YMCA of Greater Brandywine Offers New Teen Camps to Support Teen Independence

A group of YGBW camp counselors poses for a photo after completing a day of team building at the Jennersville Branch.

Camps are Precursor to Fall Programs for Teens

(West Chester, PA) – The YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW) is offering three new summer camps focused on supporting the unique needs of teens as they grow and develop. Camps include Leaders in Training, Counselors in Training and Teen Trek, a camp that features field trips to escape rooms, amusement parks, sports arenas and more.

New teen camps serve youth between the ages of 11 and 15, with age groups varying slightly by camp. Middle school campers are best suited for Leaders in Training or Teen Trek, while high school campers are suited for Counselors in Training or Teen Trek.

More information can be found on YGBW’s website: https://ymcagbw.org/blog/supporting-independence-for-teens

Supporting Teen Independence
“We recognize that teens need a different experience than most summer camps offer,” explains Bridgette Barbera-Byrne, Senior Association Director of Youth Programs and Summer Camp. “We developed three camps that cultivate the maturity of teens while also supporting them with just the right amount of structure. And of course, we left plenty of room for fun.”

Supporting older youth as they mature and seek independence from caregivers can be challenging. While teens may have a strong opinion that they are ready to be fully independent, the CDC advises that an appropriate amount of supervision and monitoring can discourage teens from taking risks that pose a threat to their safety and wellbeing.

Summer can be a particularly challenging time of year for caregivers to navigate. Without the structure provided by the school day, many teens are left on their own. Many caregivers are left wondering if they should register their teen for camp or not.

To help caregivers strike the right balance, the Y offers helpful tips.

Choosing an Age-Appropriate Summer Camp
Look for camps that are designed specifically for teens
Select a flexible option that allows you to pick and choose weeks vs. committing for the entire summer, allowing you to send your teen to camp for just a few weeks
Try a camp that builds leadership skills
Before registering, ask camp leadership how their staff is trained to work with teens vs. younger campers

Supporting Teens Beyond Summer
YGBW’s support for teens doesn’t end when the summer does. Earlier this year, the organization announced a $1.4MM investment that will be directed, in part, to support the development of teen programming.

During the 2024-25 school year, YGBW plans to pilot Y Achievers at the Coatesville and Jennersville Branches. Y Achievers supports teens of color, enabling them to set and pursue educational and career goals.

This fall, YGBW will also pilot a revised version of the 7th Grade Initiative at the Coatesville, Jennersville and Upper Main Line branches. The program offers a free membership to local 7th Graders so that they can discover their passions and develop healthy habits through exercise, mentorship, volunteerism and more.

Both programs will receive subject matter support and guidance from Jazmyn Hudson, Senior Association Director of Teen Development.

“Empowering teens with the tools to navigate their journey towards independence is not just a program at the Y; it's a pathway to shaping tomorrow's leaders, innovators, and changemakers. We’re working hard to expand the programs and services available to local teens," comments Hudson.

”I love working with teens because I learn from them every day,” she says. “There is often a negative perception about older youth and my goal is to transform that perception – both in the minds of the community and in the minds of teens. Teens have a lot to contribute to our community.”

Category: Press