happen to me” attitude about drowning, says Jim O’Connor, aquatics safety coordinator for Miami-Dade County’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces. “It only takes 20 to 60 seconds for someone to be totally submerged in water,” he says. “It can happen quickly in a backyard pool with an unsupervised child.”

The danger can be deceptive because “drowning doesn’t look like drowning,” says Lauren Bordages, director of Stop Drowning Now, an organization based in Tustin, California, that’s dedicated to saving lives through drowning prevention and water safety education. “Drowning isn’t a splashy dramatic scene from television,” she says. “Drowning is silent.”

Don’t let age stop you. Some swimming programs offer training to children as young as 3 months. At that age, it’s about getting kids acclimated to water. Conversely, no one is ever too old to learn how to swim, Jones says. His mom, who’s 66, is planning on taking swim lessons this year. “You can learn to swim at any age,” he says.

Have fun. “Swimming is one of the best ways to cool off in the summer heat and a fun way to stay active,” says Keith Anderson, director of the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation. “Take it from me; I swam as a youth, and it was one of my favorite sporting activities.”

Ruben Castaneda, Staff Writer, Health & Wellness reporter at U.S. News.

LEARN MORE about YMCA Swim Lessons now!

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Children and Parents Benefit from 5210

In our efforts to help youth and families live healthier lifestyles, the Y has implemented 5210 in all School-Age child care programs. 5210 is part of a national initiative that encourages children to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, have two hours or less of screen time, get at least one hour of exercise, and drink zero sugary drinks every day. From this, children have tried new foods and new activities they wouldn’t try before participating with the group. It has become interesting and fun for children to try new things and take leadership in introducing a healthier lifestyle to their family.

“My son is a picky eater, and my daughter likes television,” begins Dawn, describing her two kids who both attend the Y’s School-Age child care program. “As a mom, you want your kids to be both happy and healthy. It takes constant reminders to ‘eat your dinner’ and ‘turnoff the TV’; sometimes you have to pick your battles. I have to say; we have fewer battles lately! We are doing a much better job at planning family time to spend together outside, and even grocery shopping has changed for us. Both kids head to the produce section to grab the newest vegetable they’ve tried at the Y. The children have been taught to look at food labels. We take the time to read them before buying some items. As a family, we are now more conscientious about choosing the healthier option thanks to this program. We are all finding ways to be healthier together, and that gives us something new in common, so we are growing stronger as a family as well.

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NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA (April 1, 2018) – After a nationwide search, the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA Board of Directors today named Adam Klutts as the new chief executive officer of the leading nonprofit organization that operates 13 branch locations, one overnight camp, and 6 program centers across Isle of Wight County, the Peninsula, Middle Peninsula, and Northern Neck of Virginia. For nearly 122-years, the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA has offered programs and services that nurture the potential of every adult and child, promotes health and well-being, and encourages social responsibility.

“On behalf of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA Board of Directors, I am delighted for Adam to join us in our service and mission to our communities,” said Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA President of the Board Don Buckless. “Adam will have an immediate and positive impact on the Y and all we do to strengthen communities.”

Adam, together with his wife, Rasa, and 2-year-old daughter, Ella, comes to us from Tampa, Florida. Since 2012, he served as the Executive Vice President and COO of the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA with oversight of operations totaling $32.4 million annually. Some of his key results included increasing funds raised for the annual support campaign, developing partnerships, and growing the numbers of people benefiting from YMCA membership and programs.

With over 20 years experience with the YMCA, Adam served as the Senior Group Vice President of the South Tampa Family YMCA. As the Executive Director of the Peggy and Philip B. Crosby Wellness Center, he received the Central Florida YMCA Pinnacle Award given for growth in all areas (membership, revenue, financial performance, annual giving, programs and staff development). Earlier positions include Executive Director of the Riverfront Family YMCA in Akron, Associate Executive Director of the Arthur Jordan YMCA in Indianapolis, and Associate Executive Director of the Green Family YMCA in Akron.

“I am honored to be invited to serve at the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA alongside a team of cause-driven staff, volunteers, partners, community, and business leaders dedicated to providing supportive programs for children, families, and friends who rely on the Y every day,” said Klutts. “Together, we will provide transformational experiences to ensure everyone, regardless of age, income, or background has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive as they reach goals, establish caring relationships, and make a connection with the movement we call the YMCA.”

Adam earned his BA degree in Organizational Communications from the University of Akron Ohio. He begins as CEO on April 9th, 2018.

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