All posts by Kaitlin Slack

Transitioning Back To School – Connecting With Your Kids

Written by: Alix W.

For most parents, back to school has a bittersweetness to it. The long, lazy days of summer are amazing. Water fights, sunshine, bubbles, watermelon for lunch, there’s a relaxed feeling in the air. Kids read books upside down on the couch, the only gear you need is flip flops and hats, and no one needs a bath, they’re running through the sprinkler every day. There’s no rushing from place to place, the sun boosts everyone’s mood, and you have the chance to create some real memories together as a family. But by the end of August, kids get bored, parents run out of ideas – everyone is ready for new company and the school year to begin.   

While the transition back to school is welcome, it can also be challenging for some families – mixed emotions, routine defiance, a decline in connectiveness and more.   

For families where both parents work, maybe your routine wasn’t all that disrupted by summer. Your kids might have had a blast at our YMCA Calgary Summer Camps and are used to the morning hustle, bagged lunch and full days. In that case, your family might be ready to tackle the long days of school, after school care and the routine that comes with it. For other families who just went with the summer flow, the transition may not be that easy. 

Every family, every kid is different, and there is no fix-all solution to make the transition easier. For my kids, I try to add a little closure to summer, which can allow them to process the idea that we’re moving on to the school year.  Create a summer photo album, and print off all your favourite photos from the last few months. Every evening spend a few minutes looking at your summer pictures and talking about what you liked best about summer. It’s an excellent way to relive some memories and then branch into talking about what they are most excited about for the school year.  It also is a great routine to keep their mind off heading to bed a little early. 

Once you are back in the swing of school, freshen up your regular routine:  

  • Find new lunch options and switch them up often 
  • Build a fresh play list to sing along to on the way to school 
  • Listen to some new podcasts on the way home 

Our annual “transition routine” has helped my family keep our fun summer memories alive, easily transition back to the school and continue to develop those important family connections we build over the summer months. 


8 tips to prepare your child for overnight camp

Can you remember the first time you went to a sleepaway camp, how scared and excited you were to be away from home? Homesickness is common at overnight camp. Many campers miss home at some point during their stay. These 8 tips can prepare your camper for homesickness 

1. Learn more about the camp with your camper so they can anticipate what it will be like

Why not plan a visit to the camp that your child will be staying at? You can also take your child and attend a pre-camp information session. Doing this will help ease some of the uncertainty your child is feeling before going to camp. It also provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with your child and build excitement around the activities that await your camper.   

2. Plan a sleepover for your child 

This is a good way for a child to learn exactly what it will be like to be away from home. Make it a game that you and your child can play, pretend that they are going off to camp, help them pack for their experience and remind them to only call home if there is an emergency. Don’t be afraid to provide some examples of what an emergency is.  

3. Talk to your child about homesickness  

It is okay to talk about homesickness with your child. However, encourage your camper to take the challenge head on and that this will be a fun adventure where they will learn lots and make lots of friends. We understand sending your child to camp is a challenge for the parents as well, but it is important that you don’t let them see your uncertainty if you are feeling that way. Show to them that your confident they will be able to overcome the challenge and have a lot of fun. Encourage them if they are feeling homesick to talk with their counsellor, friends, write a letter home or hug their favorite stuffed animal. If your child is anxious about how he/she will get a hold of you, let him/her know that the counsellor knows that you are just a phone call away if needed.  

4. Use a calendar to show the amount of time your camper will be away  

It is important to go through the calendar with your camper before they leave. This way you can show them how long they will be away from home. The visual will help the child feel more comfortable.  Also, do not plan any family-fun activities while your camper is away, this can cause the camper to feel like they are missing out on something fun while away from home.  

5. Help your camper get excited about camp  

Once you have shown your camper the dates they will be at camp. It is your job to start getting them excited about camp. Talk about camp regularly, start showing them the activities they will be doing, ask them what they are most excited about and be just as excited as they are about it. Remember, building that excitement before is crucial! Plus, you will get just as excited for your child’s adventure as they are.  

6. Pack a personal item to remind your child of home  

Sending a personal item such as a photograph or a stuffed animal will help the child feel more comfortable when away from home.  

7. Send pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes and paper for your camper to write letters  

This will provide an opportunity for your camper to write a letter home when at camp. Sometimes just writing down their thoughts and sending it home will help ease the homesickness. 

8. What to do at drop off… 

Avoid making comments that may reflect your anxiety around sending your child to camp. Phrases such as “I hope you’ll be ok” or “what will I do without you” may leave a child worried that something bad might happen to them or their parents which can lead to homesickness. Instead show how confident you are in them by saying “I know that you’re looking forward to a lot of the activities at camp. I can’t wait to hear your stories!”  

Overnight camp is a wonderful experience for your child to learn new skills, more about themselves and make lots of friends! Don’t let homesickness get in the way by using these 8 tips to prepare your child (and yourself!) before heading to camp.  

Information was referenced from: https://www.albertacamping.com and our Camp Chief Hector YMCA staff.  


Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA Free Friday Fitness Classes

Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA is hosting free Friday Fitness Classes for the months of July and August.

Join us at Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA every Friday at 12 pm in July and August for free fitness classes. A new class to try every week for free!  

Here is an overview of the programs Gray Family Eau Claire YMCA will be offering:  
 

  • July 19, 2019 – Kickboxing: Fight to get fit! Work to hone your cardiovascular fitness, muscles and motor skills using a variety of kickboxing moves.  
  • July 26, 2019 – Group Blast: Group Blast is an energetic cardio workout using the STEP to train fitness, agility, coordination and strength. It will get your heart pounding and sweat pouring as you improve your fitness, agility, coordination, and strength with exciting music and group energy.  
  • August 2, 2019 – TBD 
  • August 9, 2019 – Cross Training: Cut workout boredom and get with a variety of cross-training exercises. Challenge and improve your agility, core and fitness level through plyometrics and sports drills. 
  • August 16, 2019 – Yoga in the Park: Find your inner strength and balance as you de-stress in this calming class. You will improve your flexibility, strength, balance and body awareness through a series of breathing exercises and poses.  
  • August 23, 2019 – Cycle: Up your cycling skills! Come prepared for a cardiovascular workout that emphasizes proper form, technique and safety. Challenge your endurance and stamina with hills, climbs and sprints.  
  • August 30, 2019 –  Tabata Drumming: Come join us for a SMASHING good time. This fun cardio workout will get your heart pounding.

**All events are subject to change. So please stay tuned to our website for updates! 


Stampede Parade: YMCA Calgary Float

The YMCA Calgary float demonstrates the action, community-building, and fun that makes the YMCA what it is. A variety of activities children, youth and adults can experience at the Y are illustrated with figurine outlines that can be any person from anywhere, emphasizing our inclusivity and our welcoming of all people. They are playing basketball, lifting weights, running, doing yoga, skateboarding, playing music, canoeing, and hiking.

All the figures are placed on, in and around colorful ribbon-like pieces that intertwine to demonstrate the community-building that occurs when children, youth and adults gather together to participate in activities they enjoy. The ribbons also intertwine in and around the acronym YMCA to demonstrate how the Y has activities within its Centres of Community but also around the city in 60 different sites including community centres and schools.

These ribbons gather together at the front of the float to create a push bar for the people pushing the structure.  The float is in the shape of a Y and is led by large YMCA logos, a recognizable symbol of welcome, community – a safe space. The basketball backboard at the back of the float symbolizes the ingenuity of the YMCA (basketball was invented by Canadian James Naismith at a YMCA in 1891) and the constant flow of new ideas and activities at local YMCAs around our city, our country and in 120 countries around the world.   The words around the base of the float are YMCA key concepts supporting our mission – learn, grow, belong, thrive, lead, volunteer and work. They speak to the vision of YMCA Calgary, that our communities will be vibrant and healthy because children, youth and adults belong, grow, thrive and lead.


YMCA Calgary & First Calgary Financial: A signature partnership Empowering Youth with Financial Literacy Skills

Calgary AB – A $120,000 investment by First Calgary Financial in the YMCA Achievement Program (YMAP) means youth who are new to Canada will belong, grow, thrive and lead through impactful YMCA experiences, including improving their financial literacy.

The YMCA Achievement Program (YMAP) is an afterschool program that supports newcomer youth in Calgary. YMAP supports high school aged youth refugees, immigrants, international students and second-generation Canadians, representing over 50 different countries. This program provides opportunities for students to develop in all areas essential to a positive and healthy integration into Canada, while maintaining and celebrating their culture of origin.

Through this partnership, First Calgary Financial will not only provide $120,000 towards the YMAP program but also give additional support through volunteer engagement. For example, in conjunction with Financial Literacy Month in Canada (November), First Calgary Financial employees are kicking off their volunteerism by providing financial literacy workshops to every YMAP program in the city.

“Our youth are growing up in an age where spending is easier than ever, and debt is becoming a way of life,” says Shelley Vandenberg, President of First Calgary Financial. “Through our partnership with the YMCA, our employees will be helping over 300 youth learn money skills that are often not addressed at this crucial age. It’s something we’re passionate about at our credit union, and it only makes sense to give back in the communities in ways we know best.”

Over 350 youth will benefit from this opportunity, learning necessary financial skills to support their future planning.
“The opportunity to create more awareness and understanding of an important life skill, money management, perfectly complements the YMAP program which has been running for over 25 years, says Shannon Doram, President and CEO of YMCA Calgary. “Thank you to our trusted partners at First Calgary – both their leadership and staff – for their commitment to supporting newcomer youth in our diverse and evolving city.”

About YMCA Calgary

YMCA Calgary is a charity dedicated to building healthy communities. For 116 years, YMCA Calgary has been committed to nurturing the potential of children, youth and families, promoting healthy living and fostering social responsibility within the community.

About Connect First Credit Union

Connect First Credit Union offers its members a full range of financial products and services through trusted local brands and a community-focused approach to banking. Connect First is Canada’s 7th largest credit union, with over $5.4 billion in assets. Proud to employ over 700 Albertans, Connect First serves 120,000 members through 42 branches in central and southern Alberta, under the brands: First Calgary Financial, Chinook Financial, Mountain View Financial and Legacy Financial.


Why programs are so great!

Last week we did a poll on Twitter to see how many people planned to register for a fall program. 22% are still unsure.

While there are lots of ways to keep active and maintain your level of fitness independently, there are some excellent benefits to taking a program. Some benefits of program participation are:

• Adds variety to your workout routine, reducing the repetitiveness that often comes with exercising independently (which leads to exercise drop-outs)
• Helps provide motivation and accountability through the power of a group and an expert instructor
• Leaves work out planning to the instructor – no pre-planning required!
• Provides progressive challenge, allowing you to improve your level of fitness over a short period of time
• Like small group training, provides supervision of exercise form, reducing the risk of injury and ensuring you receive the FULL benefit from each exercise
• Provides new exercises and form you can incorporate into your own fitness routine
• Provides instant social connections and an opportunity to get to know people in the community with like interests

Still unsure? Tell us why.

Learn more about our programs here: https://www.ymcacalgary.org/program-descriptions/


Impact of exercise on mental health

 

 

In honour of Mental Health Week, YMCA Calgary wants to remind everyone the importance physical activity plays in both mental and physical health.

It is proven that daily exercise will improve your overall well-being.   What is also known, is that the type and intensity of exercise doesn’t matter. Daily physical activity, whether it is an intensive boot camp, an hour-long swim or a 30-minute walk, will significantly improve your mental health

Many of us face stress throughout our daily lives in our work, family, finances and relationships, which can negatively effect our mental health.   Incorporating daily physical activity into your routine will:

  1. Increase your energy
  2. Improve your mood
  3. Reduce stress
  4. Improve self-esteem
  5. Reduce depression and anxiety
  6. Improve both mental and physical health and overall well-being

Information was referenced from:  https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-using-exercise. To read more about how exercise can help your mental and physical well-being click on the link above.


National Volunteer Week 2018 – Sanam Adjigol

Branch: SHY

Name: Sanam Adjigol

Position: Preschool/ Volunteer instructor

Number of Years Volunteered: 2.5

Number of Volunteer Hours in 2018: 10.5

How has the nominee been a YMCA Calgary Ambassador?

Sanam has been a volunteer both here and at ECY. She promotes the Y when she talks about what she does – from being a preschool volunteer instructor teaching kids to being a day camp counsellor being a friend when needed to campers. Promoting people to join and have fun.

How does the volunteer engage in the YMCA Calgary Community?

Sanam is always talking about the Y to parents and friends. She lets them know about whats being offered, from programs to the camps where she is a counsellor.

How has the nominee built positive relationships?

Sanam gets down on the participants level and finds out about them. Making them feel welcome and giving them that extra hand when they need it. Either to make new buddies or to help kids with their first time away from parents.  The students rush in to tell her about that they have done that week.

In what ways has the nominee exceeded the expectations of their role?

Sanam jumps right in and takes care of any situation. She lends a helping hand to fellow volunteers and other branches when needed.


National Volunteer Week 2018 – Lynda Johnson

Branch: Quarry Park

Name: Lynda Johnson

Position: Reception/Front Assistant

Number of Years Volunteered: 2

Number of Volunteer Hours in 2018: 28

How has the nominee been a YMCA Calgary Ambassador?

Lynda has always been a true ambassador for the YMCA. She knows what the YMCA’s values are and she demonstrates these values, not only when she is here, but in her life daily.

How does the volunteer engage in the YMCA Calgary Community?

Lynda always has a smile and greets everyone. Everyone expects to see her when they arrive on Tuesdays. She is a part of our family.

How has the nominee built positive relationships?

Lynda always has a smile for everyone. She interacts with staff and families alike. She makes people feel welcome and at home. Lynda takes on any task that needs to be done.

In what ways has the nominee exceeded the expectations of their role?

Lynda is always willing to help with anything, and with very short notice, if necessary. She has offered to come in and put in extra time if we need her. We rely on Lynda and we know she will be there for us.


National Volunteer Week 2018 – John Anderson

Volunteer of the Year Response

Branch: ECY

Name: John Anderson

Position: Group Fitness Instructor

Number of Years Volunteered: 26

Number of Volunteer Hours in 2018: 25+

How has the nominee been a YMCA Calgary Ambassador?

John was one of the first Y people I met when I started working here. He was (an always is ) welcoming, encouraging, and cheerful. He left the most positive impression of an organization I was already excited to be a part of. John talks about the Y like a family.

How does the volunteer engage in the YMCA Calgary Community?

John teaches lunch hour fitness classes at least two days per week, and on the others he attends them as a participant! He is a fixture in this facility between the hours of 11:30 and 1:00pm, choosing to spend his time engaging with staff, members, and other volunteers.

How has the nominee built positive relationships?

John is one of our most longstanding and respected volunteers. He recognizes every participant by name, takes the time to get to know and help new faces in the crowd, and does it all with a smile.

In what ways has the nominee exceeded the expectations of their role?

John stepped well outside his comfort zone in 2017. While his background and experience is in teaching typical hi/lo and cardio classes, John decided to leap into the MOSSA Group Blast training head first. This time consuming and occasionally frustrating class brought out the best in John, and the extra time and effort he puts in to learn and teach releases himself, as well as ensure members are getting the most out of each class, is so appreciated!


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