A favorite gathering place in Augusta for people of all ages is the Kennebec Valley YMCA at 31 Union Street. From infants to seniors, the YMCA offers something for everyone.

“To provide the community with an inspirational environment for the enrichment of all people, through social, recreational and learning activities. Caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility are the basis for all that we do” is the stated mission of KV YMCA.

While the funding for general operations of the YMCA is generated through membership and program fees, CEO Tom Warren said recently that about 20 percent of their revenue is generated through their fundraising efforts including the Strong Kids Annual Campaign currently underway.

Warren said that the annual fundraising campaign provides money for their Open Doors Financial Aid Program, which makes it possible for children, adults and families to participate in programs that they couldn’t otherwise afford. He said that 100 percent of the money donated through the Strong Kids Annual Campaign is used for program and membership scholarships. Certain donations to the campaign can be designated for specific programs important to the donor.

“Last year our goal was $240,000 and we exceeded that,” he said. “This year we raised our goal to $260,000 to cover increasing needs for financial assistance.”

According to Warren, more than 1,500 community members received scholarships through KV YMCA’s Strong Kids Annual Campaign last year and the entire board and the staff contribute because they believe that everyone in the community should be able to participate in programs.

“The board and staff believe in the Y’s mission to strengthen the foundations of our community and that means everyone in our community,” said Warren. “One hundred percent of the board contributes to the Strong Kids Annual Campaign and our staff is also very supportive of the campaign. Sometimes people fall on hard times and need a hand up. It is the generosity of our donors that provides our Y with the ability to provide that.”

Marketing and Development Director Andrea Lowell also said that the scholarship program is critical because it provides opportunities that would otherwise be unattainable to some people. She said that many adults and children have been able to participate in programs because of scholarships.

One child, among the hundreds who have benefited from the Open Doors Financial Aid Program at KV YMCA, is three-year old Lilly-Zoe who has a rare medical condition that affects her coordination, balance, muscle tone, and speech development. Her mother Tabitha Mc Clay said that Lilly-Zoe’s participation in YMCA classes have made a big difference in her health and development.

“My little girl may be 1 in 800,000 statistically but all she wants is to be like every other child and she is proving it,” said Mc Clay. “The KV YMCA’s swim and music classes have given that to her. The swim class and movement class are good for her fine and gross motor skills. The music and movement class is amazing for her speech development. She loves going.Thank you for providing programs that can allow this to happen.”

Summer Programs
KV YMCA has a full slate of activities planned for this summer. Camp KV, a state-licensed camp located on 70 acres of beautiful preserved land on Maranacook Lake in Readfield will be open for day campers on Monday, June 25. Children will have the opportunity to participate in traditional camp activities such as swimming, boating, arts and crafts, nature hikes, field sports, and archery.

Wacky Wednesdays is a new Camp KV tradition that will encourage children and staff to be creative and “wacky.” Each week there will be a different theme and every child who comes to camp dressed according to that week’s theme will have a chance to win a prize.  Some of the themes planned are superheroes, party in the U.S.A., barnyard bash, color wars and Hawaiian.

Kindergarten Camp
For the first time this year, KV YMCA will be offering Kindergarten Camp to introduce first-time campers to the program.  The Kindergarten Camp will follow the same KV schedule and will allow children to participate in swimming, sports, hiking, arts and crafts and more.

Kindergarten Camp is limited to 10 spots per session and is available for kids entering kindergarten this fall.
For those interested in learning more about Camp KV, there will be an open house on Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. There will be an opportunity to take a tour of the lakeside camp facility, meet the camp staff and participate in activities such as archery, arts and crafts, boating and swimming.

CIT Program
Another program offered this summer is Counselor in Training (CIT) for teens entering grades 9 and 10. This program will give teens an opportunity to build skills that will help them both in the classroom and the workplace. The CIT program is four weeks long and will be held during sessions two through five. CIT participants will receive training in facilitating group activities as well as American Red Cross CPR/First Aid training. They will also learn outdoorsman and leadership skills, and be involved in Kindergarten Camp. Participants are required to attend all four weeks of training. Applications for this program can be obtained by emailing the camp director at [email protected]

Julia Clukey Camp for Girls
The Julia Clukey Camp for Girls will be held June 18-22 this year. There will be traditional camp activities including swimming, boating, arts and crafts, nature hikes, field sports and archery.

The girls will also have the opportunity to spend time with Olympian Julia Clukey. The annual family campfire and fireworks show will take place on Thursday, June 21 followed by an overnight campout.

Splash N’ Dash (425 Swim, 5 k Run)
KV YMCA will host its first Splash N’ Dash on Saturday, August 11. The Splash N’ Dash, pictured above right, will consist of a 425-yard swim in the competition pool and a 5k run along the Kennebec River Trail to Maine Housing Authority and back through Capitol Park, ending at KV YMCA.

The Splash N’ Dash is designed for beginners as young as ten years old up to the elite athlete.

Teams of two are welcome. This event will replace the annual Capital Y Tri. Early bird registrants will receive a Splash N’ Dash jersey. Early registration is $48 per person or $85 per relay team. After May 31 the cost will be $58 per person and $95 per relay team. Register online at kvymca.com or stop by the membership services desk to reserve a space. Registration deadline is July 23. For more information, call KV YMCA at 622-9622 or email [email protected]