For new Wheeler YMCA Youth Development Director Derek Destefano, transitioning to his position has been smooth, and he’s eager to welcome the community to the Y’s summer programs.
“We’re really taking pride in the programs coming up. We’re trying to reach not just our own youth, but teens and adults as well. We want our community to see and embrace what we have available,” Destefano said. “I’m really excited about these programs and different ideas the team has had. We want the community to know we’re here for them.”
From June 14 to Aug. 27, the Y will host 11 sessions of Camp Wheeler spanning 3 to 4 days each for youngsters age 4 to 12 and 13 to 14. Campers will participate in activities such as swimming, archery and field games.
In addition to the camp program, during the summer, the YMCA will hold other activities for youngsters throughout the week. Wednesdays will have indoor archery and teen co-ed volleyball. Thursdays, there will be “Sports of All Sports” sessions, and Fridays will feature archery and teen night basketball.
Weekends will be busy, too, with t-ball and co-ed basketball clinics being offered.
“We want to promote a healthy lifestyle and positive mindset with everything the Y is offering. We’re in the community and want to help,” Destefano said. “We want to get members of the community back inside our YMCA branch, get them involved, and really create something special.”
When it comes to safety in the time of COVID-19, Destefano said the measures the Y takes go “above and beyond.”
“We’re constantly following OEC guidelines and state mandates, but also have our own YMCA guidelines. If something changes, we’ll take a look at our guidelines and say ‘okay, well this might have changed, but we still feel safe doing it this way,’” he said. “For example, we’ve limited kids coming in and playing free-for-all basketball, because we want to create a safe environment.”
Destefano added, “We’ve scheduled times for things like the pool and hot tub times to create windows for sanitizing necessary areas, especially with gym space. We want to make sure there’s enough time, especially with indoor settings, to properly sanitize and maintain our capacity limits, and keep social distancing measures in place.”
Destefano said the Plainville YMCA’s safety protocols are reminiscent of the measures implemented at the YMCA in Meridan, where he worked last summer.
“Cars dropping off campers came into the parking lot, who had their temperatures checked, were signed in and taken to their group. They did activities together within that group throughout the day,” he explained. “Our counselors wore masks and, at the same time, every group was equipped with enough supplies to clean in between activities — wiping down equipment, washing hands and doing any of those little extra steps. These are all methods practiced at my location last summer that are in place here at Plainville. We’ve gotten down to a pretty good system.”
Registration for Wheeler YMCA summer programs is open from April 15 to May 23. Visit wheelerymca.org for more information.