Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Keeping Your Resolution

You are probably toying with the idea of making some sort of a beneficial change to your behavior at the beginning of 2011 under the pretext of a "New Year's Resolution". Or perhaps you are in that group that has had such a tough time keeping your past resolutions that you have "given up giving up".
In order to help you keep your resolution I would like to offer the following tips (please keep in mind that in preparation for this post I read dozens of articles on the subject and have condensed the information to this short, actionable list.)
  1. Are you ready?- If you are in denial or maybe just ambivalent about your need to change or you do not fully accept the importance of the change, then you will not succeed. You need to identify the barriers to change and visualizes the "you with the change".
  2. Preparation- Write down your goals, make sure that they are realistic. Then break the goals into actionable steps.
  3. Take Action- Now you are ready to start. Be sure that your energy is used toward the successful completion of your goal. Form a social support network by telling others what your goals is and what your strategy is to reach it. Ask them for support.
  4. Reward Success- Don't wait until you have reached your final goal to celebrate. Be sure to enjoy the minor victories as well. If you made it to the Y 3 times in a week, celebrate!
  5. Reduce Other Stresses- Changing a behavior creates stress, and if you are trying to make that change in an already stressful environment, then you are going to have a reduced ability to make good decisions.
  6. Prepare for Setbacks- You are going to hit some snags and have some relapses. That is a natural part of the process so don't get too down on yourself. Identify the triggers and develop a strategy to avoid them in the future.
  7. Enjoy the NEW YOU- Enjoy the change. Tell folks about it, brag, celebrate, do whatever it takes to make the change a real long lasting part of your life.
I hope you have a safe and healthy New Year. And if your resolution involves getting healthier or increasing your energy, then come and see us at the Y and let us be your support system.

Here are a few of the articles that I used in writing this post:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays from the Pools!

The Northern Middlesex Y's Aquatics Staff would like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season! Have fun, stay safe, be merry!

Remember: the gift of swimming lessons is a gift that lasts a lifetime!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Give the Gift of Health

When my son was born 4 years ago, my mother made a commitment to be around for as long as possible so that she could enjoy spending time with her Grandson. I helped her get a membership to the YMCA (she lives in New Britain) and since then she has been on a regular schedule of exercise and healthy eating (she is also trying to quit smoking). It's been four years and she has more energy and stamina than ever.
Regular exercise is important for all individuals, but it is critically important for Older Adults. Weight loss and increased energy are obvious but a study by Harvard linked exercise to reduced stress and anxiety, and suggested that it may ward of mental deterioration as well. And most importantly regular exercise means that seniors can continue to do regular daily tasks keeping them mobile and independent.
The Middlesex YMCA is making a very special offer for 3 month and 6 month memberships for seniors so that this Holiday season you can invest in a gift that will truly impact their lives. And we make it easy for them to get started with a series of appointments with one of our fitness professionals.
So this Christmas tell your parents that you want them to be healthy, happy and around for a long time.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Name: Patrick Connelly

Title: Senior Director of Membership and Programs

Patrick is a twenty year veteran of the YMCA. He began his Y career at the Hartford YMCA; gained valuable experience at the Southington YMCA and then came to the Middlesex YMCA in 2000 to serve as the Ingersoll Outdoor Center Director. Patrick is a YMCA of the USA Faculty Member for International Initiatives and Working with the World. In addition, he has authored the Character Development section of the YMCA Day Camp Director Manual and presented at several regional and national conferences. Patrick lives in Portland with his wife Beth and their two adorable children Griffin age 4 and Tessa Jane age 2. In his free time Patrick enjoys exploring nature with his children hiking, digging in the dirt and having fun outside!

Fun Fact: Patrick is an avid reader who enjoys historical biographies.

What is your role at the YMCA?

“My role is to provide energy and enthusiasm to our YMCA, to mentor and coach other staff, and to help make and keep members happy. I get to create flyers, posters and other promotional materials.”

What it the most rewarding part of your job?

“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing a member that I helped enroll become a regular user and make progress toward reaching their health goals.”

How does it impact the community?

“The “essential genius” of the YMCA is that it responds to the needs of the members of the community it serves. Whether families need support with before and after school care, or a young man needs a place to stay for a while, or an older adult needs to get some exercise, we are there to help.’

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

YMCA Family Events

The annual YMCA Kids’ Korner Halloween Carnival took place on Thursday, October 28th in both the YMCA gymnasium and family center. This event was a great success with over 300 ghosts, ghouls and fairy princesses in attendance. Each Kids’ Korner site created a Halloween booth which offered a variety of different activities. One specific booth featured a catapult which launched objects at three different plastic pumpkins. This booth had a line out of the gym and around the corner throughout the entire event. The YMCA Family Center featured the Haunted Hallway that brought both screams and laughter to the many that dared to walk through. It was said by many that this particular Haunted Hallway was the scariest one to date. Scary sounds played throughout the hallway as people of all ages were spooked by YMCA staff members.

On November 18th a crowd of 30 families joined us for Family BINGO. The game of fun and chance was called by YMCA staff members Tony Sharillo, Melanie Carfora, and Kevin Cassesse. Excitement was in the air as families dabbed away at their BINGO cards in hopes of winning a prize. It was even rumored that screams of “BINGO” could be heard in the lobby from all the fun that was occurring in the Hazen Room. It was a great evening filled with family fun for all who attended. Thank you to all the families who brought canned food items to donate to the Amazing Grace Food Pantry.

Spend some time with your family at the YMCA. Join us on Thursday, December 9th from 6:30-8:00 pm for Santa’s Workshop at the YMCA. Friends and family will gather as we wrap gifts to be donated to families in need. The YMCA will provide wrapping materials, music, snacks and good cheer, you provide a children’s gift to wrap. A special guest may even make an appearance! Free for YMCA members, guest of members are $5 per person with a $10 family max.

Check out our website at for upcoming family events at the Middlesex YMCA.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tony Sharillo, Camp Ingersoll and Youth Programs Director.

Tony began his Y career fifteen years ago at the Middlesex YMCA took a short break to work at the Waterbury YMCA and returned to take on his current position last fall. Tony graduated from the University of CT with a degree in Child Psychology, he holds his Director Certification from the YMCA of the USA and serves as the current Chair of the Y CT Program and Membership Network. Tony lives in Middletown with his wife Erika and sons Michael 2 ½ and Lucas 6 months. He is a Red Sox fan and athlete who enjoys playing a variety of sports.

Fun Fact: Tony met his wife when they both worked as camp counselors at Camp Ingersoll!

What is your role at the YMCA?

“Here at the Middlesex YMCA not only am I the Ambassador of Fun, I have the great honor of running YMCA Camp Ingersoll as well as coordinating some of the new youth sport and teen programs run at camp and here at the YMCA.”

What it the most rewarding part of your job?

“There are so many aspects of my job that I find very rewarding that it’s hard to say which one is the most rewarding. I love the camp staff and truly enjoy working with such enthusiastic and creative people. I love working with all the campers during the summer and getting to see all the smiles our great camp staff create everyday. I love working outdoors and building things from scratch. Most of all I love that my job is basically to make the most of everyday, whether it’s during the summer or working with a teambuilding group!”

What makes the Y a special place?

“I believe it’s the staff and volunteers and their commitment to each other and the community that make the YMCA so special. Everyone works hard to develop and facilitate quality programs and events.”

Friday, November 12, 2010


Melanie Carfora, YMCA School Age Director.

Melanie has worked for the Middlesex YMCA for eleven years, lives in Middletown with her husband Dave and four year old daughter Jenna. Melanie holds a bachelors degree in social work from Saint Joseph College she enjoys reading, sports, and being funny!

Fun Fact: Melanie was a camper at Camp Ingersoll!

Please share with us your professional background:

I started working as an assistant group leader in our after school programs while I was in high school. I eventually became a head teacher at Farm Hill Kids’ Korner, a position I held for about 5 years. Once I graduated from college, I worked as a program coordinator and then became the school age director in 2006. I also began working at Camp Ingersoll in 2000 and have held many different positions including unit director of horseback, specialty camp counselor and now senior staff.

What is your role at the Middlesex YMCA?

“I am the director for our Kids’ Korner before and after school department at the YMCA. I am the program administrator responsible for the oversight of our eleven licensed school age programs. I oversee the hiring and training of a staff team of 65 people, create and implement curriculum for our programs, monitor compliance with local and state licensing regulations, and create and foster relationships with our many community partners.”

What do you find most rewarding about your work at the YMCA?

“The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that we are running quality before and after school programs that are an asset to working parents. I also find it rewarding when I see our staff sharing their talents and time with the children in our programs and serving as positive role models in our community.”

How does the YMCA impact the community?

The Y is a special place because we are making a real difference to the families and individuals we serve. We provide programs that promote wellness of the whole individual; mind, body and spirit. I chose the Y because our staff are really committed to our mission and care about wellness in our community.”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The YMCA is a community of caring people and that attitude begins with the dedicated staff members who put that principal to work each day. Over the next few weeks I will be posting different interviews with various staff members. I hope you enjoy getting to know these talented people!

Today I introduce to you Bob Spencer the Y Director of Advancement / Assistant to the President. Bob has worked at the Y for 4 ½ years. Prior to the Y Bob had a long career as a social worker and non-profit administrator. Bob and his wife Lindsay live in Portland and have two grown children Sam and Libby. They will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary next year and love to travel, hike, explore the outdoors, spend time with good friends and giving back such as their work with Habitat for Humanity.

What is your role at the Middlesex YMCA?

Charitable contributions help us to advance our mission and make all of our programs/services available to those who want/need them. Raising charitable contributions requires us to cultivate donors, keep donors engaged, informed and appreciated. New donor relationships comes from a more actively engaged membership/community and from a growing number of volunteers willing to tell the Y story. Board members providing active involvement in the financial development needs of the Y is an instrumental piece of the advancement process. My job is to bring these pieces together.

What it the most rewarding part of your job?

Helping donors who want to make a difference in the lives of children and families find a way to do that.

What makes the Y a special place? How does it impact the community?

I think our Y is one of the most diverse places in this community. There are a variety of people from multiple economic, racial and age groups that pass through our doors and they all intermingle here at the Y. We work hard to keep our doors open to any/all who want and need our services. Our men’s residence takes me back to early experiences that first drew me to social work. Our work with kids gives me a lift that I can’t imagine getting any place else. I love being part of a larger team who live out the values of honesty, caring, respect and responsibility.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Medicare Made Clear

Determining which insurance coverage is best for you can be confusing, and its even more so when you add in all of the Medicare options.

To help you sort through all of the information and get answers to your questions, the Middelsex YMCA is proud to host two FREE information sessions called "Medicare Made Clear".

Choose the one session that is most convenient for you. And please invite a friend.

Session A- Wednesday, November 10th 11:00 am in the Hazen Room of the YMCA

Session B- Friday, November 12th 9:30 am in the Hazen Room of the YMCA

Each session will be approx 1 hour and we will provide coffee.

To reserve your seat please stop by the Front Desk of the YMCA or contact Helen at (860) 343-6230 or

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Kids' Korner Receives Two Important Grants

Kids’ Korner is much more than a child care program. The eleven before and after school programs located in public elementary schools in Middletown, Portland, and Cromwell serve over 600 children. Children who attend our programs are surrounded by caring adults who serve as positive role models; enjoy healthy snacks, participate in daily CATCH fitness games and activities, receive help with homework and engage in a wide variety of activities and clubs that build both social and academic skills. The YMCA is intentional about making Kids’ Korner assessable to all families regardless of their economic situation. Our programs strive to engage all children in activities that promote personal interest and skills that will help children grow into healthy adults. Two community partners have recently provided the YMCA with grants that will support these objectives.

Liberty Bank Foundation

The Liberty Bank Foundation presented the YMCA Kids’ Korner with a $5,000 grant to support our Kidzlit Program. Kidzlit is an afterschool literacy program for K-2nd grade students. KidzLit instructors meet once a week with children introducing a variety of picture books that touch on social skill themes such as friendships, honesty, cultural competency and others. Children read the book with the facilitator, talk about the character, plot, illustrations and theme while also recognizing cool vocabulary words. Upon completion of the story children participate in an extended learning activity such as crafts, cooking, dramatic arts etc. The goal of the Kidzlit program is to increase young children’s joy of reading.

JCPenney Foundation

As a leading corporate advocate for the afterschool issue, JCPenney works with afterschool organizations to increase the accessibility and affordability of afterschool programs across the country. The Middlesex YMCA is one of 287 Y’s from across the United States to receive a grant this school year. The $5,000 grant allows the YMCA to provide financial assistance to underserved populations that otherwise could not afford to participate.

The YMCA is exceptionally grateful for the Liberty Bank Foundation and JCPenney Foundation support and commitment to the work that we do for children and families in this community.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Y Hikers Closing Our First Season

Our Y Hikers group is scheduled to go into hibernation on Thursday, October 21st, but not before we get in one more blue blazed adventure. This Wednesday will be our 14th outing and we will be hitting the Shenipsit trailhead in Cobalt. We expect to see some great foliage with stunning vistas of the CT River and Great Hill Pond in Portland.

Our hiking adventures this season have been multiple and have we ever been blessed by the weather goddess! We had one total downpour when we all got drenched but all the rest were truly beautiful, yes, quite warm some times, but truly beautiful CT weather. We have found interesting things on the ground and in the sky. Most of the hikes have been within 20 minutes drive time of the Y and there is some truly gorgeous country right here in our backyard. We give great thanks to the CT Forest and Park Association and their volunteers who give so much time in trail marking and maintenance. The Blue Blaze trail system is a great asset!

Our hikes have averaged between 2 and 4 miles each week and so I figure we’ve covered nearly 1.5 marathons in distance and the total elevation change we’ve covered must be close to half a mile of up and down. We have had a weekly group of between 4 and 8 hiking with us and have successfully retrieved a total of 7 lost hikers along the way, not too shabby for a bunch of amateurs.

The best part of it all has been the great fellowship we have experienced. Good friendships have been established and when you peel away all of the meaningless stuff that can clutter up life, that’s one very precious discovery that can last a lifetime. With the regular hiking season coming to a close it’s a great time to get a good deal on a pair of boots for next spring. It’s never too early to start making plans. Come join us in April.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Preventing Summer Slide

Summer for children from middle class and wealthy families is a time for fun, relaxation, and learning. Children growing up in a family with means experience a summer full of opportunities to engage in creative outlets such as camp, family vacations, and visits to museums and libraries that develop their mind, body, and spirit allowing them to enter school in the fall ready to take on new academic challenges. Children from low income families, however, are more likely to spend the summer languishing in environments that do not stimulate learning, promote creativity nor enrich the mind body or spirit of a child. These children in return experience summer slide, a loss of academic progress made during the previous school year that sets them apart from their wealthier peers.

A study by researchers at John Hopkins University, cited in a recent Time article titled The Case Against Summer Vacation, reported that while students made similar progress during the school year regardless of economic barriers, by the end of grammar school low-income students had fallen nearly three grade levels behind their better-off peers. This well documented achievement gap is the result of multiple years of academic loss attributed to summer slide.

This summer the YMCA, in collaboration with the Middletown Board of Education, provided a five week summer enrichment and academic program to children entering first grade primarily attending Macdonough School in Middletown. Funded by grants from the Liberty Bank Foundation, People’s United Community Foundation and the Middlesex Community Foundation, this program served sixteen children from low income families. Using classroom space donated by South Congregational Church, certified teachers provided small group literacy support to children for an hour each day. YMCA staff provided enrichment and recreation activities employing a different learning theme each week that included: Adventures in Food and Fitness, Lights Camera and Action and Crafting Through the Continents. Students also went on field trips, played outdoors, went swimming and participated in the CRT Summer Lunch Program that provided both a healthy breakfast and lunch each day.

Data is currently being collected to determine if through engagement in a full day summer program students avoided the traditional summer slide and/or produced academic gains. We do know that the children who attended were eager to participate in all components of the program and the teaching staff were very pleased with the enthusiasm and personal academic and social progress that each child exhibited at the conclusion of the five week program. Summer slide is a serious academic concern that must be addressed if we are going to bridge the well known learning gap within our society. The YMCA, as a result of strong community partnerships, has provided sixteen children with an opportunity to close the gap and be successful first graders.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

YMCA Staff Story

It is common for us as YMCA staff to hear stories from our members about what the YMCA means to them. This past week I received a card from an employee who recently completed her work experience in our Kids' Korner after school program. Christa Vardaro is a 2010 graduate of Wesleyan University and has worked as a group leader in our after school programs for the past four years. She reflected on her experience with the YMCA by sharing the following thoughts:

"The last four years at Kids' Korner have been more than I could have ever expected. I have made lasting friendships with staff and have had the opportunity to get close with and see the kids dramatically change over the years. I truly believe that Kids' Korner is the perfect after school program; providing kids the perfect balance of structure and freedom by allowing them to participate in a safe and fun community. Working for the YMCA has really made me realize the importance of after school education for children and has influenced my current job hunt, post graduation. I just wanted to thank everyone at the YMCA for creating such a wonderful program for kids and for allowing me to be a part of it. I have had a blast and have learned a lot from my experience."

The Middlesex YMCA means so much to so many people. YMCA staff are fortunate to have the opportunity to provide our members with programs that build spirit, mind and body. As we spread our message and deliver our programs we meet many people and create meaningful partnerships. Our interactions and experiences with our members and programs affect us in ways we sometimes do not expect and can influence our choices in life. Thank you Christa for sharing your story and experiences.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Crayons for Cancer

Caring and compassion are core values at the Middlesex YMCA. This week, Macdonough School Kids' Korner had the opportunity to exemplify these traits by supporting "Crayons for Cancer." (

"Crayons for Cancer" seeks to ease the financial burdens of families whose children currently suffering from cancer by selling cute-shaped crayons. They take old crayon donations to melt down and create fun shape crayons that are sold or used to replenish hospital Treasure Chests.

At Kids' Korner, we noticed that the box of crayons on our art cart had been getting larger and larger and that many of those crayons were broken ones. Around the same time, we learned about "Crayons for Cancer 2nd Annual Benefit Concert" (June 12th, 2010) and decided it would be a perfect was to get involved.

The children started Tuesday afternoon by sorting out our "good" crayons from the "donation" crayons. They could not believe how many broken pieces were inside our crayon box. After they peeled away the paper from all the donation crayons, they were shocked to find that there were over 1,000 broken crayons to donate to this great cause.

The donation will be brought to to "Buried Under Comics" who will deliver our donation to the Crayons for Cancer Benefit Concert on June 12th in Manchester, CT from 11-3 pm.

To read about other ways Macdonough School Kids' Korner has supported families with cancer this school year, please visit the Macdonough School Blog at

Thursday, May 27, 2010

June 2nd hike preview!

Last year I had the incredible opportunity to hike in various parts of the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. This is truly an awe inspiring place where amazing views hit you in the face at every other turn of the path. I’d say this was one of those places where the hiking bug really took hold and became a more regular part of my life. Being outdoors taking in the sights and smells of all nature has to offer has added a richness to my life that I hope will continue for many years to come. Sharing the experience of exploration and discovery with others is an added bonus. The shared sense of WOW! is a way of joining together that doesn’t happen every day.

Our 1st and 3rd Wednesday hikes here at the Y have allowed that shared WOW! to continue. We have explored places together that none of us have been to before and we’ve seen sights that are really quite inspiring. My feelings for conservation and preservation have been enhanced, my sense of joy for the simple/natural has been expanded.

Our hike on Wednesday, June 2nd promises to be a continuation of this. We’ll head out on the Mattabesett Trail as it wonders past Millers Pond. When I did a preview hike out here last weekend I was amazed that in sections I was reminded of a hike around Jenny Lake in the Tetons.

If you like to be outdoors and active, if you like the company of other who are similarly inclined, if you want to discover some great spaces right here in our backyard, please join us. We leave the Y parking lot at 4 p.m. and typically return between 6:30 and 7:00. A heavy downpour and/or lightning strikes will keep us away but a little rain won’t stop us. Come on down!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Saying "Thank You" is Rewarding

Last night was a perfect night for baseball, so I took my two children to see a New Britain Rock Cats game. Before I purchased the tickets I noticed that there were a few inflatable activities set up. It turns out it was Principal Financial Family Fun night and the activities were free. So, we spent an hour or so jumping in the sport themed bounce house and taking our picture with Rocky the mascot (who looks surprisingly like a 6'4" mouse). It was great.

Then it was time to head into the stadium and watch (what was left of) the game. As we left the activity area I noticed a pop up tent with a few people that clearly worked for Principal Financial. They were frantically looking at their cell phones (I'm sure keeping a close eye on the market for their customers) and all of the families that were coming and going through the gate to the activity area were just walking past and ignoring them. I decided to approach the table and interrupt them. I then thanked them for the great event and told them how much I appreciated their efforts. After a brief conversation one of the guys handed me two tickets to the game and told me that they included access to the Webster Terrace where we could eat and drink for free.

The kids only made it through 7 innings but the entire adventure did not cost me any money. As we drove home with our shirts and faces stained with mustard and watermelon and I realized that I had learned an important lesson. Saying thank you and expressing your appreciation makes you feel good and it makes that person that you are thanking feel good, too. And sometimes you are even rewarded.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

YMCA Camp Ingersoll's 2010 Senior Staff

Check out the lineup of Senior Staff for the 2010 season at YMCA Camp Ingersoll.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Appreciating Your Mom; a Lesson for Children

Before I had children of my own I never really appreciated Mother's Day as a Holiday. Don't get me wrong, I have always loved and appreciated my mother, but in retrospect I never gave Mother's Day the attention it deserved. Now that I have 2 children I want them to recognize the opportunity to celebrate their wonderful mother. Initially my plan was to make a big deal for my wife and let them see and share in it, but I have a new plan that I think is even better:

I'm going to make a big deal for MY mother.

Like all behaviors that you want your children to demonstrate, it is necessary to role model them. By making a special day for my mother, they will see that love and appreciation are not just for young mothers and children but rather that our devotion and understanding of the work and sacrifices that our mothers made grows stronger with each passing year.
I am thankful to my mother for so many things and I have often failed to find ways to communicate that to her. I hope that my children will not repeat my carelessness.

Mother's Day is this Sunday, May 9th. I encourage you to do something special for your mom and in so doing , it will be something significant for your children.

Have any good ideas?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Take a Hike with the Y.

Our first hike and it had to be in the 90’s, but fearlessly we set out from the Y parking lot at 4:05 (we thought a 5 minute window was sufficient) and unloaded at Wadsworth Falls State Park by 4:20. All had plenty of water and good solid boots and came with a spirit of adventure open to discover a “new” place.

What an amazing place it is with trails running every which way through beautiful woods, along impressive running brooks, past cascading falls both large and small. Being outdoors (no matter what the heat) is always a treat and the ability to explore different places and share time with others who are similarly inclined is a bonus.

Our next hike (4/21) will provide an opportunity to explore the trails that run through our YMCA Camp Ingersoll in Portland. This too is an amazing
place with plenty of ups and downs and great sites to see.

In May (5/5 and 5/19) we will be exploring the Mattabesett Trail that runs both north and south off the intersection of Routes 66 and 147. In June (6/2 and 6/16) we plan to explore some of the many hiking opportunities available at Hurd State Park in East Hampton. July, August and September hike plans are still in the forming stage so if you have somewhere you would like to go let us know (

We depart from the Y parking lot at 4 p.m. on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month and would love to have you join us. Y Hike? Because we can!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

YMCA Outdoor Activities

With the beautiful Spring weather, many people start to think about expanding their exercise routine to include outdoor activities. Sometimes it's difficult to find someone to run or bike with. Maybe you are training for an upcoming multi-sport event and you'd like some help with your swim technique. In an effort to help our YMCA members maximize their outdoor experiences we are offering a new series of outdoor programs and events. They are all free for members and do not require prior registration.

Join Sherri for a morning run at 6:00 AM on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Join Kristin & Lin Fridays at noon for a 4-6 mile run
Join Jake & Sue Fridays at noon for a 2-4 mile run

Three separate groups will ride on Tuesdays at 5:15. Choose the group based on your level.
New Rider Education & Rides are being offered Saturdays April 17, May 1 & May 13. A 20 minute workshop followed by a 60 minute ride.

A Swim Stroke Clinic led By Lin Anderson is set for April 15 at 6:30 PM in the large pool.
Open Water Swim Clinics led by JJ Addison April 19 & April 26 6:00 PM in the large pool.
Open Water Swim practice at YMCA Camp Ingersoll May 28 5:00 PM

YMCA Camp Ingersoll Kickin' Off-Road Duathlon & Kids Duathlon- April 24 PRIOR REGISTRATION NEEDED
Lake Terramuggus Triathlon Series- June 3 & June 17

Hike with Bob Every 1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month 4pm at the YMCA
Beach Volleyball at YMCA Camp Ingersoll w/ Ben. 6PM

For a complete calendar of events check out the website

See you outdoors!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Weight Loss Question

A member asked some questions that I think a lot of people would like to ask, so I will share the questions, and the answers.

The Question:
Hi Kristin,
I have this book called The New Rules of Lifting for Women, that suggests on days you are working out you should be eating around 2300 calories, because your body needs it to fuel the work outs. However, in magazines that you read they suggest you cut back on your calories to 1300-1500 in addition to doing an exercise program to lose weight. So I'm confused as to which way is the healthiest way to lose weight.

I also wanted to know what you think about working out in your target heart rate zone. I have heard that when your heart rate is at a lower level you are burning fat, but that once you go over that level you are into the cardio zone and not really burning the fat. I feel that when I am working out my heart rate goes pretty high and I'm not sure if I should try to keep it lower to lose weight effectively. When I do try to keep it lower, I don't feel like I'm really working out.

Overall, if your goal is to lose weight, should you focus more on cardio or strength training? I know both are good, but is there one better than the other.

The Answer:
Good questions. Don’t subscribe to the magazine hype!
Most women have a resting metabolism that burns somewhere between 2300-2500 calories a day, this is before exercise. The best way to lose weight is at the highest calorie level you can lose weight, because it will have the least effect on your metabolism; which means your weight loss will be maintainable. Low calorie diets are responsible for ruining the resting metabolism and the Yo yo diet syndrome. A healthy maintainable weight loss is about 1% of your body weight each week (for most people that is 1-2 lbs/wk). 3500 hundred calories is equal to 1pound. So you need to be in a 500 calorie deficit each day to lose a pound a week. Let’s say you burn 300 calories a day through exercise, and assume your resting metabolism is 2400 calories~ then your calorie consumption should be 2200 calories.
Strength training is important for keeping your resting metabolism high. Your body needs a lot more calories to maintain muscle cells; so keeping the muscle on your body means you burn more calories when you are sedentary. Cardio is important for burning fat and calories and creating the calorie deficit you need to lose weight.

Your cardio workouts should be varied for the most efficient fat and calorie burn.
Yes working at lower heart rates (65%-75%) burns more calories from stored fat, but less overall calories. Working at between 75-85% will burn a mix of stored fat and carbohydrate, but will burn more calories overall. Working above 85% will burn the most calories, but most of them will come from carbohydrate, and working at this level can only be done for short time periods, and requires a lot of recovery, so as not to create fatigue. So, mix is up; go 2 days long and slow, go 2 days medium hard, for a slightly lesser duration, and do one day of intervals 3 minutes at 85-90%, 2 minutes at 65-75%, repeat 5-6 times.

A Suggestion:
Consider working with one of our personal trainers for a few sessions. Their knowledge, expertise and encouragement will help provide you with answers and support you need to reach all of your fitness goals.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

E-Drive Success

Was there a better day to hold an Electronics Recycling Drive than this Saturday? I doubt it, and if you were one of the many recyclers that came down you know how beautiful it was! The E-Drive was a huge success. The Computer Recycler themselves reported a huge influx of business this Saturday and that means less chemicals are being leaked into landfills at this very moment. If you want an idea of some harmful effects of these materials just scroll down to my last post. So enough talking, here are the stats.
More than 400 electronic items were recycled including:
  • over 65 radios, speakers, sound systems, tape players, CD players, or DVD players
  • over 50 phones, answering machines, or faxes
  • just over 50 computer monitors
  • 55 computer keyboards
  • over 65 computer towers
  • about 15 laptops
  • over 80 scanners, routers, mice, or printers
  • and many other odds and ends
  • *more than 25 cell phones will be donated to the New Horizons Domestic Violence Shelter in Middletown*
We know some people had a hard time finding the Computer Recycler because of the wrong address, thank you for being patient.

Because this even was such a huge success we plan on holding another event in the late Fall. Stay tuned, and do not throw out those electronics! If you can't wait until then go to The Computer Recycler and check out the times you can drop off your electronics for free. Thanks again for helping to keep our community clean!

If you or any teens you know are interested in helping out with projects similar to this check out the Middlesex YMCA Earth Service Corps on Facebook or on the YMCA web site.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Youth Coaches: Teaching Life Skills through Sports

Posted By Michele Rulnick:

Spring is coming and soon those of us with grade school children will be spending our evenings and weekends at ball fields watching our aspiring athletes participate in friendly competition. This ritual is such an important part of our family life. Growing up my two brothers and I played every sport we could. My parents made the sacrifices necessary to drive us town to town and provided us with the equipment that we needed to participate. My father coached many of our teams and I can’t remember a time that either parent missed a game. They pushed us to work hard; they never let us quit a team and supported the coach (even when they didn’t see eye to eye). Through participation in sports we learned the value of hard work, the joy of winning and the agony of defeat. We felt what it was like to be both a champion and part of a losing team. As a result of sports we experienced the disappointment of having to sit on the bench and the pressure of batting clean up. We felt the pride of scoring the winning basket and the pain of making an error that cost our team the game. As adults, those memories and experiences are all relevant and important. The real and lasting value of participation in youth sports is the friendships made, the relationships built with adults who cared more about us then the X and O’s and the life lessons that sports provided.

This is why we start this ritual anew as parents and as coaches. Like my father, my brothers and I all coach youth sports teams. We do so because we love the game but more importantly we love what participation in sports can do for children. We also coach because we understand the value and lasting impact that one adult role model can have on youth development. Coaching involves much more than teaching the game; a great coach teaches life lessons while developing an athlete’s knowledge and personal skills. Liberty Mutual has a great website called Responsible Sports. The website offers terrific tips for coaches, drills and age appropriate skills, and strategies for making a lasting impact. The website is In the coaching resource the ELM is introduced as a philosophical guide for youth coaches. ELM stands for Effort -- always give 100%, Learning -- improve constantly as you gain more knowledge and Mistakes are OK -- mistakes are how we learn. These are the life lessons that shape us into responsible, successful adults. Having more wins than loses does not make one a great coach. A great coach teaches athletes that hard work, focus, personal sacrifice, achieving personal goals and supporting each other as teammates is what makes a great team and a great athlete. I hope that when your child steps onto the field this season they have the opportunity to work with a great coach. If you happen to be that coach – best of luck and have fun!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Importance of After School Programs

High quality after school programs play an extremely important role in the development of a child's mind, body and spirit. Long gone are the days of being able to send a child home after school to an empty house. Times have changed and a new set of challenges and pressures are facing children in the United States. After school programs play a large role in providing children with the skills and support they need to avoid negative peer pressure and become productive, healthy adults.
Knowing that your child is safe and supervised during the after school hours has always been one of the top reasons that parents choose to enroll children in after school programs. Research is now showing that there are additional positive educational and social outcomes to participation in after school programs. Here are some of the other benefits of after school programming:
  • After school programs support a parent's ability to maintain employment. Parents have piece of mind knowing their children are safe and can concentrate more on their work. They have less childcare issues which can lead to a decrease in absenteeism from work.
  • After school programs support academic achievement and help children feel more connected to their school. Children participate in homework clubs and enrichment activities that focus on learning concepts in a fun, hands on way. Children who participate are less likely to be tardy or absent from school.
  • After school is a fantastic opportunity for children to learn social and problem solving skills. A group setting is the perfect venue for children to learn and practice how to interact in a positive way with children and adults from all backgrounds and cultures.
  • The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention states that quality after school programs can cut the risk of youth becoming involved in crime by up to 75 percent. Boredom that can lead to experimentation in risk behaviors or crime is eliminated by an adult supervised environment that provides activities that are of interest to children.
After school care is so much more than just babysitting. It has evolved into an environment for children to gain new skills, participate in activities that reinforce learning in a fun way while spending time with positive adult role models. The field of after school has truly turned into a profession with networks of professionals who are dedicated to positive youth development. I am very proud to be in this field and to work with the dedicated youth development staff here at the Middlesex YMCA.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Electronic Recycling

Last Monday as I walked up the sidewalk to the YMCA I couldn't help but envision myself in Bambi; yes, the Disney movie. I felt as if I could be gallivanting through the forest with cute fuzzy animals in tow whistling chipper show tunes while orchestrating complex (for woodland animals) dance numbers. It was spring, and it felt great for those four days.

Flash forward to the disappointment of this weekend's washout. What is there to do in March when it's raining outside? SPRING CLEANING of course!
I vacuumed, dusted, organized and washed. What did I discover after hours of scrubbing and moving? A computer, broken speakers, a Playstation, radio, a broken fan, and camera; all of which had long outlived their usefulness. These electronics had not been used, or usable in years, but I didn't know what to do with them until now.

Now is the perfect time to do your spring cleaning. Find all those old electronics because you can now recycle them for FREE at this weekends Electronics Recycling Drive held by the Middlesex YMCA Earth Service Corps!
Here are a couple of reasons why you should recycle your electronics this weekend:
  1. Old electronics take up a lot of useful space
  2. Many places charge for the recycling of some electronics: this weekend it's FREE
  3. Electronics can leak harmful chemicals into your house or a landfill if you throw them out: Arsenic found in some integrated circuits can cause damage to your digestive tract, and Beryllium found in battery contacts can be carcinogenic after long term exposure.
  4. All cell phones will be donated to the New Horizons Domestic Violence Shelter. Help support those in need in your community.
So you found all your old electronics and you want to recycle them; what are the specifics?
  • The drive will be held at The Computer Recycler in Cromwell. The building is located west of the police department just off Rt. 372 at 400 Corporate Row.
  • The Drive is on Saturday, March 20th from 9am-2pm.
  • Bring your cell phones, computers, computer accessories, digital cameras, power tools, stereos, gaming systems, and most other used electronics (no TV's) and just drop them off.
  • Cell phones with chargers are appreciated, but not necessary. We will collect them and drop them off with the New Horizons Domestic Violence Shelter in Middletown.
  • For more info (including directions) visit and scroll to the bottom right corner of the page, or go to for a complete list of items, or go to Facebook and search for Middlsex YMCA Earth Service Corps.
Now you have all the info you need to keep your community clean and safe. We hope to see you there on Saturday!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Green Eggs and Ham Literacy Event

On Wednesday March 10th the Phelps Ingersoll Center for Children's child care center at the Northern Middlesex YMCA, hosted an evening with Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss's birthday was this month and the center has been working on curriculum development around literacy and using the books Dr. Seuss created. Literacy is a very important component of the center and the teaching staff wanted to create an event around literacy, that would be beneficial for parents and children.
For the past couple of weeks, teachers have been working with the children reading Dr. Seuss books, such as Green Eggs and Ham, Cat in the Hat, The Foot, and Sneetches and tying them to learning activities in the classrooms. On Wednesday night, Parents, Grandparents and Children were invited to the center for a dinner of "Green Eggs and Ham" which was followed by some of our Middletown community partners LT. Heather Desmond of the Middletown Police Dept. and Asst. Fire Marshall Matthew Scarrozzo to read the story "Green Eggs and Ham" to all 3 preschool classrooms of children and families. After the story, Parents were invited to participate in an activity that their children have been doing in the classroom. In the Jungle room, children and parents created their own plate of green eggs and ham using art materials. In the Ocean room, parents and children got to make a "Cat in the Hat" hat. In the Orchard room, parents and children made individual puzzles from their favorite picture in the Green Eggs and Ham book.
The evening ended with some words from the teaching staff to parents about the importance of reading daily to children and having children becoming life long reader. Parents were sent home with a list of popular and appropriate books for preschool aged children. A good time was had by all!

Why I Love the NCAA Tournament

At the beginning of March I start to get this itching feeling that something exciting is about to happen. My foot taps wildly to the beat of some unheard music. And I seem to have the urge to eat pizza and chicken wings.
It's NCAA tournament time and besides maybe Christmas and Memorial Day it's my favorite time of the year. I've never really thought about why I love it so much, I just assumed it was the natural inclination of every man or woman that ever attended the University of Connecticut. But now that I have children I find myself being much more contemplative, so I spent some time examining why March Madness is so great...and here's what I came up with:
  1. Spring is in the air.- The tournament is in harmony with the seasons. I don't think that it is a coincidence that teams are "seeded" at the same time that my lawn and garden are also.
  2. Brackets are fun and easy.- It is very complicated to try to explain to my wife all the different conferences and automatic bids and at large bids and so forth (most of the time I don't understand it either) but once the 65 teams are chosen and put into the bracket, it is very easy to follow along.
  3. Shared knowledge (or lack of it).- Since almost no one knows about IUPUI or Mount St. Mary's or Robert Morris, we are all in the same boat when we choose our winners.
  4. Upset Specials.- Let's face it we love the underdogs. We root for Davey vs. Goliath and we hope that the small school with no scholarship players can beat the NBA factory school.
  5. Healthy Competition.- Sometimes I do get a little tired of hearing about the multi-million dollar contracts that professional athletes sign and it's nice to just watch young men and women that are playing hard for their team and their school. I'm sure winning the championship comes with certain "rewards" but in essence they are playing for bragging rights.
  6. Great stories.- Each year there are always a few incredible stories about individual players that have battled difficult circumstances in order to attend college and play basketball. They may not have an NBA career ahead of them, but then neither does my son, and I'd rather have him look up to a young person whose tenacity and character shines through more brightly than their basketball skills.
  7. Connecticut- Okay, so I'm a homer. I'm a UCONN fan (a disappointed men's fan and an amazed women's fan).
For me the NCAA tournament is a wonderful display of great physical feats and riveting emotional intensity.
And since UCONN is out, I need to find a substitute to root for...any suggestions?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Spend Time With Your Family This March

"Time flies," as the old saying goes, but in today's fast-paced world, it's never been so true. How many times this winter have you put off building a snowman or sledding with your family, and thought "We'll do it next week"? Before you know it, all the snow is gone, spring is right around the corner and that snowman was never made. Most parents realize the rewards of close family ties, yet the demands of jobs and day-to-day household activities can be stressful and tiring. It's easy for quality time with our kids to get left out. You don't want to waste another season thinking about that family hike you never made it to.

Spending time with your children gives you a chance to shape their values. As your children get older, you can provide a good frame of reference as they are exposed to the growing influence of peers and popular culture. The more time you spend with your children, the more you will be able to help them tune in to their abilities, skill-building activities, and healthy friendships.

This time of the year is a great time to get in some quality time with your family. Spring brings the renewal of love for the outdoors, spring cleaning, Easter eggs, St. Patrick's Day and of course the Shamrock Shake. However, did you know that March is National Craft Month? What a better way to spend time with your family than celebrating with your family with a few St. Patrick's Day and Easter themed projects. Check out kaboose for some great craft ideas that you can do right at your home!

If you are looking to get out of the house, Visit New England and Uptake have easy to read lists of family friendly events in our area and beyond. Of course YMCA Camp Ingersoll's Egg-Stravaganza, Saturday March 27th is a great way for young families to enjoy time together.

Don't spend this spring putting off the things family memories are made of. Let's get outside, spend time together and have fun!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Richard is the perfect example! Look at his picture and ask yourself:”What would I give for that smile”? He’s one of ours and we are all part of the village that it takes to help him grow safe and strong.

Not long ago Richard didn’t know how to swim but now he has a good start on the basics thanks to some great teachers, a pool conveniently located near his pre-school here at the Middlesex Y and a generous donor.

Richard is the perfect example of the win win nature of philanthropy; Richard gets to learn how to be safe around and enjoy the water. Our generous donor who helped to make this possible gets to see a smile that brightens her day each and every time she sees his picture. What would you give for that smile?

Our Y is a charitable organization that puts your dollars to good use supporting families, building character and promoting wellness. Join our cause!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rise of Triathlon

Triathlon ~ the rise of a sport

According to the USAT (USA Triathlon Organization), the sport continues to gain popularity despite hard economic times. People are signing up for races in record numbers; annual USAT membership increased by 14.2% just in 2009, with more than 125,000 belonging to the organization.
It has been the fastest growing sport in the US since it first appeared at the Olympics in 2000. One of the reasons for it popularity is the fact that there is a race for anyone who is willing to train. Distances range from the very short, or “Sprints” to extreme endurance “Ironman” to the in between, “Olympic” and “Half-Iron” distances. Races may be either on or off road. It is possible to race as and individual or to compete as a team in a relay with one person doing each leg. Really the sport offers something for everyone. There are also other multi-sports venues for those who are not fond of the swim, bike, run. For the non-swimmer, there is the Duathlon, which is a run, bike, run, or there are a multitude of Adventure Races, which may include things like paddling, climbing, and repelling.
If you are interested in training for your first multi-sports event or you are an experienced Triathlete the Middlesex YMCA is a great place to train, and to meet training partners. The Middlesex Y is hosting a number of triathlon, and multi-sports focused events including a Fitness Contest, with the goal of completing the Ironman Distance in less then a month (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run), an indoor winter sprint series on February 27th, March 13t, hMarch 27th, and April 10th (email: for details). We will also be hosting our first YMCA Camp Ingersoll Off Road Duathlon on April 24th 2010, and our 3rd Annual Camp Ingersoll Youth Triathlon on August 8th 2010. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Benefits of Summer Camp

For both parents and kids it’s never too early to start thinking about summer vacation; though they may think about it for different reasons. Parents are concerned with ensuring that their children are safe, supervised, and engaged in activities that develop skills and keep their minds and bodies active when school lets out for the summer. Youngsters eagerly anticipate the free time, simply want to have fun, learn something new, and make friends. The right summer camp will be able to provide all of these experiences for your family.

Gone are the days when day camp meant simply tying knots or making pot holders Today, summer day camp programs are as unique as the campers themselves. We still provide arts and crafts, but we also offer kids exceptional opportunities to enjoy activities and resources that are often unavailable to them during the school year. Campers can go for a hike, play sports, climb the tower, learn how to maneuver a canoe, dress up as their favorite superhero and much more!

Camp programs are always designed to provide opportunities for physical activity. This is vital due to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that 9 million young people between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight and on a very unhealthy path to adulthood. The number of overweight children in the U.S. has more than doubled since 1980. Increasing the levels of physical activity in the lives of our children is a critical component of this country’s efforts to help children get healthier. Children are at less risk at camp where they have a sense of community, develop intergenerational relationships, and learn through first-hand experiences. Camps help children grow and learn by providing a supervised, positive environment that has building strong minds, bodies and spirits as a primary commitment.

Day camps are positioned to help young people get healthier and feel connected to their communities during summer months. I want to encourage parents and kids to experience our longstanding commitment to strengthening the spirits, minds and bodies of kids firsthand.