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Wednesday, April 11,2012

No time to be homesick

Camps offer a variety of summer activities

by Alyssa Firth
With the rise in temperatures comes the rise in children being sent off to Michigan’s numerous summer camps. Parents in almost any area of the state have options to send their child or children for one day, one week or several weeks. Although times have changed, many of yesteryear’s traditions still remain. 

Camp Copneconic in Fenton is one of 15 Michigan YMCA Camps, all located in the lower peninsula. Shelly Hilton, an associate executive director for Copneconic, said while they all have that YMCA connection, they operate independently of each other. 

“We´re all governed by the YMCA of the USA, so we´re all connected through that, but we´re a complete separate association from say, the Lansing association (which operates the Mystic Lake camp). We´re very different,” Hilton said. 

Depending on what parents are looking for, each camp — including others outside of the Michigan YMCA Camps — has something different to offer. Children from age 3 to those entering 12th grade are welcome at Camp Copneconic. However different or similar each camp is, Hilton said a camp experience provides the opportunity for kids to boost their self-esteem and a chance to try something new, especially if it is their first time away from home. 

“They gain some independence, a sense of responsibility for themselves and their belongings,” Hilton said. 

Hilton has been at Camp Copneconic for almost 11 years, and said the number of campers has remained consistent from year to year. The camp offers day camps, one-week camps and two-week camps. Hilton said the numbers for two-week campers are growing. 

“We feel like there´s still a lot of kids who are interested in having a summer camp experience, and we change things up every week,” she said. “We still do a mix of those traditional camp activities that kids back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but then we´ve also added some of the newer camp-type things.”

High ropes courses, zip lines and aqua toys are among the more modern activities that Camp Copneconic provides, but traditional activities include arts and crafts, archery and nightly campfires. 

For the concerned parent, a summer camp preview is provided where parents can ask questions, meet the staff and see where their child will be staying. 

“They see that their kids are going to be well cared for when they come to camp,” Hilton said. 

According to Hilton, some of the main concerns that parents have include how their children be supervised or what will happen if their child gets sick. She said the staff is always prepared for any child who is homesick or who is unsure about staying away from home. Campers are always grouped together with kids their own age, and Hilton said that many of them make friends during that first day at camp. 

“We just tell them they´re going to have so much fun that they won´t have time to even be homesick, because they just go, go, go every day,” she said. 

Like other camps in the state, Camp Copneconic runs year-round rather than just operating during the summer. For more information on Michigan YMCA camps, visit www.michiganymcacamps.org.

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