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

Sweet Potato Fries

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we are sharing simple, healthy, delicious, and fun recipes for you to try all week!

Sweet Potato Fries [full recipe here]
Serves 8

Ingredients
6 whole Sweet Potatoes, Peeled And Cut Into Thin Sticks
1 stick Salted Butter
2 cloves Garlic, Pressed (optional)
1 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (optional)
1 teaspoon Chili Powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper (optional)
Salt For Sprinkling

Preparation Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Melt the butter. If you want to season the butter, add garlic, seasoned salt, chili powder, and black pepper. Stir with a fork.
3. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes in the butter/seasoning mixture. Arrange on two baking sheets and bake in the oven for 15 to 17 minutes, shaking the pans halfway through, until the fries are sizzling (watch so that the edges don’t burn). Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the pan for 5 minutes. Sprinkle generously with salt.

Note: Sweet potatoes will not be overly crisp, but they should be firm…and, of course, scrumptious!

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Alice Waters’ Greek Salad

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we are sharing simple, healthy, delicious, and fun recipes for you to try all week!

Greek Salad [from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food]
4 servings

Cut out the stem end and cut into wedges: 2 small ripe tomatoes
Season with: Salt
Peel, cut in half lengthwise, and thickly slice: 1 medium cucumber
(If the seeds are large, remove them by scraping a spoon down the center of the halved cucumber.)
Peel and thinly slice: 1/2 small red onion or 5 green onions
Cut in half, core and seed, and slice thin: 1 small sweet red pepper
Rinse (and if you prefer, pit): About 1/4 cup black olives (2-3 olives per person)
Break up or cut into small pieces: 4 ounces feta cheese
Make a vinaigrette. Mix:
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
Whisk in: 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Season the cucumbers and onions with salt. Taste the tomatoes and season again if they need it. Gently toss the vegetables with about three quarters of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more salt or vinegar as needed. The salad can sit for a few minutes to let the flavors blend together. Just before serving, gently toss the salad again and garnish with the cheese and olives. Spoon over the remaining vinaigrette.

Variations:
-Serve the salad over a few leaves of romaine or other lettuce.
-Dried oregano may be substituted for fresh, but use only 1 teaspoon
-A Greek salad is a hearty dish; wish some crusty bread, it could be the main event of a dinner

Enjoy! Let us know if you try this recipe!

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Choose to Eat Healthy

With so much information and so little time to plan and prepare meals, it can seem that eating healthy is nearly an impossible task in today’s world. There are small steps that even the busiest families can take in order to improve your family’s health each day. Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your daily approach to healthy eating:

Aim for Five Every Day

Be intentional about making the delicious crunch of fruits and veggies a significant part of every meal and snack your family enjoys throughout the day.

Choose Your Drinks with Care

A simple way to improve the overall health of your family is to adjust your approach to beverages. Try cutting out drinks with sugar added and focus on drinking more water, 100% fruit juice and milk.

Check the Label

Look at ingredient lists; if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it. By learning to make sense of the information that all food packages are required to provide, you can begin to make choosing healthier foods a little easier.

Control Your Portions

Sure, we all over do it from time to time, but by being careful to consume food portions that are in line with energy output from physical activity, everyone can eat healthier. A good trick is to take 5 deep breaths between bites. This gives your stomach time to tell your brain that you are full, helping to avoid overeating.

For additional tips and strategies for building these and more healthy habits, visit the YMCA’s Healthy Family Home.

To help you celebrate National Nutrition Month, we will post simple, healthy, delicious and fun recipes here all week!

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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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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!