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YMCA offers an array of summer camps
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A group of summer tennis campers practice with Robert Carlbo, Professional Tennis Registry Professional of the Year for 2013. Tennis camp is designed to help foster an interest in tennis. It teaches the basic, intermediate and advanced skills of the sport. Other specialty camps at the branch include a cooking camp and fashion camp, where children explore their creative abilities and talents.
PALM HARBOR – Each year, students look forward to the start of summer break. This year it started June 4.

While some students may have plans in place to celebrate the summer hiatus, others are left wondering what to do with the available free time.

For single- or two-parent working families, the 10-week intermission leaves parents with the need to find other means of entertainment and supervision for their children during working hours.

Summer camp youth programs offered by the Greater Palm Harbor Branch YMCA and North Pinellas Branch YMCA can bridge the gap between a summer filled with boredom versus one filled with a variety of activities.

“We’re excited about our camp opportunities and options this summer,” said Randy Nilsson, who is the executive director for the Greater Palm Harbor Branch YMCA. “We’re looking forward to having a lot of returning campers as well as new campers.”

Most YMCA camp programs at both branches started June 9 and end Aug. 15. The camps end just in time for the reopening of Pinellas County Schools on Aug. 18.

Some specialty camps such as flag football, soccer and junior lifeguard begin later in the season or on different dates. Campers have the option of choosing a different camp each week. They also can attend half-day specialty camps or add on other activities like swimming lessons.

“There are different options for them so it’s not monotonous,” Nilsson said. “It makes coming to camp more fun.”

Camps are designed to meet the needs of youth ages 5 to 17. The Adventure Camp for Rookies, ages 5 to 7, is held at the Greater Palm Harbor Branch YMCA and brings in more campers than any of the other camps.

“We actually fill up the camp every week, except for the last week of summer when people are getting ready to go back to school or on vacation,” Nilsson said. “From the first week to the ninth week, we have at least 50 kids each week.”

The Triathlon Camp is new this summer at the branch. It’s designed for parents whose children are running their first triathlon or need more physical exertion than the other camps offer. So far this year, the camp has filled up more quickly than any of the others due to the need for a camp of its type and uniqueness.

Nilsson said that some of the specialty camps are already booked to capacity at the Greater Palm Harbor Branch. She said that overall 30 percent of the summer camps are booked for the season.

“Some of the things that are great about our camps and our facility are that we have a big family water slide, diving board, playground and a number of basketball courts,” Nilsson said.

For the past couple of years, parents have waited until the last possible moment in selecting and enrolling their children in a summer camp due to indecision or finances. Like a church or any other charity, the Y works with individuals and families in need of financial assistance.

The Greater Palm Harbor Branch YMCA is located at 1600 16th St. For more information, call 787-9622.

The North Pinellas Branch YMCA is located at 4550 Village Center Drive, within the Lansbrook community of East Lake. For more information, call 772-9622.
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