Curiosity at the Creek

As a homeschooler growing up in central Oklahoma, I spent the majority of my time outdoors. My neighborhood backed up to a creek that ran for several miles in either direction. My brothers and I would spend hours exploring the slick clay banks collecting golf balls and jumping into murky pools as we went. It was here that I first experienced the pleasure of having over a dozen ticks on me at once and where I first fell through a sheet of thin ice on a cold afternoon. It was also where I learned about water currents, trees, animal habitats, geology, and as neighborhoods began springing up around it suburban sprawl. Through these experiences I gained a curious mind, an appreciation for the outdoors, and a passion for sharing it with others. I am especially passionate about sharing these experiences with the homeschool community, the community that helped form my passions.

In the past year YMCA Camp Lincoln has offered monthly programs to the homeschool community covering topics from migration and forest ecology to winter survival. My goal with these programs is to create a community of curious individuals that have a desire to go home and learn more. Learning through doing (experiential education) is the basis for each program, with students touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, and listening. We explore and discover our natural world.

I remember being a shy kid who was able to open up in the outdoors and feel at ease with others around me. I have seen this very thing happen in YMCA programs. I am excited to continue working with our homeschool community and hopefully our programs and interactions with families will make the same kind of positive impact that I experienced. My life’s direction started by spending a little time outdoors and my hope is to inspire a few others.

-Geof Harris
YMCA Camp Lincoln Program Director

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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 www.crowdrise.com/ymcaplunge 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 www.crowdrise.com/ymcaplunge

Let’s Go To Summer Camp!

Camping, like many Y programs, is about learning skills, developing character and making friends. But few environments are as special as camp, where kids become a community as they learn both how to be more independent and how to contribute to a group as they engage in physical, social and educational activities. Camping teaches self-reliance, a love for nature and the outdoors, and the development of attitudes and practices that build character and leadership—all amidst the fun of camp fires, bugle calls, canoeing, archery, talent shows, and meaningful relationships. Y counselors are dedicated to making sure camp is an amazing experience for every camper.

At Camp Lincoln, programs for younger campers are more structured while older campers have more choices about the activities in their day. Traditional day camp activities include swimming lessons, arts and crafts, archery, sports, and more. Specialized camps for older campers offer the choice to participate in off-site activities such as golf or horseback riding. Campers, from ages 11-15, can also participate in 5-day overnight adventure camps throughout New England, from Cape Cod to the White Mountains, and beyond to Quebec City.

YMCA Camp Lincoln offers a variety of affordable summer camp programs with transportation and expanded camp times for working families. No camper has been turned away for inability to pay in 89 years. Scholarships are available for campers in need.

Online registration for summer camp at YMCA Camp Lincoln is open and filling quickly! Since 1926, campers have developed friendships, discovered new talents and built self-confidence at YMCA Camp Lincoln. Families with children ages 3 to 15 can learn more about a day at camp – and register – on our website.

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WINTERFEST 2015 at YMCA Camp Lincoln

YMCA Camp Lincoln chose another perfect winter day to host WINTERFEST. More than 70 people braved the cold, with sleds and skates in hand, and made their way to the shores of Kingston Lake for sledding, ice skating, snow-angel making, and hot chocolate drinking and s’more eating by the campfire.

The skating was perfect; Camp Lincoln staff had shoveled a skating area and trails, but skaters discovered that they could skate through the light snow anyways. Conversation and laughter echoed across the lake.

How are you staying active with your family this winter? Here are some ideas for creative ways to stay active and healthy this winter.

Thanks to all who joined us for a fun WINTERFEST at YMCA Camp Lincoln! Check out photos from WINTERFEST on Facebook.

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Fun and Friends at Family Camp

Each fall, Camp Lincoln opens it’s doors, cabins, and activity areas to families for a long weekend. We call it Family Camp, and it is exactly as it sounds. Children, parents, grandparents and friends settle into lakeside cabins, unroll their sleeping bags onto wooden-framed bunk beds, pull on their wool socks and hats (or bathing suits!) and enjoy and challenge themselves at camp activities. From kayaking to hiking, pumpkin carving to campfires, families enjoy a relaxing and fun weekend at camp!

Thank you to the ten families who joined us for a beautiful weekend at camp! Family Camp 2014 was a great success. We look forward to seeing all of you again next fall.

Does this sound like your cup of tea? Learn more about Family Camp at Camp Lincoln, and join us in 2015!

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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

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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