Helping Youth Overcome Obstacles

Each and every summer, students face myriad challenges as they spend their days outside of school and away from organized activities, and often, supervision. For many of our youth, summer is a time to fend for themselves, leading to unhealthy or unsafe behaviors, a lack of nurturing or educational activities, and even difficult access to food. Because of these challenges, summertime can be a major gap that children must navigate in order to stay safe, healthy, and on track with their education.  At the YMCA of Dane county, we offer programs and amenities that can help area kids “Hop the Gap.” Specifically, our programs help combat challenges related to Hunger, Health, Learning, Water Safety, and Safe Places.


Our YMCA Summer Camps provide opportunities for school aged children to get out and grow! We strive to provide fun, engaging, and exciting camp programs, but beyond that, we're committed to providing our kids with a healthy mind, spirit, and body. Our summer day camps help youth hop the gap in a variety of ways, ensuring access to healthy food, active play, water safety, and quality role models.

  • Hunger - As part of our Summer Food Program, campers have access to healthy snacks and learn about smart food choices.
  • Water Safety - Campers will have opportunities to swim every week, and will learn to be safe, smart, and confident around the water.
  • Learning - All camps host a "camp readers" program, encouraging our youth to keep up on reading all year long. Art, science, and other enriching activities are also found at camp.
  • Safe Places - Our camp counselors are always nearby to set good examples, ensure safe play, and to instill our core values of caring, honesty, responsibility, and respect.

Summer Camp Hop the Gap

Boys Youth Camp Hop the Gap

Water Safety Hop the Gap

flag football youth sports

youth learning reader program

Summertime often means time spent in and around our great local lakes, beaches or community and neighborhood pools. Fun water activities can prove intimidating, or even dangerous for children who lack basic swimming skills or water safety knowledge. The Y offers swim lessons for kids, teens, and even adults, at all of our local branches. Indoor lessons, with class instructors, licensed lifeguards, and a comfortable environment, are a great way for kids to add enjoyment ot their summer while they get exercise and build confidence.

  • Water Safety - Our Swim Lessons provide youth with the skills to swim and play safely and confidently in the water.
  • Health - Swimming is terrific exercise for young and old alike. Building swimming skills and habits early can be beneficial throughout childrens' lives.
  • Safe Places - Our YMCA pools are safe, supervised spaces where children will have fun, meet new friends and learn from excellent role models.

From traditional sports like baseball, football, and soccer to energetic activities including dance, martial arts and more, our youth sports programs offer excellent opportunities for kids to spend a few hours a weeks making new friends and building healthy habits. Our coaches and sports staff make all feel comfortable and welcome, while they help to build new skills and emphasize our core values.

  • Health - No matter what sport or activity children engage in, our programs offer energetic, organized play. Sports programs help to build skills, and lifelong healthy habits.
  • Safe Places - In our YMCAs or off-site, sports programs are supervised by our excellent coaches who emphasize safe, fun play.

Y-Readers is a Summer Learning pilot program that helps 1st and 2nd graders who are reading below grade level. The program focuses on phonics, writing, and reading to boost students’ literacy skills, along with enrichment activities to support their physical and social-emotional growth.

  • Learning - Youth participants are given phonics and reading instruction, engage in art and music curriculum, and are taken on enriching field trips throughout the summer.
  • Hunger - Children participating in this program have access to healthy meals, snacks, and fun activities as part of our Summer Food Program.
  • Health - Along with nutritional education, particpants engage in physical activity and organized play every day to foster positive habits.
  • Safe Places - Our educators provide educational and emotional support to our young children both in and out of the classroom, helping them to learn, grow and thrive.
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