Camp Taunton run by YMCA Old Colony focuses on field trips

TAUNTON — YMCA Old Colony Taunton Camp Director Brittany Lanoue said trail rides, arts and crafts and sports are offered for kids this summer.

“We’re a field trip-based camp, and we do four field trips a week,” she said.

Camp Taunton’s weekly activities have been underway since June 27 and will continue until August 26.

Lanoue said field trips include going to Water Wizz in Wareham, swimming at Houghton’s Pond in the Blue Hills and hiking at Massasoit State Park.

Camp counselor Kelly Simmons, a 2021 Taunton High School graduate, said the campers are “doing some super cool things that a lot of them haven’t done before”.

Upcoming camp adventures will include visiting the Museum of Science in Boston on July 22 and Brenton Point State Park in Newport, Rhode Island on July 29.

Brenton Point Park offers visitors breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and the opportunity to kite, hike, and bird watch.

Camp Taunton counselor Nicole Almeida assists camper Mariyah Cedeno on a roller skating excursion.

Campers will also be taken Aug. 5 to Battleground Z in Lincoln, Rhode Island, where they can archery and play tag, paintball, dodgeball, laser wars and arcade games.

Camp counselor Jeremiya Andrade said the outings included visiting the waterslide park at Breezy Point Picnic Grounds in Douglas.

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“We also went to Plaster Fun Time in Braintree,” he said.

Plaster Fun Time gives kids the chance to paint “their way,” according to the company’s website.

Camp Taunton participant Nolan Green, 5, prepares to throw a soccer ball to a playmate outside Hopewell Elementary School.

Five-year-old Nolan Green said he liked the field trips because the campers sang songs while traveling by bus.

“I love the songs,” he said as he tossed a soccer ball to a playmate during a recent field trip to Hopewell Elementary School in Taunton.

Lanoue said children “sing a lot” when they’re on buses for field trips.

“They sing songs they make up,” she added.

Camp Taunton Team Activities

Old Colony YMCA Senior Executive Director Ronan Davis said the camp offers “lots of team-building activities to help kids learn to solve challenges together.”

“One of the most rewarding things is seeing the level of growth a child has through their activities,” he said.

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These team activities include basketball, t-ball, soccer, four-square and more, according to the Old Colony YMCA website.

Camp Taunton participant Kyle Coleman enjoys an outdoor activity.

Davis said the camp offers “lots of swimming activities.”

“We have swimming lessons Tuesday at the YMCA Old Colony,” he said.

Davis said the camp partners with Taunton Public Library and Taunton Public Schools.

“Children can consult books every week,” he said. “Children will eat four different lunches or breakfasts a week, and Taunton Public Schools will provide these.”

Camp Taunton counselor Kelly Simmons plays a game with a group of children outside Hopewell Elementary School.

The camp works to meet the needs of children with disabilities

Davis said Camp Taunton is effective in helping children with autism or complex mental issues.

“A good portion of our campers have an autism problem or a difficult mental challenge,” he said. “We receive funds from the State Department of Mental Health to pay for a clinician and support staff at all of our camps (Old Colony YMCA). They work with children and with their families.

Taunton camp counselors praised

Davis said the kids “absolutely love” the camp counselors.

“We have some of the best hard-working people,” he said.

Andrade, who graduated from Taunton High in 2018, said he served as a counselor to help prepare him to be a mentor to children.

“I want to get into law enforcement to some degree and help kids in need and be a mentor and take them on a journey,” said Andrade, a senior criminal justice specialist at the University of State of Plymouth in New Hampshire.

Andrade said he serves in the New Hampshire National Guard and expects to graduate from college in December.

Camp Taunton counselor Izael Cruz works with campers Nolan Green and Qadir Brown as they play at Hopewell Park.

Simmons said she worked as a counselor to build her capacity to be an influential child psychologist after graduating from Endicott College.

“I just finished my freshman year,” she said. “I want to work with children.”

Simmons said she developed an interest in helping the children of her mother, Kristen Simmons, a kindergarten teacher from Mansfield, and as a trainee at Tiger Tots, a preschool program in Taunton.

“I was able to do some teaching,” she says.

Camp Taunton participants Amar Dibbles, Emmanuel Leathers, Taylah Correia, London Brandao and Somaya Singletary enjoy a meal.

How to register for Camp Taunton

Old Colony vice president of public affairs Michael Ricci said about 75 children participate in camp activities daily.

“We have more room for registrations if a family wants to register their child,” he said. “You don’t have to commit to signing up for the whole summer.”

Lanoue said most Camp Taunton campers live in low-income households.

“Ninety-five percent of parents who enrolled their children received state or YMCA assistance,” she said. “They can get a discount rate.”

Lanoue said additional information for parents who need financial assistance to enroll their child is available on the YMCA Old Colony website or by calling 774-517-7139.

Denise W. Whigham