Berlin Eyes Summer Program Growth

BERLIN — The Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) Berlin summer camp, while not pulling in the number of participants yet that organizers would like to see, is on the right track to growing into the kind of program Berlin needs, according to town officials.

“The bones are there,” said Councilwoman Lisa Hall. “We just need to tweak them.”

Hall brought up the status of the WYFCS summer program at Monday’s Mayor and Council meeting. Having a granddaughter in the camp, Hall praised the efforts of organizers but pointed out that she would like to see attendance get a boost.

Mayor Gee Williams agreed that there is a lot of room for more kids in the program, but pointed out that it was only founded just over a year ago and will need time to hit its stride.

“I don’t see this as one of those things where you can turn a switch and it goes to its full potential,” he said. “Our hope is that it grows.”

WYFCS Youth Project Coordinator Melanie Windsor confirmed that the program is hoping to gain some more kids throughout this summer, but stressed that the camp so far has not been poorly attended.

“We have close to 30 kids registered now and still getting forms every day,” she said.

One thing that may be affecting the program’s numbers, admitted Windsor, is having to compete with Worcester County public school’s popular summer academies. However, the academies wrapped up this week, leaving Windsor expecting a boost from kids looking for new activities during the summer.

Hall also was optimistic about an increase in participants once school summer academies finish. But for the long-term, she would like to see some evolution in the WYFCS program, specifically with the length of time that kids can participate during the day.

“Hopefully next year they will provide a day care camp,” said Hall.

It can be difficult for parents to shuttle kids back and forth during the day for one- or two-hour activities, especially if those parents work traditional hours, she added. Having multiple kids of different ages further complicates things, said Hall.

“So if I had three children in these three age categories I’d spend all day running them back and forth,” she said.

Windsor said that her main goal is to become a foundation in Berlin where a kid can enter the program at age three and stick with it every year until age 11.