Berlin Hears Youth Camp Update

BERLIN — Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) delivered an update on the town-sponsored Berlin Youth Camp this week.

The program has seen significant growth since it began in 2011 and WYFCS revealed that the community is making a greater investment into the camp this summer. The Mayor and Council had nothing but praise for the “evolving” program and renewed the roughly $24,000 contract for the youth camp.

Since the Berlin Youth Camp began in 2011, WYFCS has been steadily adding to the program, most notably by bringing in additional community partners. Youth Camp Coordinator Melanie Windsor told the council Monday that Assateague Island has stepped up support of the program this summer and will be the site of multiple events.

“We had a kickoff picnic at Assateague [last] Thursday, and this is also worth mentioning, we got a little over a $5,000 grant from Assateague from the national trust,” she said. “They contracted us … to participate in some of their programing but also to provide some additional programs that we are offering like yoga mats for all of the kids.”

Assateague will be funding two parties on the beach for the youth camp, both at the beginning and end of the summer among other events. There will also be yoga on the beach for the campers, which fits with WYFCS’ strategy of getting kids outside and active. The kickoff beach party was well-attended, despite some rainy weather, added Windsor, and drew out not just kids but several families.

A focus on finding things for entire families to do is a top priority for the camp. During the day, the focus will be on activities for kids with more family programs at night. The goal is to find ways to have everyone interact together.

“Some special partnerships this year, 4-H is going to be offering a cooking with the family activity where the kids will cook a meal,” said Windsor, “and then we’ll actually have all of the families come in and eat it in our Ray community building.”

Besides the new programs and partnerships, the Berlin Youth Club again took part in several town events, including the Coolest Small Town party this spring. WYFCS raised about $600 just from doing face painting during that party. While not related to the youth camp, Windsor noted the community has been more generous than ever this year. The recent pirate party, which is the major annual fundraiser for WYFCS’ CASA branch, brought in nearly double last year’s total.

“Last year we made about $18,000. This year we made about $30,000,” Windsor said. “It just blew us away. It was fantastic.”

It’s all indicative of how much the area has gotten behind WYFCS and by extension the youth camp.

“We just want to show to you that the Berlin Youth Camp is more than what the town gets,” said Steve Taylor, executive director for WYFCS. “Worcester Youth and Family is kicking in almost $23,000. We thought it was important to mention that. It’s not just coming from the town. There are other supporters as well.”

The youth camp sets a positive example for all involved, according to Mayor Gee Williams, and it’s great to see that others in the community are willing to help the town support the program which he believes is valuable for helping kids develop character. While the camp includes a lot of fun activities, Windsor noted that the children also contributed to multiple charitable causes throughout the year like developing chemotherapy care packages for Women Supporting Women.

“I’m very pleased that since the very beginning of this partnership, one of the key things that you’re cultivated is the idea of community service,” said the mayor.

The council voted unanimously to extend the contract for the Berlin Youth Camp another year at a cost of $24,000 plus any approved expenses.