I was working in a hotel as a housekeeper. I was a single mom with two young kids, Colton and Amber. Their father left the picture shortly after they were born, and I was living pay cheque to pay cheque, trying to make sure my kids had food on the table and shoes on their feet. The thought of registering them in after-school soccer, summer camps or dance classes had never been an option. I just couldn’t afford it.
My name is Tracey, and this is my Y story.
One morning, a coworker and I were cleaning a hotel room and we began to talk about our kids. I told her the struggles I was experiencing – not being able to give them the opportunities their friends had. She told me about the YMCA and how she was able to register her kids in summer camps. Over lunch, I called the Y and talked to a camp coordinator about financial assistance and camp options. A few months later, I sent both Colton and Amber to their first experience of summer camp.
I remember the first day I dropped Amber off at the bus. She was really nervous as we drove up to the meeting place and got her signed in. It was amazing how warm and welcoming everyone was to both of us right away.
Amber is an adult now – she went to camp for seven years. Those experiences allowed her to grow an amazing foundation that has given her a passion to work with others and be a leader. It’s great to see that she still keeps in touch with the friends she met years ago at camp.
Colton first went to Camp Chief Hector YMCA when he was seven years old. He was more scared than Amber his first time – they even had to rearrange his room so that he could sleep close to a counselor, and he kept a flashlight on throughout the night. Colton has always been a very withdrawn, reclusive boy who easily gets upset and angry. Each year, I couldn’t believe he actually lasted through the whole week. The counselors were amazing with him; they gave him the male support he needed and helped him grow self-confidence.
Camp Chief Hector YMCA has changed the lives of my kids and encouraged wonderful changes in our family. Without the financial help from YMCA Calgary, I never would have had the funds to send them to camp and they would not have the solid foundation for adult life that they gained through those experiences.
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