For Paige Kenyon, seeing children participate in new activities and flourish through a summer camp geared toward low-income families is inspiring.
The 18-year-old has volunteered her time to the YWCA of Glendale’s Camp Y — which began in 2010 — since she was in seventh grade. Now, she serves as the camp director’s assistant and has developed friendships with the children through the eight-week program.
“I fell in love with the camp, and I love meeting new kids here,” Kenyon said. “This is a place where they can really thrive.”
This year, the summer camp provided 25 scholarships — more than double from the previous year — for underserved youth.
The camp provides arts and crafts, lunch and swimming lessons through donations from the Kiwanis Club of Glendale, Las Candelas, National Charity League and individual donors.
For the first time, the camp partnered with the nonprofit Glendale Arts this year to provide four weeks of musical theater classes.
Tara Peterson, executive director of the YWCA, said donations help keep the summer camp “competitive.” Though she said she acknowledges there aren’t many “frills” compared to other camps, one component she refuses to give up is providing daily meals, which can include pizza, spaghetti, chicken or rice.
“It’s important for everyone to have nutritious lunches. The last thing we’d want is someone to come to camp and not have enough sustenance,” Peterson said.
On Thursday, Mackenzie, 11, sat at a table with friends as they worked on creating beaded jewelry. Mackenzie strung together blue and green beads to create a necklace. Only her first name is used to protect her privacy.
Mackenzie said was able to participate in Camp Y because she and her sister earned a scholarship from the YWCA. It was her first time at a summer camp and she said she enjoyed swimming and making new friends.
She said she initially had reservations about attending the summer camp because she thought it was “only for little kids.”
Now, she said she can’t wait to return next summer.