Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin was at the Innisfil YMCA Friday morning to meet with campers and staff of YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka to see how a recent provincial grant has made a difference in the delivery of its day camps.
YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka was the recipient of a $109,900 Community Building Fund operating stream grant last fall. The funding allowed the YMCA to transform operations in order to meet public health requirements, adapt to new ways of operating, and meet the changing needs of program delivery.
The grant covered costs for personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, additional technology to complete contract tracing digitally, rent relief for
additional space required for social distancing in day camps, and additional recreation and sports equipment for campers to ensure children have the opportunity to improve physical literacy in a distanced manner.
“The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka is dedicated to providing safe, caring, and welcoming environments where children and youth can grow and thrive,” said Jill Tettmann, CEO of the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka. “The funds from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will greatly assist our YMCA in continuing to support the physical and mental health of children in an ever-changing environment.”
Tettmann added, “COVID 19 has presented many challenges, especially for children, and now more than ever it is important for them to access programs that
allow them to make meaningful connections in a safe, supportive space.”
The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka operates summer day camp programs across the region. Thanks to generous donors and supporters, financial assistance is available for families that cannot afford to pay full fees.
"The funding has helped us in renting the sites that we are operating out of," said Gord Dunlop, the YMCA's general manager, Camping and Outdoor Education.
He noted an uptick in campers this year after two years of pandemic restrictions.
"We saw a lot of registrations right when we opened," he said. "The last two years they were in dedicated cohorts, but this year they are able to mix and spread out."
The camps run across the region, with just over 5,000 kids aged six to 12 registered this summer.
"Some kids come for a week, and some come for all nine weeks and spend their whole summer with us," said Dunlop. "Thank you to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support, they really helped us out this year."
Khanjin was pleased to see the children enjoying camp and even joined them for some song and dance along with Ken Simpson from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Jill Tettmann the CEO of YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka.
"I, like yourself, grew up very much in a YMCA," she told the group.
When she immigrated to Canada as a refugee with her family from Moscow, Khanjin was always at the local Barrie YMCA where her grandmother was a volunteer.
"I am a product of great YMCA teamwork," she said. "Having our youth attend YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka day camps builds resilience, independence, self-confidence, healthy living, leadership, and so many transferable skills that prove beneficial long into adulthood."
She thanked the YMCA staff for all their efforts with the camp.
"You're really building the next generation," she said.
The Community Building Fund grant program is being delivered by OTF for the Government of Ontario.
To learn more about YMCA day camps, please visit their website at www.ymcaofsimcoemuskoka.ca.
Visit otf.ca to learn more.