SACIC aids YMCA/JCC kids’ program

By Mary Helen Darah

Recently, the YMCA/JCC of Greater Toledo, 6465 Sylvania Ave., created a new activity called the Outdoor Adventure Program. Daily, one of the YMCA childcare sites brings a group of its school-age kids to the Sylvania YMCA/JCC campus to participate in a day of camp experiences, with a range of activities including art, STEM, archery, fishing and canoeing.

The new Outdoor Adventure Program came to fruition with the help of the Sylvania Area Community Improvement Corporation (SACIC). Youth Sports and Day Camp director Josh Walter is thrilled that the SACIC assisted in bringing a new element of activities for youth to enjoy this summer. “One of the most exciting additions is the Low Ropes Challenge Course,” said Walter. “Low Ropes is designed to create an environment where the kids have to use critical thinking, social and emotional skills and teamwork to solve each challenge.”

It is not uncommon for there to be small arguments early in the process while the kids are working through each challenge. Camp counselors are trained to give encouragement and pieces of advice as needed. The goal; however, is for each group to work through the process together to find a solution and finish the challenge.

One of the course elements is called “Whale Watch.” A large platform with a log running down the middle underneath the platform, causes the platform to act as a seesaw. The challenge is to get every child from the group on the platform one at a time while keeping it balanced. A small shift in weight will cause the platform to become unbalanced. Once every child is on, with the platform balanced, camp counselors will then add extra challenges such as having each child sit down one at a time.

Alligator Crossing is another one of the elements. “There are three platforms spread out, each getting smaller in size. The group starts on the biggest platform and are tasked with getting to the next smaller platform,” explained Walter. “You cannot move to the next platform until the entire group is on. The challenge is that the only way to get across is for the kids to use a two-foot by four-foot board that is just a bit too short to reach the next destination. The group as well as the two-foot by four-foot board are not allowed to touch the ground. It’s truly exciting seeing the kids work together on a common goal.”

Walters and his team have seen how the challenges have made an impact on the participants. “We have seen participants increase their self-confidence, decision making skills, consensus building, creative problem solving, appreciating differences, and so much more through this new offering,” said Walter. “The YMCA is very thankful to the SACIC for its support of this skill building element that will positively impact the kids in our community.”

SACIC has been improving the community for 45 years with projects, economic development programs and multiple services that enhance the area community.

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