Franklin Township YMCA Launches Camp SOAR With Support From Somerset County

Pictured left to right – Branch Executive Director Ben Green, President and CEO David M. Carcieri along with Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson and Commissioner Deputy Director Melonie Marano celebrate the Camp SOAR partnership with Greater Somerset County YMCA. (Photo: Greater Somerset County YMCA).

Submitted by Franklin Township YMCA.

Franklin Township YMCA, a branch of Greater Somerset County YMCA, announced the launch of a new summer camp program called Camp SOAR, which has financial support from Somerset County and is in partnership with Somerset County Parks Commission.

The five-week summer camp will be held at Colonial Park in Franklin Township from July 11 – August 12, 2022.

Camp SOAR intends to provide a Summer of Outdoor Adventure and Recreation to children from under-resourced families in the township, as well as in Bound Brook, South Bound Brook and Manville, who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The main source of program funding is a grant from Somerset County, which is made available through the American Rescue Plan.

Additionally, the Y is partnering with Somerset County Parks Commission to host the camp at Colonial Park, which offers a versatile setting for a myriad of enriching summer camp activities.

“Summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to be kids, and to unleash the adventure in their hearts,” said David M. Carcieri, president and CEO of Greater Somerset County YMCA. “The pandemic has had so many detrimental effects on our children…increased screen time, social isolation, and learning loss to name a few. Thanks to the financial support of Somerset County and the partnership of Somerset County Parks Commission, the Y’s Camp SOAR will offer children, who otherwise could not afford camp, an experience that builds self-confidence, friendships, memories, and bright futures.”

Camp SOAR will run daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with extended hour opportunities beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. The camp is designed to offer children a robust camp experience that takes advantage of the outdoor opportunities afforded at Colonial Park, as well as other experiences that the Y integrates into all of its camp programs, such as STEM, literacy, arts and crafts, sports, physical activity, team-building, social-emotional learning, and character-building activities.

Additionally, transportation by bus will be available from a central location in each town to bring children to camp in the morning and back at the end of the camp day. Children participating in extended hours will need independent transportation. Monday through Friday, the camp will also provide daily meals for the children.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an especially harmful impact on families of limited financial means, leading to even greater economic insecurity and emotional stress,” said Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “Somerset County is extremely pleased to partner with Greater Somerset County YMCA in providing a summer camp to the children and parents who need it most.”

“Each camp week provides opportunities for 200 children from grades Kindergarten through 6th Grade to enroll,” she said. “There is also a Counselor in Training program for 20 teens in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades to learn valuable job skills while supporting camp counselors and the campers throughout each day.”

“Fresh air, sunshine, and outdoor recreation are just what our children need right now, and we thank both Somerset County Park Commission and Greater Somerset YMCA for making this summer camp possible, using Federal relief funds through the Somerset County Board of Commissioners,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Melonie Marano.

To enroll in Camp SOAR, or the Counselor in Training program, the cost is $10 per child, per day. Interested families should talk with their school counselors to determine eligibility for the camp program. 

Camp SOAR offers new job opportunities for adults as well as college and high school students. For a listing of open positions, visit Greater Somerset County YMCA’s website: gscymca.org/main/why-work-at-the-y.

For more information about Camp SOAR, contact Branch Executive Director, Ben Green at bgreen@gscymca.org or 908-369-0490 x714, or visit gscymca.org/campsoar.

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