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.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Middlesex YMCA Strong Kids Campaign

Did you know...

The YMCA of Northern Middlesex County was established in 1886. In 1928, a new building was added to meet growing enrollment, offering a swimming pool, two gymnasiums, billiards, bowling lanes and 64 dormitory rooms. This building remains today as the primary base of operations. In 1972 the building was expanded, adding a second pool, health center, and additional racquetball courts to the facilities. Here are some other little known facts about the Middlesex YMCA:

- Thirty percent of our memberships are families.
- We are the largest before and after school childcare provider in the area.
- Over 1,000 campers attend YMCA Camp Ingersoll and Outdoor Center each summer.
- We have an aquatics program for people suffering from arthritis.
- Many use our pool for physical therapy purposes.
- Our Mentoring Program helps children with special social and behavioral needs.
- Our Phelps Ingersoll Center for Children provides preschool and school readiness for 45 children.
- The YMCA Barracudas swim team has a roster of 130 kids that pound the water in our winter swim season and 75 kids in our summer season.
- We still provide 62 units of safe, affordable housing for men.
- We have a membership of over 3,370.
- Over 300 individuals receive financial assistance based on need.

Did you also know that...

The Middlesex YMCA awards over $300,000 of financial assistance to families each year. The Strong Kids Campaign is an annual fundraiser whose proceeds benefit our YMCA Open Doors Financial Assistance Program. The fist leg of fundraising is our Employee Campaign. Middlesex YMCA employees have thus far donated over $12,000 to ensure that all families and children have access to YMCA programs at affordable prices. Employees who donated were given a leaf to proudly display on our Strong Kids Employee Giving Tree located in our lobby. Thank you to all employees who supported this great cause! This is just another example of how the Middlesex YMCA is a Community of Caring People Who Support Families, Build Character and Promote Wellness.

The employee campaign is just the beginning of the fundraising. On February 11th we began our Strong Kids Community Campaign. We are fortunate to have so many wonderful volunteers who share their YMCA stories and spread our message throughout the community. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the following businesses who are showing their support to our Strong Kids Community Campaign by offering matching funds:

A & A Office Systems
Best Cleaners
Citizens Bank
Daniels Oil
Liberty Bank
May, Bonee & Walsh
Suburban Office Products

Generous donors make it possible for our Open Doors financial assistance program to respond to the needs of all community members. If you know anyone who is interested in making a charitable donation, please have them consider the Middlesex YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. If you have any questions about our campaign or for more information please contact Bob Spencer at (860) 343-6232.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Right Summer Camp

Chances are you have already been inundated by flyers, brochures, and other promotional camp materials. I know what many of you are thinking: Is this guy really talking about camp a day before were about to get "walloped" (their words not mine) by a winter snow storm? Well I am. Camp registration is in full swing and if you don't start the process now you might be closed out of a program you really want.

If you have ever looked for a summer camp you know it can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some questions and tips to prepare you for picking the right camp for both you and your child.

  • Camp Philosophy: Does the camp philosophy match your opinion of a successful summer camp experience? Are you looking for a competitive sport camp, something adventurous and new, or a little bit of everything with emphasis on personal interaction?
  • Staff: How does the camp recruit and train staff? Are counselors certified in CPR and First Aid, and are there background checks? Also how much time does a camp spend training there staff and how are they prepared to handle your child?
  • Safety: You want to be assured your child is in a safe and fun environment. Who is the first aid provider, is there a certified nurse, how big are your groups, and what are your pick up and supervision policies? Are there any special schedules or precautions for adverse weather? Safety should be just as important to your camp as it is to you.
  • Activities and Schedule: Is it important to have a schedule with 8 periods a day where campers are led through various counselor driven activities? Does your child tire easily and need special accommodations to make it through the day? Some camps may offer a few choices of activities and others may make activities available to all campers. How important are specialized unique program such as Archery, Ropes, or Boating to you and your child?
  • Convenience: Children come to camp for many different reasons, which is why it's important to choose a camp that fits your needs. You may want to look for transportation, before and after camp, or lunch options. Will driving to a camp far away add more stress to your day, or is it worth the time spent?
So now you know what to look for, but where do you get the information? Call local camps directly, research online, and look in brochures to get an overall feel. Attend an open house, take a tour, and ask other parents for recommendations. If you do not know any other parents call the camp and they will often refer you to a parent willing to talk to you. Yes it's a lot of information, but now you know what to look for and just imagine the smile on your child's face after a fun day at camp.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Health Care Reform Starts with You

All of the debate circling around Health Care Reform has led me to the conclusion that it is more important than ever to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. I want to avoid costly medical expenses, I don't want to be a burden on the system and I want to have enough energy and vitality to enjoy my family time.
So, I'm taking the responsibility of making my own health care reform. I haven't had any committee meetings, and haven't done extensive research into new solutions (although I would admit that this plan has been bogged down for a few years.) I am starting with what seems to make sense for me, I am trying to eat better and exercise....not revolutionary concepts.

Beginning in November I have been trying this new strategy and two things have happened:
#1- People are very supportive and some are even inspired to do something, too.
#2- I feel great, and that has given me momentum to do more in hopes of getting even better results.

So, put down the Big Mac Snack Wrap, lace up your sneakers and getting started. If you need help or a coach come down here to the YMCA and we'll do it together.