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“At the Y we are caring.”

It is their first day of summer camp, and five-year-old twins Axel and Fritz are ready to meet new friends and have a great time at the Y. Enthusiastic camp counselors greet them as they arrive. Within a few minutes, the boys are playing games with fellow campers. At the sound of a whistle, the campers line up by groups to prepare for the Camp Opening. A camp counselor helps Axel and Fritz find and join their groups. The first day of summer camp is off to an amazing start.

After an energizing Camp Opening full of fun camp songs, the boys’ group sets off for their day of adventures. During a healthy eating activity fellow campers, Jocelyn took it upon herself to sit with the boys and translate the activity instructions. At no point during camp did the fact that Axel and Fritz only spoke Spanish hold them back from participating and having a great time. When Jocelyn was asked why she helped the boys, she commented, “At the Y we are caring. So I helped them play the game.”

The Y’s core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility are instilled in our programs to help develop full potential in a positive environment. Jocelyn’s act of kindness demonstrates the core values in action.

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Sample fitness classes, face painting, food trucks, music, and the excitement of our members were the icing on the cake to an amazing Grand Opening for the Mathews Family YMCA. Following the ceremonial ribbon cutting, community leaders and people from all across the county had a chance to explore their new Y. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, visitors were given tours of the new facility to see all the innovative building features and programs that the Y offers. We were honored to see the satisfaction that was given from the new and wheelchair accessible equipment, and a few of our staff joined in the excitement of the pickleball games that flooded the fitnasium.

To continue to make the Y a home for everyone, we will continue to wave joining fees, and members will be able to earn a free month for every person they invite who joins the Y.

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The Mathews County Board of Supervisors took a tour of the new Mathews Family YMCA, getting a first-hand look not only at the colorful walls and bright, open spaces, but also at the safety upgrades the county paid for with grants and county funds.

The facility, on Cricket Hill Road at Hudgins, is nearing completion with a grand opening celebration scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 25.

Read the full article in the Gazette-Journal.

See what the new facility offers.


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This year, over 1,160 youth in the YMCA Summer Camp program enjoyed the annual STEM Fair at the Virginia Air and Space Center. Summer campers not only participated in a wide range of fun and educational activities but many of the campers designed projects to be judged by local community leaders! The campers submitting the projects worked together in groups, developing their project’s design, construction, and budget. It’s inspiring to see meaningful connections being built within the summer camp group!


Summer Camp is just one of the many groups that have formed within our YMCA. In fact, the STEM Fair was made possible by our amazing group of volunteers that annually support the YMCA’s initiatives and community outreach. The Y offers numerous programs and activities that appeal to different interests. Like our summer campers, all members of our community can find a group at the Y. Together, groups can reach their goals and make meaningful connections that last a lifetime!


Special guests judges: Canon, Langley Federal Credit Union, NASA, Old Point National Bank, The Y., Frontier Technologies, Inc., Warhill High School, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, York County School System, 1st Advantage Credit Union, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc., and PropBusta Drone Club.


Activity stations: Canon Virginia, ECPI, Langley Federal Credit Union, Menchville High School Triple Helix, Jefferson Labs, Newport News Shipbuilding Career Pathways and Jamie Auberg Instructional Innovations.


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YMCA campers think on, and off, their feet to solve projects at STEM Fair


HAMPTON – Boat builder Melody Jones was pretty proud of her cargo ship on Thursday.

The bright red USS Caring, as she and her teammates dubbed it, bobbled up and down in the water as industry experts from the likes of Canon and NASA looked on.

The ship, made solely of duct tape, took on no water as metal nut after metal nut was loaded aboard it.

The adults asked the group inportant questions about its construction and purpose.

Of course a cargo ship like the Caring should travel down rivers slower rather than faster, Melody said, “so stuff doesn’t fall off.”

Melody was one of more than 1,300 summer campers from across more than a dozen Peninsula YMCA branches (from the Northern Neck to Isle of Wight County) who flooded the Virginia Air & Space Center Thursday for the YMCA’s fifth annual STEM Fair, focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.

The boat challenge was a culmination of weeks of STEM-based projects held at each branch this summer. Younger grades were tasked with making one out of duct tape to hold a heavy load, while the upper grades had a few supplies, such as aluminum foil and cork, to design a barge to transport oysters from Lancaster County to Smithfield. For those who weren’t being judged as finalists in the challenges, there wa still plenty to do. Frintier, The Williamsburg Drone Club and Newport News Shipbuilding were among the many local groups that set up activities and informational stands around STEM concepts.

“So they get the opportunity not only to do activities and learn, but they’re interacting with people who are in career fields,” said Stacia Roeth, chief operating officer of the Peninsula YMCA. “So maybe it will spark some thought somewhere along the say down the road, that a camper says, ‘I want to be a scientist, (or) I want to be an engineer, (or) I want to design boats that are going to go down the river.’ This is a place where they can spark that thought.”

A big hit of the day was an exercise in physics thanks to Canon Virginia.

Campers used paper and other supplies to make small “rockets” that were launched using some PVC piping and plastic bottles.

They enthusiastically launched their vehicles by jumping atop the bottles and watching their paths.

Thomas Wheeless, a mechanical engineer, said he even noticed one camper testing her rocket five times on a smaller launchpad, noting that she would methodically compare those results against ones from the bigger bottle.

Allyson Goard, 7, also launched her rocket over and over again before playing with magnetic tiles to build new structures alongside Kynedi Barnes, 7.

They both said they learned about science, which “can be really difficult,” Kynedi said.

But it’s worth it, Allyson added.

“Learning about these planes and stuff,” she said, looking around the displays hanging in the center, “is really fun.”

Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951.


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The Teen Leaders’ Club recently returned from the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly held in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. This annual assembly gives the Teen Leaders’ Club an opportunity to meet other youth from YMCA’s all over the country! Youth attending the assembly participate in a wide range of activities that improve leadership skills through the YMCA’s core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. The meaningful connections, fun activities, and beautiful mountain scenery are sure to make this experience unforgettable!

How can one participate in the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly? In order to participate in this assembly, the youth must be a part of the Teen Leaders’ Club at the YMCA. The Teen Leaders’ Club is an exciting group that assists the community and develops personal leadership skills. Leaders stay fit throughout the club season from their fitness meetings, and they will continually improve their leadership skills through volunteering and meetings focused around the core values of the YMCA. We believe that growth opportunities like this help our youth achieve more!

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School’s out for summer! Yay! But wait . . . kids are used to being constantly busy during the school year and we sometimes run out of ideas at home. We thought you might like some easy summer craft projects to keep on hand for those moments when kids need an activity and you need an idea. Our suggestion . . . go on an excursion with your kids to pick up all the items listed below you don’t already have in your craft box. Organize the items into each summer craft project and store them where you can easily pull them out at a moment’s notice.

small bottles with designs applied to them to look like stained glassStained Glass Vase  – Using some clear glass, tissue paper, and mod podge we are going to create our own “stained glass.”

  • two or three colors of tissue paper
  • mod podge gloss
  • clear glass container that will make a nice vase

1. Use scissors to cut pieces of tissue paper in whatever colors you choose. They can be geometric shapes, hearts, or even pieces torn by hand. Feel free to get creative!

2. Paint a little mod podge on the glass first then place the tissue on the glass, and then follow up with a thin coat of mod podge. That way, you’ll get a great stained glass effect. Follow all along the glass, cover completely, or make a pattern. Whatever look you are going for is perfect.

3. If you aren’t covering the entire glass with tissue paper, go ahead and spread a thin coat of mod podge all over the glass anyway—even in the empty spaces.

In the light the glass will catch the colors just right and you will have your own stained glass piece for your collection.

Learn more about stained glass.

home made sun catchers made from birthday party plates, and cut flowers and leavesNature Collage Suncatcher – gather flowers and foliage from a nature walk in your yard, a trip to the park, or from your vacation to the beach, mountains, or grandma’s house to create these beautiful eye-catching collages. Hang them in your child’s window as a reminder of the fun they had on their trip.

  • Left-over paper plates of any color
  • Clear contact paper
  • flowers, leaves, stems
  • String, fishing line, or ribbon to hang

1. Make the frame for the suncatcher by cutting out the center of the plate

2. Use the center piece you cut out in step 1. to help with the size of contact paper. Cut a square of contact paper just larger than the center of the plate. Trim down the corners to make sure they don’t stick out past the plate edges and then stick it to the back of the paper plate so the sticky side of the contact paper is up when the plate is set on a table.

3. Have your child place their nature items to the contact paper, inside the paper plate frame. They can use petals and bits of leaves instead of the whole flower if they want. The contact paper isn’t too sticky so pieces can be removed to adjust the design.

4. Poke a hole in the center of the plate edge so you can thread in the ribbon to hang the suncatcher

Idea found at Hands On As We Grow

Of course, the YMCA offers lots of activities for kids through the summer. We’re here to help you and your child have the best summer ever!

Summer Camp – choose from traditional day camp, sleep over camp for kids 8 and above, and specialty camps that meet kids where their interests lie.

Swimming – swimming with your kids is a fun way to spend quality time playing with your child. Summer is a good time to help your child gain skill and safety in the water with YMCA swim lessons or swim team.

Ask at your Y for more family programs offered during the summer.

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Building a summer camp around learning and youth development is an award in itself. However, the Victory Family YMCA recently had the honor of receiving an award for The Best Summer Camp by Coastal Virginia Magazine. This award not only highlights the passionate staff members of our summer camps, but it also highlights the careful planning of summer camp curriculums to enrich the children of surrounding communities.

We’ve hopped the gap of summer learning loss, provided a safe space for children while their parents are at work, and offered financial assistance to those who qualify. We don’t plan on stopping there! The YMCA continues to strive toward giving children the best summer ever by increasing the diversity of learning through STEM, encouraging a sense of purpose through our character values, and allowing children to make summer their own with a wide range of activities, and specialty camps.

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Haley fell in love with the YMCA her first day of summer camp. She enjoyed the interaction with her camp counselors, the games, swimming, crafts and field trips.

The following summer, Haley’s mom experienced some financial obstacles. She was not able to afford to keep Haley in camp, and needed a safe place for Haley to go while she was at work. A close friend told her that the Y offers financial assistance. It was a great relief when the YMCA was able to provide a partial scholarship that allowed Haley to attend camp.

A couple years later, the Y asked Haley to be a volunteer Junior Counselor. The opportunity thrilled her! She has thrived as a Junior Counselor, showing up every day to greet parents and children in the morning and assisting counselors with games and camp setup.

Haley was the youngest member of the YMCA’s Annual Campaign team. She went throughout her community sharing her Y story and receiving 44 monetary gifts, more than any other campaigner! The Y gave Haley a great place to go, and she also develop into a civic-minded young lady who has discovered she loves helping young children and giving back to her community.

Summer Camp at the Y is a great place for children to be involved, make friends, learn and have fun. Find out more about Summer Camp at your YMCA and register today!

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The YMCA Annual Meeting is a time of celebration for all of the passionate individuals that make our Y’s so impactful. And this year the teens of 7GI did what they do best…they improved the program. These 7th graders introduced us to a variety of their robotic friends, all created and developed within the 7GI: robotics program.

The 7GI robotics programs demonstrates the monumental accomplishments that can begin with a group of talented individuals, and a spark of inspiration. The Northern Neck Family YMCA proudly hosts these youth to learn industry standard robotic skills including: C++ programming, electrical circuit theory, OSEPP Block programming, and the necessary mathematical skills to understand robotics.

Their demonstration not only highlighted the intellectual accomplishments of the team, but also the sense of community offered by the safe learning environment. It was a delight to meet the robotic friends created by the 7GI team, and we can only imagine how proud the parents of the youth are, knowing their children are dedicating their time to the skills they love!

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