Mahaska County YMCA Buzzes with Summer Activities

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This summer, the Mahaska County YMCA is bursting with activities for all ages, offering everything from summer camps to swim lessons, coed softball, and fitness challenges.

“Since we moved, we’ve increased our membership by more than 50%,” said Katy Greene, Director of Membership and Marketing. “We want to offer programs so that everyone feels like they have something they can do.”

The summer camp, a staple since 1994, is designed for school-aged children from kindergarten through fifth grade. “It’s licensed childcare, and they’re very active,” Greene explained. “They spend days at our Bruce & Mary Lou Sedrel Day Camp at Lake Keomah cabin doing archery, fishing, canoeing, and hiking. They also have swim lessons and field trips every week.”

For adults, the YMCA has introduced a new coed softball league, starting July 9 at the Lacey Complex. “It was highly requested by the community last year,” Greene noted. “We have no idea how many teams to expect, but we’re ready for a fun season.”

The YMCA recently concluded its “Ride Across Iowa” challenge, where members cycled the equivalent of the RAGBRAI route on stationary bikes. “Now, we’re doing a hike fitness challenge,” Greene said. “Members sign up and have a certain amount of time to complete their hike challenge goals.”

Rachel Brown, the YMCA Aquatics Coordinator, highlighted the importance of swim lessons. “Drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged one to four in the United States,” she said. In partnership with YUSA, the YMCA is offering free swim lessons for the first session this summer. “We have all different levels, from preschool to advanced. A lot of the high school swim team girls and boys are helping us teach the lessons, and the turnout has been incredible.”

The swim program has seen a significant increase in participation. “We will have given swimming lessons to over 600 children by the end of 2024,” said Alex Anderson, the YMCA Aquatics Director. “Last year, we taught a little over 200 children. The YUSA grant is helping us to almost triple the number of swimming lessons we can teach.”

The swimming lessons emphasize water safety. “We don’t just teach how to swim, we also talk and teach things like the importance of sunscreen, using lifejackets, and even have taught how to get out of ocean currents,” Anderson explained. “It’s all about building life skills to be safe in and around the water.” 

All of the swimming instructors are high school students on the swim team and William Penn students, who are certified lifeguards. 

The YMCA is also offering a swim team boot camp in July, aimed at kids interested in joining the swim team or improving their skills. “It’s a great way to build up our program and find new talent,” Anderson commented about the YMCA swim team. 

For the youngest swimmers, there are parent-baby classes on Saturday mornings. “Parents get in the water with their babies and practice floating, blowing bubbles, and reaching for things in the water,” Anderson said. “It’s about building confidence at a really young age.”

With such a wide range of activities, the Mahaska County YMCA is ensuring a busy and active summer for the community. “We always need more people,” Anderson added. “More swim instructors are always welcome.”

For more information about, membership, or the Mahaska County YMCA, please contact the YMCA at (641) 673-8411 or visit their website at https://www.mahaskaymca.org/   

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