During the summer of 2016, 185 day campers at YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center participated in service projects in Rocky Mountain National Park. Their commitment totaled 711.5 hours of human service work. These campers were participants in the Play, Learn, Serve, Work Partnership between the YMCA and RMNP.
The PLSW Partnership began as a national initiative in 2015 between YMCA of the USA and the Department of the Interior and also takes place in 10 other locations across the country.
As a part of the PLSW Partnership, day campers learned about nature in environmental classes such as Food Webs, Weather, Fish Adaptations, Sensory Explorations, Water Ecology, Animal Olympics and more. These classes were taught by National Park Service Rangers and YMCA Camp Counselors and were a part of the NPS Junior Ranger curriculum.
In 2016, 1,654 youth were enrolled in the YMCA’s Day Camp program. Some attended just for a day or two, and others participated for the whole summer. The older campers in 5th to 8th grades completed the service projects in RMNP in one of four categories: invasive species removal, fire mitigation, trail maintenance and litter clean up. They also had the option to complete Junior Ranger requirements. Every Friday, day campers who had completed all the Junior Ranger requirements were sworn in at the Closing Camp Ceremony. 175 campers received their badges during the duration of the nine-week summer program.
After the last week of camp several local day campers were recognized. These six campers, Emmanuel Navas Acosta, Darrel Guadarrama Rojas, Jenna Sullivan, Cooper Bucci, Pablo Escarcega and Oliver Tapia Villegas completed four or more service projects and local 7th grader Jordan Sullivan received special recognition for completing nine service projects. He got a lot of satisfaction out of the hard work he put in. “I liked that I was helping with the park and helping to kind-of preserve the park and everything in it. And the park is such a beautiful place,” he said.
Sullivan especially enjoyed the trail maintenance. “It was my favorite project because we were making the trail strong so the horses couldn’t break it – it was a trail that horses went on.” He said he is considering becoming a YMCA Camp Counselor when he is older.
Although registration isn’t open yet, youth who come to the YMCA’s summer day camp in 2017 will also participate in the Play, Learn, Serve, Work Partnership. Learn more about the YMCA of the Rockies Day Camp at ymcarockies.org/summer-day-camp.