The Somerset Hills YMCA is kicking off a new program "The Great Escape," the first in a series of teenage adventure programs in partnership with two nonprofit youth-focused organizations, The Boys’ Club of New York and Frost Valley YMCA. This first program, geared to 7th and 8th grade teens, includes an overnight adventure featuring activities such as geocaching, "capture the flag"-like games with camouflage and flashlights, optional night and sunrise hikes, improv, and outdoor living skills. Of course, no overnight adventure is complete without a campfire — where teams will be given an opportunity to rename their program and brainstorm ideas for future monthly programs. Overnight will be spent in cabins or a lodge with bathrooms at Camp Cromwell, located at 900 Vosseller Avenue, Martinsville NJ. The program will begin on Friday, Feb. 1 with check in at 5 p.m. and checkout the following day at 11 a.m..
Camp Cromwell, owned and operated by The Boys’ Club of New York, is a 110-acre campsite with nature trails, performing arts center, two swimming pools, indoor gymnasium, a new multi-purpose dining hall and five full basketball courts, that welcomes 300 boys each summer for fun and learning. Located in the heart of Martinsville, NJ, the camp provides a perfect nearby location for teens ready to explore adventure and to experience a sense of independence away from parents but under the watchful eye of YMCA staff.
The teenager/supervisor ratio will be approximately 6:1. Both Somerset Hills YMCA and Frost Valley YMCA bring years of youth programming experience to the initiative through their many programs geared toward children, in particular day and resident summer camp and outdoor education. Frost Valley YMCA, in operation for more than 100 years, offers unparalleled year round programs to all age groups and is situated two and a half hours north of Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
The teen initiative was launched by the Somerset Hills YMCA in response to an identified community need to offer middle school students exciting activities that challenge them, allow them to take healthy risks and put themselves out of their comfort zone. Data collected from in-person interviews and surveys conducted by the Y, as well as results from surveys given to teens in the Bernards Township schools, paint an alarming picture of disengaged teens turning to substance abuse at a higher rate than the national average. Major factors in their unsafe behavior are attributed to boredom, an inherent longing for risk taking and, in some cases, parental complicity and complacency.
This mission-driven initiative will be offered for just $50. Prices for future programs may change depending on the activities involved and will likely include options such as kayaking, zip lining, challenging ropes courses, archery and other realistic options that the teens identify.
Kim De Zutter, Senior Director of Family Services at the Somerset Hills YMCA, said, “We are thrilled to be launching this initiative in our community where there is a real need. That’s what the Y does — identify a need and try to fill it. The hope is to increase the programming frequency and variety once we ascertain interest. For parents looking to foster a sense of independence among their young teens, it’s a perfect experience opportunity for both parent and child. What’s more, Camp Cromwell is just down the road so the adventure is on our doorstep!”
Expectations run high that the program will fill up fast - there are a limited number of spaces available. Participation is open to all 7th and 8th graders within the Somerset Hills, members and non-members alike. Sleeping bags and bed rolls are required and these items, plus more, can be borrowed at no charge. Financial assistance is available, as with any other YMCA program, thanks to the Somerset Hills YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign that last year provided almost $1 million in scholarships and program support to those in need in the Somerset Hills community.
For more information and to register today, please visit www.somersethillsymca.org. Please contact Abbey Arwady, Director of Youth Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-766-7898, ext. 342 with any questions.
For more information about Camp Cromwell, please visit www.bcny.org.
For more information about Frost Valley YMCA, please visit www.frostvalley.org.