This year’s Summer Camps at YMCA St Paul’s Group are over, and what a summer it has been! Come rain or sun, children aged 4 to 11 have been playing outdoors and chilling indoors at our Summer Camps in Kingston (YMCA Hawker and Basement) and Merton (St. John Fisher RC Primary School).
It’s been great and one of the highlights for the hundreds of children attending the Camps was visiting Hampton Open Air Pool. We met up with staff, volunteers and children from Basement and YMCA Hawker on a sunny day out by the popular pool, for a chat about this year’s Camp adventures.
National Play Day
“Camps this Summer have been great”, says Playwork Manager at YMCA Hawker Eren Deol.
“It’s been packed most of the summer and the last few days are all fully booked”.
“In addition to the trip to Hampton Pool, we’ve done River Dipping and been to the Cinema. For the YMCA Hawker Camp, however, I believe a highlight this summer was the National Play Day which was organised by the Junior Leaders. They set up traditional games and activities, including apple bobbing, face painting and a water balloons. They also organised hot dogs for lunch – it was a great day“, says Eren.
The Junior Leadership programme, a scheme for 14-17 year olds who would like to work with children, works closely with the YMCA LSW Summer camps and when we meet them at Hampton Pool, they have come along to watch the children playing in the water.
Chloe (15) and Ellie (14), two of the Junior Leaders at Hampton Pool this day, are busying themselves with ‘the Shark game’ – making the children scream with delight as they try to escape.
“What I like about being here with the children is that we can see how much fun they are having, and also take part in it ourselves. Everyone is themselves in the water and everyone is playing well together, and that is great”, Ellie says.
Most of the Junior Leaders at the pool are 2nd year returners.
“We see them change a lot from the first year to the second”, says Lesley Wilson, Junior Leadership Programme Co-ordinator. “They are more confident with themselves and around the children”.
Myke Catterall, Children’s Work Co-ordinator, says:
“The second years know each other and are more ready to learn. They also already have a relationship with the children”.
Janice, a year two returner at the Junior Leadership programme, says:
“It was good to come back for a second year, because we knew we would all work well together. Also the weather has been better! It’s been a different experience – we’ve learnt new things, such as working with children with disabilities”.
Volunteering at Basement
The Junior Leadership Programme is a great opportunity for young people who are interested in a career working with children and young people. However, there are other routes available too.
Kate (15) says: “My brother, who now works at YMCA Hawker, did Junior Leaders, but I rather wanted to volunteer at Basement, because I used to go to Camp there myself”.
Her favourite memory from when she used to go to Holiday Camp at Basement was the bike rides in Richmond Park.
“I think partly because we used to go past this tree that had a swing in it that I built with my dad, and I always used to tell the other children at Camp that ‘I made that swing!’. And they would always be like ‘no, you didn’t’, but it was true!” Kate explains.
“Also, Emma and James, the Camp workers, both meant a lot to me. They have always been there for me, and Emma was the one who made me want to become a youth worker”.
As a volunteer at the Basement Holiday Camp, Kate says she “does pretty much the same as the regular staff”, including “looking after the children, making sure they are safe and having fun”.
“If I was offered a job at YMCA LSW I’d definitely take it”, Kate says. “I often go to YMCA Hawker in North Kingston with my friends, it’s such a nice place, and would definitely love to work there one day”.