Make A Splash For Youth!

Nearly 6,000 school-age children throughout southern New Hampshire are engaged in Southern District YMCA programs each year. More than 100 kids from 95 families receive financial assistance so they can attend before and after school programs, as well as summer camp at YMCA Camp Lincoln. No one is ever turned away from the YMCA for inability to pay.

Financial assistance is supported through generous community donations and fundraisers such as the 5th Annual Paddle Plunge on April 11 from 10AM – 1PM. Paddle Plunge participants will don their best costumes and take a freezing dip in Kingston Lake to raise money to send local youth to camp and safe after school programs.

Community members are invited to join a team, donate online at and attend FREE Family Fun Day, which will be held during the Paddle Plunge. Guests can participate in FREE activities like face painting, playing carpet ball and camp games, s’mores and a free lunch!

Some local organizations are hosting their own fundraisers. Parishioners at Stratham Community Church recently raised $400 to help a camper in need attend summer camp at YMCA Camp Lincoln. Donations like this make it possible for the Y to offset the costs of child care and summer camp for families in need.

WHAT: 5th Annual Paddle Plunge and Family Fun Day

WHEN: Saturday, April 11 from 10AM-1PM

WHERE: YMCA Camp Lincoln, 67 Ball Rd, Kingston, NH 03848

WHY: No one is ever turned away from the Y for inability to pay. More than 100 kids from 95 families receive financial assistance so they can attend before and after school programs, as well as summer camp at YMCA Camp Lincoln. The Paddle Plunge is a fun way to celebrate the end of winter and raise money to support financial assistance.

DONATE: Join a team or support an existing one at

Art Impact

The Arts leave a lasting mark on youth, inspiring self-expression, self-esteem, and critical and creative thinking. According to research by the John F. Kennedy Center, youth who regularly participate in arts programs tend to display more intellectual curiosity, experience higher levels of excitement from their school work, and apply more effort during their attempts to complete school projects and assignments. Parents of these youth noticed their children taking more risks, solving problems with ease, and respecting other people’s ideas and opinions. Students in the Kennedy Center’s Arts in Education Research Study were more confident, intellectually curious, and positively challenged citizens who may be better equipped to generate original ideas to improve their communities and contribute to a creative global economy.

To help nurture the potential of our youth, the Y offers a Y-Arts programs to help improve creative and tactical skills, learn to socialize and build relationships. The Y-Arts program can make all the difference for some children, keeping young minds creating and discovering.

Community member and parent to a former Y-Arts student, Rosanna Salcedo tells us “the Y-Arts program gave my child the freedom to express his creativity, and encouraged him to explore new forms of artistic expression, in a supportive environment. Thanks to Y-Arts, he has experience using a variety of materials and techniques.”

Learn more about Y-Arts! Registration is open for the next Y-Arts Session. Classes meet once a week from 4-5 pm for 6 weeks at the YMCA in Exeter, 30 Linden St. Each class costs $85 for 6 weeks. All classes are taught by local Exeter artist, Marissa Vitolo.

Y-Arts Session 2: Tuesday, March 10th – Thursday, April 16th

Tuesdays: Painting and Drawing

Thursdays: Hand building (clay)

Register today!

4th Annual Paddle Plunge

On the overcast, 44-degree morning of April 5th, 16 teams braved the 4th Annual Paddle Plunge into frozen Kingston Lake. Two days prior to the event, Camp Lincoln staff chipped ice 7 feet off the shore to clear enough water for teams to run across the cold sand and plunge into the frigid water.

Together 23 teams raised $4,660 dollars for the Southern District YMCA Annual Scholarship Fund. The top fundraising teams include Stratham SACC lead by Billie Jo, Camp Lincoln CIT’s captained by Mike Short, Team Wagnitz inspired by Kristina Wagnitz, and Plaistow SACC lead by Hope MacDonald.

The Southern District YMCA appreciates all of the volunteers who helped make this event memorable. Special thanks go to the Kingston Lake Association for costume judging, Tracey Miller from Food and Health Forum and Tracey Miller Wellness for serving delicious healthy smoothies, and Sanborn High School student leaders who were ready to help and get wet! Check out these recipes for the healthy snacks served at the Paddle Plunge!

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Foxes, Trees and Squirrels

Our School Age Child Care program is currently operating in 16 local communities, to more than 660 students, facilitated by more than 80 staff members. The program’s focus is on four core content areas: Art, Literacy, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), and Health and Wellness, and consistently recognizes the YMCA’s 9 Dimensions of Well-being: Health, Character, Achievement, Giving, Meaning, Safety, Belonging, Inspiration, and Relationships.

One successful tool utilized by our SACC program is CATCH, which stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health. CATCH Kids Club is a physical activity and nutrition education program designed for elementary aged children in an after-school setting – how perfect! For us, CATCH is an incredibly valuable resource base for nutrition education materials, snack activities, and physical activity ideas. Some of our students’ favorite CATCH games are Dragon Tails, Sherlock Holmes, Satellites, Up and Over, and Foxes, Trees and Squirrels. Have your children played these games? Which one is their favorite and why?

CATCH games have become so popular at our sites, that when non-CATCH games are played, the children “CATCHify” them – adjusting games so that everyone is included and can play the entire time. Dodge ball, a favorite, becomes dodge ball with re-entry. Knock Out, a basketball game that usually ends up with all but 2 players sitting on the sidelines, becomes a game of double Knock Out, where two games are played simultaneously, and when a child gets out of one game they switch to the other. “CATCHified” games have become a wonderful tool for teaching a few of the YMCA’s 9 Dimensions of Well-being. And best of all, everyone is having fun!


A Mother-Daughter Y Story

My Y story begins like this; a wintry night, a movie night, and a late arrival during the college winter break. My daughter’s good friend was late to our house for the gathering because she had been at an interview for a position at Camp Lincoln. She oozed enthusiasm about the camp. I mentioned that since Sarah had secured a job there, it would be great for Kayla to apply as well, in an effort to help with college costs. We felt that eating tuna casserole five nights a week was becoming intolerable.

Being quiet and reserved, my daughter immediately focused on the dreaded interview, which meant that she would have to talk to a “stranger” (I may have drilled that to the core in childhood.) Nonetheless, I forced her to call Camp Lincoln the next day to arrange for an interview, thus negating a full day of holiday spirit.

She wanted the job, just not the interview. Silence on the way over on her part, and “helpful” interview tips from mom. We left an hour early. We arrived at beautiful Camp Lincoln 40 minutes early. We sat. Finally, with 20 minutes to go until the interview, I told her to go in. She refused. I cajoled, demanded, begged, and, finally said, “Get out of this car now!” I was reminded how mean I was with a slamming of the car door.

While Kayla met with Jeff Gleason, I waited in the car and mentally reviewed all of my childrearing mistakes over the last 18 years. Finally, she emerged with a bounce in her step, and hopped into the car. “I love it here!” she exclaimed. “I would so love to work here!”

She was hired. She left our house every morning an hour earlier than her start time. She loved the activities and the kids. She taught responsibility, kindness, and the value of teamwork. She learned how to have and love a job. Above all, Camp Lincoln reinforced what we had taught her over the years, and she passed it on and blossomed. I cried at the first Family Night at camp, and at the night that she was named Counselor of the Year. Camp Lincoln had turned my child into a mature young woman. She looks forward to going back for her third year.

Sandy Janowski is a Camp Lincoln parent from Stratham, NH who also volunteers her time for Southern District YMCA.

Sandy & Kayla Janowski

Sandy and Kayla Janowski

Real Results By HEPA Standards

Every day we serve fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy grains to children in communities across New Hampshire. And almost every day, in at least one community, we hear children say “I don’t like that”. We know it’s normal for a child to express disinterest in something they are unfamiliar with. We follow up with questions “Have you ever tried it?” and always encourage a “no thank you bite” – hopefully fostering a desire or willingness to try new things. Recently in Hampstead, a little boy would not try the vegetable offered at snack (red and orange peppers). He was insistent and only ate the grains; however, afterward he was still hungry. A staff member suggested he try the peppers because they taste good and he just might like them. He agreed, stiffened up, and braced himself for the taste of an orange pepper. After a big bite, his face changed and he said “Wow! This tastes like candy!” He said that because the peppers were red and orange, like the color of fire, he had thought they would be spicy and hot. Now, he is happily eating peppers!

We see similar examples endlessly, children exclaiming “Ew, beans!” at the start of a quesadilla cooking lesson, and by the end saying “yum, I love beans!”. We are proud to say we follow the HEPA (Healthy Eating, Physical Activity) Standards in each of our 16 afterschool programs.  We are encouraging nearly 700 children daily to try new fruits and vegetables, and we are providing them with 30 minutes of physical activity per day.

We have children in Raymond going home to their families and teaching them how to make “fruit salsa” and then reporting back to our YMCA staff with the results. There are children in Exeter (among other towns) who now continually add fruit to their water because one time a staff person role modeled by putting slices of grapefruit and lemon in their water. Children are watching staff and their peers try new things on a daily basis and they’re becoming more inclined to join them. Following HEPA Standards continues to have wonderful impact on our communities. We are passionate about this movement and are hopefully grooming children in our programs to be our futures spokespeople.


Fall Homeschool Picnic

Last week Camp Lincoln hosted roughly 120 children and parents at the annual Homeschool Picnic. Much more than a picnic, these families participated in a day of camp activities including the ropes course, archery, fall crafts, boating, candle making, and pumpkin decorating. The event was a complete success, and we are already looking forward to this winter’s Homeschool Winter Festival. Winter Festival will include ice skating, snowshoeing, winter survival skills, sledding, and more! Homeschoolers, we hope you will join us!

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Thank You, ECCA!

During a small reception last week, the president of the Exeter Center for Creative Arts (ECCA) presented a check of $26,522 to Southern District YMCA in support of the campaign to build a YMCA facility in Exeter. In September, the ECCA board voted to dissolve ECCA as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and donate its remaining funds to the Y, continuing its long-standing dedication to art education.

The Board of Directors for the Exeter Center for Creative Arts (ECCA) has enjoyed a two-year partnership with the Y-Arts program operated by Southern District YMCA.

“We have been so pleased that the Y-Arts curriculum provides high quality arts education for our community,” said Emma Dentinger, president, ECCA Board of Directors. “That was always ECCA’s goal. Looking forward, we are energized by putting the support of ECCA into the Southern District YMCA campaign to build a facility in which to continue art education classes.”

“It is our pleasure to carry on the wonderful legacy of ECCA,” said Cindy Dominguez, vice chair, Board of Directors, Southern District YMCA, upon accepting the donation on behalf of the YMCA. “The Y-Arts program provides learning through experience, which instills in young minds the value of creative expression. This kind of experience gives kids in-the-moment creative accomplishment that is critical in today’s world, and is perfectly aligned with YMCA goals of developing mind, body, and soul.”

ECCA’s vision of art education in Exeter will live on in the planned YMCA facility. Southern District YMCA is raising the needed funds to build a 30,000-square-foot YMCA at 56 Linden St., site of the old Exeter Area Junior High School. The facility will serve the community needs for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

Read the full article here.

25 and Counting…

August 23rd, 2013 – Today is the last day of camp. The view from my office window is of a beautiful blue sky, white church and Swasey Parkway in Exeter. I am imagining the “hub-bub” of camp as another wonderful season ends. Children’s excited chatter, camp songs, staff Hi-Fives and bugles soon fade. The transition from camp to school age child care comes again like the swing of the pendulum.

I have been blessed to be a part of this magic for 25 years. I have experienced up close the sights and sounds, smells and dust of camp. I have watched campers become staff, my own children included. I have shared the joy as a few staff became husband and wife and then parents. I watched from my window as the staff “kids” and hundreds of campers grow each year learning the lessons of nature from the shores of Kingston Lake.

Within my job description I have been able to dabble in my gardening hobby – yes, hard at work at the Y. I was extremely surprised this summer at the July Community Night to be honored for those 25 years of service. Rob spoke of all the people’s lives I have touched, but I see the flip side. I have so many memories of all the children, parents and staff that have touched my life. Some have passed through for new adventures while others are forever friends. My rock adorns one of the gardens for all to see – thank you!

Southern District YMCA/Camp Lincoln has grown so over 25 years! I arrived to a small summer camp and just a few school age child care programs. Slow and steady we have progressed, added and improved to become the amazing organization we are today. The YMCA foundation is built on the roots of Honesty, Responsibility, Caring and Respect and they have served us well. Just as my office view has changed from the up close and personal of camp to the expansive landscape of Exeter and beyond, the vision of our Y is extensive and expanding. Be it camping, child care, outdoor education or building a new facility, I can only imagine the positive influence SD YMCA will extend to the community in the years to come. Year #26 … bring it on!

Written By Beverly Bowles

Southern District YMCA Office Manager

Beverly Bowles

25 Years of YMCA Service

It is typical of a large organization to ebb and flow with time. Campers grow up, positions change, new programs begin, employees move on. We are fortunate this year to celebrate Beverly Bowles for 25 years of service to Southern District YMCA/Camp Lincoln.

Executive Director, Rob McGregor, described Bev as the steady anchor in our organization, and spoke of Bev’s wonderful impact on the YMCA at Community Night at Camp Lincoln last month. Bev’s passion for gardening is evident in the multiple flower gardens that she has created over the past 25 years. It is certainly appropriate for a beautiful flower garden that overlooks Kingston Lake to be dedicated to Bev for her 25 years of service. Congratulations, Bev!

bevs garden