After 40 years of serving the University’s extended community, providing a safe and fun learning environment for generations of young campers and offering unique opportunities for York students to build and showcase leadership skills, the York Youth Connection summer day camp bid farewell at a Sept. 20 celebration.
More than 60 campers, counsellors and parents from throughout the YYC camp’s extensive past attended the reunion, which was a part of York’s 2014 Homecoming celebration and included games, crafts, cheering and all manner of fun activities.
“This reunion was the perfect send off for a program that has provided so much to so many people over the years,” said Mandi Hickman, community relations manager, York University. “By looking through old pictures, connecting with new and old friends and reminiscing about the impact that the YYC camp has had on all those involved, we hope that those who attended the reunion now have some new and lasting YYC memories to add to their collections.”
YYC is York University’s oldest running community outreach program and has been a staple on campus for 40 summers. Since 1974, the camp has touched the lives of more than 2,000 campers aged 8-14 and has served as the foundation for leadership among more than 400 young local volunteers and almost 250 staff. It is a multi-disciplinary camp, which provides experiences ranging from swimming, dance, science lab work, video game design, and performance and improv.
Shazea Naroo, a York employee whose son Ashraf was a YYC camper, explained what the camp meant to him and why the reunion was the perfect way to say goodbye. “YYC was the only reason I could ever get Ashraf out of bed on time,” she said. “He was always so excited! From the morning chants, the crafts, visiting the various York departments and going to the movies, he enjoyed everything the camp had to offer. YYC has played an important part in Ashraf’s childhood and I know he will never forget the summers he spent there. The reunion was not only a fun event, but it allowed him to say his goodbyes to the many camp counselors and friends he has met at YYC.”
The event was also a time to say farewell to some past and present YYC staff members, many of whom even started as campers themselves. This includes this past year’s camp director, Sungeevan Sivakumar, who started as a camper in 2004. “This reunion was a chance to celebrate my 10 years of involvement with the program and say goodbye to some of the incredible campers I had the opportunity of meeting and mentoring. I’m able to have the leadership roles that I do today thanks to the YYC camp.”
And while YYC may be on hold as York University prepares to host next year’s Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, organizers are busy deciding what is to come. Hickman said that now that 40 years of YYC has come to a close, York’s Community Relations office is now determining what they can and should do next.