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Ashland - Local Town Pages

For any kid who wants to enjoy their summer: MetroWest YMCA Camps

MetroWest YMCA summer camp options include traditional outdoors activities as well as specialties like magic or ceramics


By Linda Chuss

There is an option for everyone at the MetroWest YMCA summer camps. With six locations in three towns, and a wide selection of camp programs ranging from more traditional swimming and games to horseback riding to moviemaking, any child can find something of interest. Even more than that, the environment the MetroWest YMCA creates is one where every child fits in while also growing through new experiences.

“We offer a place where a kid can be themselves,” said Stephan Lockney, Associate Executive Director of Camping Services. “You won’t be in a clique like might be the case in other settings. Here, you’ll be immersed with kids from all backgrounds and circumstances. Our camp atmosphere helps you feel comfortable and develop independence, so ‘you can do you’. 

“For example, the day might start with songs about frogs or bubble gum. Because they’re silly, no one judges a kid’s musical talent; it’s about having fun. Through that, learning resiliency is heightened. Then when it’s time for something completely new, like archery, a kid is not afraid to take that first shot and miss. And miss again and again. And learn over time, with practice and asserting their will in that supportive environment. And they will celebrate their accomplishments, like their first bullseye.”

Lockney added, “What’s also special is the support among peers, not just from the counselors. Fellow campers will advise each other: ‘Don’t worry, try this, do that instead.’ They help one another develop, guided by staff.”

In that space, campers demonstrate an amazing degree of empathy. Lockney provided a poignant example. “Last summer, we had a non-verbal camper in our Seniors Unit. The staff did a great job integrating this camper into their group as they were trained to do. The truly amazing part is how the other campers rallied around and took care of this camper throughout the summer. Campers learn to respect differences while having fun together, nurturing friendships.”

He cited one of his favorite comments from a parent: “They’re off their phones at camp, but you will find no better connection.” Lockney said that being active all day in an outdoor location, away from screens and connecting with nature, fosters lifelong bonds. He has worked in camping programs for over thirty years and said it reminds him of when he played in the woods with other kids as a child and developed lasting friendships.”

Whether a child attends a more traditional or specialty camp like cooking or leadership or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and music), one aspect every YMCA summer program includes is swimming and water safety skills. “Parents want swim lessons for their children and trust us for that because it’s been a staple of the YMCA for a long time,” Lockney explained.

Acquiring swimming skills as well as social and emotional skills will benefit campers for the rest of their lifetimes. And they gain the skills nearly effortlessly, while having fun. One grandparent provided this feedback: “Our granddaughter had a very positive camp experience. So much that, had she been given the choice of camp or attending our annual vacation, she would have picked camp. Well done, staff and leadership!”

The MetroWest YMCA offers summer camp programs at the Hopkinton outdoor facility for children from age three through tenth grade, with bus transportation available throughout the region. Four camps in Framingham provide programs for children starting at age four through eighth graders, with options such as Ninja sports and summer learning camps. Natick offers a STEAM camp for children entering grades one through six.

For more information or to register, see or call (508) 435-9345.