School’s out for the summer! It’s time to trade the books and calculators for something so much more fun, a baseball glove and bat or a cool dip in the pool. If you follow that up with a cool glass of lemonade, you have the formula for a successful vacation.

So, what are you and the kids going to do this summer vacation? Have you considered visiting your local YMCA? Like the song says, “It’s fun to stay at the YMCA!” I don’t know about “stay” but it certainly is fun to play there.

Conveniently located at 4411 South Himes Avenue. Tampa, FL 33611, this recently updated family facility offers something for everyone, not just the kiddos! With over 10,000 local members, you better believe you too can find something to love at the South Tampa YMCA.

After 36 years of giving back to its community, the South Tampa Family YMCA completed a massive $4.36 million renovation in 2016. “The renovations started in September 2015 with the opening of the state-of-the-art Carol Kennedy Aquatic Center,” says Communications Director Lalita Llerena. “The center includes an Olympic size temperature-controlled eight-lane lap pool, a warm water pool and a zero-depth entry family pool complete with a two-story water slide, spray fountains and a nearby pirate ship playground.” I don’t know about you, but if that alone isn’t enough to capture your attention wait until you learn about all their other incredible family-friendly amenities and programs.

Summer Camps 2018

Your local YMCA is your one stop shop for an amazing summer camp experience. “Summer is a very busy time of the year for us. We have over 220 campers on site (per week) learning how to swim, creating slime for science projects or having fun making arts and crafts and so much more,” says Center Executive Scott Wickert. For Scott, making sure your kids are safe while learning and having fun is his top priority. “It’s all about making connections and building friendships in a completely safe and nurturing environment,” says Scott. “We take our members’ confidence seriously as they entrust their child with us.”

Many of these summer camps are already full BUT there are still some specific weeks and programs that have some limited availability. “We get booked really fast, so it’s always better to act sooner rather than later,” says Scott, who encourages parents of potential campers to sign up online and learn more about what options are still available. If you don’t have internet access, Scott says stopping by their South Tampa location to sign up would be the second best option.

Youth Development and Teen Programs

The Y is the starting point for many kids to learn about becoming and staying active, and developing healthy habits that they can carry with them throughout their lives. The benefits are far greater than just physical health. Whether it’s gaining the confidence that comes from learning to swim or building the positive relationships that lead to good sportsmanship and teamwork, the South Tampa Y is all about buil

ding the whole child, from the inside out. “Through our youth development programs, we believe all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve, under the guidance of adul

ts who care about them and believe in their potential,” says Lalita. “From quality summer camp programming to value-based youth sports, we are committed to changing lives.”

Some of the South Tampa Y’s initiatives include:

(1) Providing kids with the necessary tools and skills they need to succeed in school through summer camp experiences that prevent summer learning loss.

(2) Preventing childhood obesity and the chronic diseases that are associated with it, such as type two diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

(3) Teaching life skills through youth sports, day camps and teen leadership programs.

(4) Preventing and reducing accidental death due to drowning.

(5) Valuing diversity and inclusion by being a welcoming place to all.

Improve Your Health While Having Fun

With so many programs and activities that promote a healthier lifestyle, you won’t have

to look any further than your local Y to stay active and improve your overall health. The South Tampa Y offers so many incredible amenities and classes that I got a good workout just by typing them all.

The South Tampa Y offers low-impact classes and full body conditioning along with intense options for the serious fitness buff. The recently modernized Wellness Center and renovated exercise rooms offer all kinds of fitness classes; from spinning to yoga, and everything in between! With unique options like; “Chi Gong” a moving meditation holistic practice cultivating and balancing our life energy and sta

bilizing muscles and “Les Mills

BodyPump™” an original barbell class that strengthens your entire body by working out all your major muscles amongst many other group cla

sses, there’s truly something for everyone. Located right off the Wellness Center is a Max Results Room for TRX and small group training. They also offer disease prevention programs for active adults that are proven to help them get back into a healthy lifestyle. “We strive to improve the South Tampa community’s health and well-being with a focus on chronic disease prevention and management,” says Scott. “Along with our Y Diabetes Prevention Program and LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA cancer survivor program, the Pedaling for Parkinson’s program has a particularly active membership base in South Tampa. The low-impact cycling class has been proven to help ease and slow symptoms and disease progression. We also launched a program proven to help those with arthritis. Enhance®Fitness is proving to help older adults in South Tampa become more active, energized and empowered for independent living.”

YMCA Aquatics

At the Y, nationally-certified instructors teach kids, teens, and adults to swim, so they can stay safe around water and learn the skills they need to make swimming a lifelong pursuit for staying healthy. Y swimming instructors have been trained in CPR, AED, First Aid, an

d Oxygen Administration. Swimming lessons provide important life skills that could save a life and will benefit students for a lifetime.

The South Tampa YMCA also commits itself to drowning prevention as part of their social responsibility area since

Hillsborough Country regularly leads the nation in drowning for young children. “Three times a year, we offer free community lessons through our Safety Around Water program generously supported by the Tampa Bay Rays and United Way Suncoast,” says Lalita.

Family Fun

Finding family-friendly activities can be quite challenging, especially during the summer months when the children are at home and you realize there’s no way the kids should stay watching movies and playing video games the entire time. At the YMCA, they value family and are committed to providing their members a variety of fun family activities to choose from. From barbecues to Popsicle parties, to poolside crafts and healthy snack creation programs, the South Tampa YMCA is your go-to place for unique, creative, family-friendly activities.

Giving Back To the Community

Scott, Lalita and the rest of the staff at the YMCA believe it is critical to give back to our local community and provide support to those who need it most. The South Tampa Y lives this foundation component of their mission daily by strengthening vulnerable neighborhoods. “The South Tampa Y has a strong partnership with Chiaramonte Elementary, where more than 70 percent of the students receive free/reduced-lunch prices,” says Scott. “Our group brings holiday activities to 400 under-resourced students, including cookie-decorating, arts and crafts, and one-one-one visits with Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves.”

The South Tampa Y has recently adopted the “Togetherhood” program, which is a national program created to connect people from all backgrounds to plan and carry out volunteer projects that address a real need in the community. “We basically go out into the community and look at different service programs where volunteers are needed, and we provide our help at different community projects. A couple of months ago, we had a massive ‘Beach Clean Up’ where we picked up trash from the ocean and surrounding parking lots with about 30 volunteers,” says Scott. “We also brought 40 volunteers together to help Feeding Tampa Bay package meals for the homeless. We do these type of projects on a quarterly basis. We’re always on the lookout to service our local community anyway we can with the needs they have.”

The South Tampa Y also reaches more vulnerable populations with its Head Start collaboration and Go for Green program, which offers free swim lessons to Y summer campers unable to pass the swim test. “Through community partnerships and support, we’re able to provide quality programs and services to our South Tampa community members as we carry forward with our mission of improving the mind, body and spirit of all,” says Lalita.

Every single day, the Y supports kids, adults, seniors and families in our community with programs that protect, teach, connect, heal, nourish and encourage. When you—Y members, donors and volunteers—support the Y, you make the community stronger and help others realize the power of their full potential, while having fun doing it!

So if you wondered “Why choose my local YMCA?” now you know Y.

South Tampa YMCA is located at 4411 South Himes Avenue. Tampa, FL 33611. For more information or to sign up to any of their summer camps, membership, youth programs, swimming lessons or to learn more about volunteering in the community we encourage you to log on to https://www.tampaymca.org/locations/south-tampa/