By Theresa Evans
When students are headed off campus for the summer, smaller replacements will begin to fill their seats.
Camp YMCA at Rider University will take place from June 26 through August 25 for children ages 5 ½ to 13, according to the YMCA’s press release.
The partnership between Rider and the Trenton YMCA developed when Samuel Frisby, CEO of the Trenton YMCA, reached out with the idea for a day camp, Michael Reca, vice president for facilities and university operations, said.
“We have had previous conversations about possibly starting a daycare here or other partnerships we could do, so we’re always plugging away at trying to find ways to make revenue for the institution, get college exposure, and open our services to our community,” said Reca. “A summer day camp fit the bill very well because for years, we ran [a camp] in partner with the Jewish community center. Their summer day camp was on our campus, so we have a lot of experience.”
The camp will have access to campus amenities including the pool, outdoor areas and select buildings for indoor activities, Reca said. Some of the athletic coaches have volunteered their time and athletes’ assistance.
“I think it exposes kids to a campus and to a college that they would not normally be exposed to,” said Reca. “It also helps us in our community outreach. We’re not just the Rider community. We’re the Lawrence community; we’re the Mercer County community, so it also broadens our horizons in terms of how we interact outside of our walls. It gives us the opportunity to meet a whole new set of people and to showcase some of our programs and facilities. So, it’s a win-win for both organizations.”
Reca stresses that the kids should constantly be engaged in activities, especially if it helps them explore fun beyond their comfort zones.
“Let’s just say Tuesday is swimming mechanics,” said Reca. “So our swim coaches and some of our athletes will get into the water with the kids and teach them proper swimming techniques and how to tread water. For the kids that can’t swim, they’ll have the opportunity to learn. Kevin Baggett, and Lynn Milligan, our men’s and women’s basketball coaches, have already agreed that they would have a basketball day.”
There will also be an opportunity for Rider faculty and staff to get involved.
“The camp is open to children of Rider faculty and staff,” said university spokesperson Kristine Brown.
Reca is also looking forward to the staff and faculty involvement.
“I know our faculty and staff are very excited about having the opportunity to bring their kids to work. Throw them out there and let them be part of the day camp to have a great day and then go home with them,” said Reca. “I know several faculty and staff who have already gone to the website and signed their kids up.”
Camp YMCA at Rider University is also a potential summer job for students, according to Reca.
“Everything is through the YMCA,” he said. “Now, if they want to hire Rider students, please, go ahead. We encourage that. So that’s an opportunity for some of our students, who are going to be here in the summer, in addition to the other jobs on campus that are through Rider. This isn’t through Rider, but another opportunity here.”
According to the YMCA press release, the camp is being offered to Mercer County families for only $225 per week.
“Families in our community need an affordable option for their kids during the summer months,” Frisby said in a press release. “Our mission at the Trenton YMCA is to fill that need. By partnering with Rider, we will provide youth with a summer full of experiences that will establish a foundation for a lifetime of success.”
Reca recognizes the academic role of the university as a unique aspect of the camp.
“You know, there are a lot of camps out there, and every camp has its own nuance and what they like to highlight,” said Reca. “I think this will have a bit more of an academic feel to it because it’s on a college campus. The exposure that they’re gonna get here from our coaches, from our facilities, from what we have to offer, I think it’s going to be much different than when you go to a specific location for a different kind of camp. This is going to be a broad-based experience. It’s going to touch a lot of different things.
“This is all part of the president’s philosophy, too, about community outreach. President Dell’Omo is a big proponent of getting the Rider name and brand out there. He encourages these types of partnerships. Our previous president did as well, but Greg is a big proponent of this and it was an easy sell. I came to him and said, ‘Hey, the YMCA contacted me and said summer camp’ and he said, ‘When do they start? It’s a great thing. Let’s do this.’ That kind of energy and that kind of support from the administration, from the leadership of the institution is also very helpful in meshing this together.”
For more information, visit yridercamp.org.