It's hard to forget when you learned to swim: the joy of taking off the floaties and feeling nothing but your arms and legs propel you through the cool water. The excitement and thrill of jumping into the deep end knowing this time, someone wasn't going to catch you. This time, you could do it yourself.
That's the feeling the Stanly County YMCA hopes to provide to children this summer through their summer camp, which will be held at the Y Pavilion in Albemarle and Running Creek School in Locust.
Low-income children from Mecklenburg County will have the chance to attend the camp through The Summer Camp Fund, an effort by the nonprofit POST (Partners in Out-of-School Time) and The Charlotte Observer.
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The goal is to send children from low-income families throughout the Carolinas to camps, where they can safely, and under supervision, enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise.
According to Denise Crockett, family services coordinator of the Stanly County Y, the learning-to-swim aspect of the camp is very important since North Carolina has an abundance of beaches, lakes and rivers.
Many low-income children grow up in the city and have never learned the potentially life-saving skill of swimming. All beginning swimmers get two free weeks of lessons at the Y Summer Camp.
"Swimming is important not only from the enjoyment it brings children but also from health and safety perspectives," Charlotte Observer publisher Ann Caulkins said.
In fact, the Governing Board of Summer Camp Fund recently added swimming to its list of "especially important" activities.
"I think it is a blessing to be in the program and to receive scholarships - to see the wonder and amazement in children's eyes when they are doing something out of the box," Crockett said.