GREEN With about 1,300 attendees exploring the outdoors at Camp Y-Noah, this year’s Healthy Kids Day was the biggest success yet for the Akron Area YMCA. Held on April 22, the four hour event was the first collaboration between all of Akron Area YMCAs for the organization’s annual event.
By about 1:45 p.m., rumors floated up that the road was backed up to Arlington Road with waiting cars. Parking for the free event spilled onto on the soccer field. Temperatures rose into high 60s and low 70s with bright sunlight and a cool breeze.
Carl "Rocky" Wargo, the associate executive director of Camp Y-Noah, stood at the entrance, passing out maps and counting the number of people. He credits this year’s success not only to teamwork, but also the weather.
"It’s our first really nice day this year," he said. "If it had been cold and rainy like earlier in the week, then it would have probably just been me and two others."
More than 100 staff and volunteers in bright lime green shirts directed vehicles, welcomed guests, cooked food, and ran the attractions. Membership and front desk staff worked the sign-in and welcome tables.
Sports crew manned the basketball, gaga, nine-square stations. The summer camp staff and aquatics teams staffed Kastner Lodge assisting those that wanted to canoe and going over water safety. Summer Camp Director Ben Hunsicker gave very animated instructions on life vests while his staff helped families two by two get into canoes and out on the lake.
At the nature center, kids asked questions about beavers and got to stroke real animal pelts. Parents and children also learned that hornets’ nests were made from hornet spit and were able to touch an old hive. Nature hikes also started at the center and departed every half hour.
Out on the path, little girls in cowboy boots made the long trek to the other side of camp to ride quarter horses and ponies. Donkeys were also available to see at the petting zoo. Overheard on the path, a young girl said, "Mom, thanks for taking us here. It’s a dream come true."
Up the hill at the archery range, Longwood YMCA personnel instructed guests on how to use the compound bows and each person got three tries.
Inside the dining hall, attendees assembled their own healthy snacks with the Pita Pizza being the biggest hit. Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) volunteers sweated in the kitchen to keep up with demand.
Also available in the dining hall were graham crackers with choices of fruit, popcorn, a somewhat untouched table of free toothbrushes, and a six flavor tongue-testing table. To educate kids on the types of toppings available, each station had signs with the names and some facts about the fruits and veggies offered.
Bags with raffle tickets filled up quickly with winners to be drawn the next day. Prizes included a free week of day camp, a rock climbing birthday party, a horse trail ride for two, a family pass to Wadsworth YMCA Grizzly Pool, one month of family membership, gift bags, one session of swim lessons, and one week of overnight camp.
Leaders of the Healthy Kids Day committee would like to see the event happen again next year and are dedicated to working out the kinks like lines and the wait times.