Fun in the sun at Arrowhead

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A 55-acre site off Kenyon Road may be the most popular place in Suffolk for kids this summer.

The Suffolk Family YMCA started “Summer Camp at the Y” at Camp Arrowhead on June 19. The camp continues through Aug. 25. Approximately 150 children ages 5 to 14 practice teamwork each camp day, while building friendships and facing new challenges, according to Camp Arrowhead operations director Tiffany Herron.

“It’s designed to develop friendships and experiences that our campers wouldn’t get otherwise,” she said.

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Campers are organized into groups for ages 5 to 12 and ages 11 to 14. The younger campers have activities based on themes that change weekly, whether it’s extreme sports or science experiments. The older group focuses on activities that develop interpersonal and leadership skills.

Joshua Dalrymple, 10, Leila Ertekin, 9, Ava Anderson, 10, and Mary Eley, 11 pose for a picture in front of the 50-foot tall Alpine climbing tower on Tuesday at YMCA Camp Arrowhead on Kenyon Road.

About 40 counselors supervise campers during the eight-hour sessions Monday through Friday. They provide lessons and exercises that keep the youngsters learning and reflecting on their experiences during the summer.

“It’s to have them reflect on their character and to have them listen and pay attention,” site director Kevin Shepard said.

Teamwork is encouraged on the basketball court and during relay races and in the various other team activities.

“There’s some arguing at first, but they learn to work through it to make sure their team wins,” Shepard said.

Campers have practiced their aim at the archery range and enjoyed trips to Davis Lakes. They’ve even tried running, jumping, and dodging in a fenced-in “ga-ga pit,” where the object of the game is to strike a ball and hit other players on or below their knees.

“It’s like dodgeball, but you hit it with your hands,” said 10-year-old Ben Griffin.

Ben is one of the many campers registered for all 10 weeks of camp. He has enjoyed making new friends all the exciting activities that have kept him active.

“I feel great,” he said. “We get a lot of exercise around here. It makes my body feel better.”

Counselor Audrey Rowlinds said she has enjoyed watching campers like Ben become more confident in their skills and more eager to take on new challenges.

“That’s really cool, seeing them overcome their fears like that,” she said.

One of the more eye-catching challenges at the camp is the 50-foot tall alpine climbing tower. Campers are fitted with proper safety harnesses and rope, and they climb the tower under the supervision of counselors.

“I think it’s really cool,” 11-year-old Mary Eley said. “The height makes me want to climb it even more, just to get to the top.”