PALMYRA TWP. (Pike) - In Pike and Wayne counties, there are summer camps galore; but many are overnight for youth not from the area. The Wayne County YMCA Camp however, offers children of the region the chance to join together at the Wallenpaupack North Primary campus where games and activities occur throughout the day, but yet, hours are spent at Lake Wallenpaupack when weather permits and field trips aren’t scheduled.

The Director of the YMCA Camp and After School Program, Marianne O’Brien said the number of campers that attend daily varies, but ages range from 5-years-old to eighth graders, with most of the counselors being college students pursuing careers in education or a field that includes children.

To keep the imaginations going, there are themed weeks, with one that included Super Hero Week, where O’Brien herself was Captain Underpants from a children’s novel series.

The counselors, O’Brien said are wonderful with many who were campers themselves; Katelyn Talbot for instance was a camper for 10 years, but she is currently a sophomore at Kings College, studying psychology as she plans on becoming a children’s psychologist.

This summer is Talbot’s second as a counselor, and the experience has been great she said, because the time with the children has been “good practice” as she considers her future career. For Talbot, she especially enjoys the many activities the children do because they are “spirited” and interested in what they are doing.  

The hours at Lake Wallenpaupack are considered free time and the campers are there everyday, except when it is thundering because as O’Brien said, “rain is just a part of life” and the rain “helps things grow.” While at the lake, campers may go in the water and take part in “noodle warfare” when playing heroes and villains or play on the shore.  

When not at the lake, the campers are based at the Wallenpuapack North Primary School. O’Brien expressed her appreciation to Principal Tony Cavalloro and the custodian staff for being helpful when needed. 

If there is a rainy day, only then are electronic devices permitted as the campers may watch movies and do indoor activities.

There were a few trips this summer, that included visiting the YMCA in Carbondale that O’Brien said has a “very beautiful swimming pool” with slides as well as watching the Rail Riders in Scranton and visiting the Lackawanna State Park where the campers went on hikes.  

This summer was 7-year-old Kaitlin Foster’s third at the Lake Wallenpaupack YMCA Camp, which she is pleased about. Earlier in the season, during Super Hero Week, Foster said the theme was “really fun.” There are many aspects of camp that Foster enjoys, since there are many games and the counselors are not only nice, but funny too.

Brandon Michael spent his first summer at camp this year and soon, the 5-year-old will enter kindergarten in the district. The summer, Michael said was “good” as he enjoyed the many activities and chances to play tag, quick ball and other games. But, while swimming, a key to doing well he felt was being able to do the doggy paddle. 

A first time camper, 9-year-old Tyra Jones said the summer has been “really fun” as she liked visiting Lake Wallenpaupack everyday and spending time with her brother and friends.

During one visit to Palmyra Beach, 10-year-old Jason Thomas was busy making what he explained to be an “underwater sand castle.” Constructing such a castle took a lot of work, as he used a stick for a shovel while placing the sand where he wanted. On one particular day, Thomas noted how the sand was “really good” as it piled up well.  

A first year counselor, Joshua Hock said he loved his job because of the kids and being able to watch them “grow” as they started the summer timid but grew by “leaps and bounds.” Hock, who will be a freshman studying secondary education at Penn State, plans on becoming a high school social studies teacher. Working with the kids, was “great” as he was able to have an “impact” on the children.

Katie Gibbs, a certified special education teacher said she loves working with children because of the joy they find from the “simplest things,” and are still able to learn and grow as individuals.

For more information about the Wayne County YMCA visit http://www.ymcawayne.com/index.html.