According to YMCA Summer Day campers, swimming is one of the best parts of each day! Not only is it fun to make a splash, it’s a great way to keep cool and active. Even our youngest campers – Kindercamp and Wee Camp – enjoy water or splash time.
Fun is part of the YMCA, but so is safety. Where there are YMCA day campers and pools, there are YMCA lifeguards and counselors. Lifeguards are on the pool deck, and YMCA counselors are in the pools swimming, splashing and playing games with the campers.
Our YMCA pools are staffed with lifeguards who meet national lifeguard certification standards, participate in regular in-service trainings and are audited regularly to ensure that they are always rescue-ready and responsive. The safety of our swimmers is our top priority at YMCA pools.
A few day camps are held at local schools or in communities not near a YMCA with a pool. In those cases, the YMCA uses a community pool for swim times. And we bring our certified lifeguards to guard and ensure the campers are safe. And of course, when campers swim at a YMCA pool, our lifeguards and aquatics staff are on the deck watching kids and counselors.
YMCA campers also use a buddy system during pool time. Each camper is paired up and periodically during swim time, the lifeguard will blow the whistle. Each buddy pair will stop swimming, grab hands and raise them overhead.
Our young campers, age 2 through rising kindergarteners, may swim in a YMCA toddler pool or have water play time at a day camp. Water play time usually involves water games, toddler pools and lots of ways for young kids to get wet and cool off.
Older children take a swim assessment on their first day of swimming at camp. The assessment is designed to gauge a child’s swimming skills and comfort level.
The swim assessment allows us to consistently assign safe swimming areas based on swim abilities. Once assessed, swimmers wear a swim band indicating where they are allowed in the pool. Our purpose is for lifeguards to quickly identify a swimmer’s abilities by the colored band worn around his or her neck.
To help clearly provide boundaries and swimming areas for the swimmers, we observe their skills and assess their abilities.
If the child is assessed as a non-swimmer, the Y will provide a United States Coast Guard approved life jacket.
There are two levels of Swim Bands. The lifeguard administering the assessment determines whether the swimmer has earned a band.
- The Yellow Band is earned when a camper can competently and confidently swim the front crawl 12.5 yards without stopping to rest. Then, without resting, tread water for 30 seconds in deep water with their face out of the water.
- The Black Band is earned when a camper can competently and confidently swim the front crawl 25 yards, face in the water, without stopping to rest. Then, without resting, tread water for 30 seconds in deep water with their face out of the water.
What do YMCA campers love most about swimming at camp?
“Swimming with my counselors!” says Leah, a YMCA camper. “We play games and they swim with us. It’s so much fun!”