Keeping kids active on snow days

(WISH Photo)

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — With 52 schools and community organizations closed in Central Indiana Friday for severe weather, several families turned to the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis to keep their kids active, whether they’re Y members or not.

“What’s going on today is we have a whole bunch of our School’s Out Camp programs,” said Brian Shelley, YMCA senior program director for day camp programs. “So anytime school is canceled we offer a School’s Out Camp program for the communities in which we serve.”

Shelley’s comments are punctuated by more than 20 children and half a dozen counselors, racing around the Fishers Y’s family gym with a large rainbow parachute.

“We make sure they go home tired every single day. It’s a mixture of high active games which you saw with our parachute games to low active arts and crafts to STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) projects,” Shelley said.

These so-called snow day camps happened at five area YMCA’s: Arthur A. Baxter YMCA, Fishers YMCA, Hendricks Regional Health YMCA, Jordan YMCA and Ransburg YMCA. They open their doors to students at 6:30 a.m. on days where the local school districts have a delay, early release or snow day. The cost is $43 per student, $35 for YMCA members. Sometimes, the counselors find out just an hour before students begin arriving.

“We were on our way to our before- and after-school sites and then we got the call that school was canceled so we turned around came back to the Y,” said Dani Staley, YMCA School’s Out Camp coordinator. “When I walked in the door there was already a family waiting to come in.”

“As soon as they call the parents we get a notification as well, or we watch the news, and as soon as we get that notification we move into operations and call our staff teams and moving supplies a round to make sure we’re here at 6:30 and our families have that care,” Shelley said.

The camp is open until 6 p.m., which comes as a big relief to many parents, according to Shelley.

‘I think its just the benefit to have this opportunity for those working families in those service industries who have to be at work today,” he said. “An opportunity to have kids to go a safe and inclusive place is really just the benefit for the families.”

“The kids love it,” Staley added. “A snow day is great as-is, but they might think that it’ll be better to stay home and play video games or that type of hting, but once get them going here, and they’re doing crafts, playing in the gym getting to do all these things, they really enjoy it and they end up liking coming here instead of staying home.”

The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has a weather line with School’s Out Camp information at 317-539-4919. You can also check their openings online by clicking here.