GREEN The rain could not stop the second annual Healthy Kids Day at Camp Y-Noah on April 28.
The Akron Area YMCA opened the gates to camp at noon and made sure to be flexible with the weather. It had also made changes to accomodate the number of visitors.
Last year, the YMCA had a whopping 1,300 people show up. This year’s numbers were smaller and the camp’s executive director Carl "Rocky" Wargo thinks, "the weather had a lot to do with our numbers this year, but overall the folks that came out seemed to have a great time. I have our numbers at 475."
Healthy Kids Day started cold and gloomy at noon. Puddles pocketed the ground and mud stuck heavy on participants’ boots. While they couldn’t clear the clouds, YMCA staff did make the best with what they had. They started fires in the fireplaces. A bus that was originally used for bringing staff and volunteers from neighboring YMCA’s was put into action. It offered visitors a clean and warm ride from the dining hall to the equestrian barn with stops at the campfire and canoeing. Indoor activities included equestrian rides, yoga and Zumba and food.
To mitigate the big problem of bottlenecking and long lines of last year, they doubled the volunteers and added activities like a campfire with brown sugar apples, a healthy day snack for healthy kids and yoga and Zumba. At the archery range, one of the longest lines last year, they included archery runners to pick up the arrows so the instructors could keep the participants circulating. The staff also extended the event by two hours to give people a wider time frame to visit.
"Last year, it was amazing. Our Sunday was really nice, but you have no idea [with the weather]. I think last year was a little bit of an anomaly because the weather couldn’t have been better. People who were already on the fence came out [that day] because it was a nice day," said Akron Area YMCA Marketing Director Judi Christy.
Some other changes included food and snacks which could be purchased for $1-$3. As part of a scavenger hunt, a very happy land shark could be spotted stretching during yoga, canoeing on the lake, singing and dancing by the campfire, and almost every other camp activity. Everything except riding the horses. The horses were afraid of the shark.
Other standard camp events included basketball, gaga, archery, and cornhole. Attendees could also register for a chance to win a raffle basket. Prizes included a three-month membership to the Akron Area YMCAs, swim lessons, group fitness lessons, a game night basket with board games and gift cards for take out, and a week of overnight camp.
Staff are already preparing for next year’s improvements like bringing yoga mats so participants don’t have to worry about a potentially mud-caked floor.
Healthy Kids Day brings families and kids together to educate them about being healthy. It gets them outside and working on their creative, social, and problem solving skills. Every April, YMCA’s in the US host celebrations that focus on play.