First Friday Message

Through Their Eyes

Outside of an initial job as a paperboy, my first real job with a regular check was in high school as a day camp counselor. The church camp was based just a block from my home and I was fortunate to know many of the neighborhood kids in the program. I quickly grew to respect the care modeled by the adult leaders of the program and I worked hard to lead like them.

Nearly 40 years later, I still cherish the magic of summer day camps more than anything else I’ve been a part of. I love the innocence and joy of the youngest campers and the quick wit of the oldest.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve visited several of our day camp programs and tried not to stir up the younger campers too much before I leave. I jump into the games, sing the songs, and I have lots of chats…especially with the younger campers. The conversations with them are simply delightful and remind me of the magic years with my daughter (before YouTube, Roblox, and group chats with her classmates commanded all of her attention).

In one recent conversation, a 7-year old from Titusville was determined to explain to me how spiders are good to eat as long as they are cooked first. We all knew that, right?

I talk a lot about the stories I see playing out in our Ys because they are all so unique to each person’s experience at the Y. I love to see what camp means to our campers through their eyes and through their stories…and the more creative, the better!

Across our footprint from Ocala to Osceola and Titusville to Groveland, we’ve welcomed thousands of campers back into our Ys and we’ve created a fertile ground for new memories and new stories to be told. I like to believe that these are the foundational stories that will launch a lifetime of YMCA memories and friendships.

Many of you have Y camp stories as a camper or counselor that propelled you into your relationship with the Y. I hope you’ll share them with me.

Until next time…

Kevin Bolding, President & CEO
YMCA of Central Florida

The Y. For a better us.®

First Friday messages offer a monthly peak behind the veil of leading through change from the Y’s President & CEO.