Brac camp offers up a cultural cornucopia

YMCA partners with Heritage House for Summer Culture Camp

Campers Sabia Robinson, Keeley Rose, Donte Bodden, Di’Jhaney Valentine, Josani Burke, Aracely Matute-Trejo and Joseph Wagner with the decorated calavan (bird trap) they helped make at last year's camp. - Photos: Simone Scott

Youngsters are exited to be gearing up for a summer session of fun at the YMCA Brac Summer Culture camp.

A registration, payment and question session will take place on Saturday, July 23, at the Brac Library from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The camp welcomes children ages 5-13, and runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon from Aug. 1-12. The camp also features friends and family nights on Saturday, Aug. 6, and Saturday, Aug. 13.

The camp is a partnership between the YMCA and Brac Heritage House, and builds on the efforts of the YMCA to help deliver quality children’s programs on the Sister Islands.

“The YMCA has been involved in running the extended after-school program in partnership with Brac Heritage House, and we got to talking about how we could extend our involvement throughout the year beyond the school term,” said YMCA operations director Gillian Roffey.

It is the Y’s second year in operation in Cayman, though globally the organization has been in existence for 172 years. YMCA of the Cayman Islands has seven full-time employees, and just under 120 part-time staff, which includes camp staff at three locations.

Josimar Tatum, Sabia Robinson, Josani Burke and Noah Woods try their hand at line fishing.
Josimar Tatum, Sabia Robinson, Josani Burke and Noah Woods try their hand at line fishing.

“The Y is very excited to be expanding and developing more programs year-round, in Grand Cayman and in the Sister Islands,” said Ms. Roffey.

She said the fit with the Brac Culture Camp was ideal as partnering with the Brac Heritage House brings added resources, support and the extensive institutional experience the organization has in running summer camps.

“The other main elements we are bringing are the Y’s five core values of honesty, caring, responsibility, respect and faith,” said Ms. Roffey.

Camp coordinator and founder Simone Scott said the summer camp started last year to offer an alternative to the Brac’s usual offerings focusing on religion and sports. The culture camp activities are geared toward bringing heritage to life, ranging from visiting historic houses to fishing excursions, making crafts, and learning about nature conservation.

Josani Burke had a great time at last year's camp.
Josani Burke had a great time at last year’s camp.

“Last year, with the help of … people in the community and volunteer instructors, we had a very successful two weeks,” said Ms. Scott.

“This year, with the backing of the Y, I will have paid group leaders … and a paid group leader assistant.”

She added that parents and older teens are welcome to be camp volunteers with advance notice.

“Our instructors will be mostly community volunteers … [who] have experience in the rich culture and heritage of our islands,” said Ms. Scott. “This camp will be very similar to last year in as far as events, with one or two new activities to keep repeat attendees engaged.”

Some of the elements campers can look forward to again this summer are the handline fishing field trip during the first week, and a visit to a goat farm during the second week.

“Also this year, we will again have Bonnie Scott Edwards, a National Trust and DOE volunteer, who brought in baby turtles last year and taught us all about their conservation,” she said.

“It should be interesting to see what she brings in this year, as she is not only the turtle lady, she is the iguana and bird lady of the Brac.”

The camp takes place Monday to Friday at Heritage House and costs $50/week, with a $5 sibling discount for families with more than one child enrolled, and includes off-site field trips.

For more information contact Simone Scott [email protected] or 917-7718.