YMCA Camp Soar Returns For Second Year

Submitted by the Somerset County Board of County Commissioners.

The Somerset County Board of Commissioners is utilizing American Rescue Plan funds to support a second year of Franklin Township YMCA’s Camp SOAR at Colonial Park for under-resourced children from Bound Brook, Manville, Franklin, and South Bound Brook. The Commissioners agreed to fund an additional three weeks in 2023 to extend the Camp SOAR program from five to eight weeks, including before- and after-care hours to help working parents through the summer.

“Of all the projects we’ve funded through the American Rescue Plan, the YMCA’s Camp SOAR is one of the most impactful in the lives of children, and the most heart-lifting for me,” said Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Robinson. “Seeing the campers singing camp tunes, running through the spray park, studying science and nature and all the other great summer camp activities is an absolutely joyful experience.”

Camp SOAR will provide a Summer of Outdoor Adventure and Recreation five days a week from Monday, July 3 to Friday, August 25 for area children entering kindergarten to ninth grade. Regular camp hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $50 per week, and two-hour windows of before- and after-care is available for an additional $5 weekly. Busing is provided for regular camp hours, and meals are provided on camp days. Registration and more information is available atwww.gscymca.org/camp-soar/.

“We are thrilled to partner, once again, with the Somerset County Commissioners on this transformational summer camp program,” said David M. Carcieri, president and CEO of Greater Somerset County YMCA. “Through Camp SOAR, we are proud to support families who, otherwise, could not afford camp by providing their children with an experience that builds self-confidence, friendships, memories, and bright futures.”

In its inaugural year, 2022, Camp SOAR provided five weeks of day camp for 125 children from the four municipalities, including 10 Counselors in Training. More than two thirds of the participants had never been to summer camp before, and 97 percent of families expressed an interest in registering for the program again.

“After Camp SOAR’s astounding success last year, the County and Park Commission are thrilled to partner with the YMCA for another year of summer camp fun,” said Somerset County Commissioner Paul Drake, liaison to the Park Commission. “Not only do the campers get a great experience, but expanding to eight weeks makes it even easier for parents to balance work and childcare while school is out of session over the summer months.”

Studies show that summer camp helps prevent a slide in academics among campers during summer months, and provide families with a safe, enriching environment for children while parents are at work. To accomplish these goals, Camp SOAR integrates established YMCA camp programs such as STEM, literacy, arts and crafts, sports, physical activity, team-building, social-emotional learning, and character-building activities. The YMCA operates Camp SOAR in partnership with Somerset County Parks Commission, and campers have access to Colonial Park amenities such as the playgrounds, athletic fields, and spray park.

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