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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 7:38 pm | Fair 56º


Kids Have a Field Day at YMCA Summer Olympics

Hundreds of children from six local communities enjoy a day of fun and games at Manning Park

As 400 children and 50 leaders converged on Montecito’s Manning Park on Wednesday in brightly hued shirts, the otherwise serene park was transformed into a scene of chaos and color. An annual event for the past 15 years, the YMCA Summer Olympics kicked off with a plethora of three-legged races, water fights and tug-of-war games.

Busloads of children from the Channel Islands group of YMCAs emptied out, and groups from Santa Barbara, Montecito, Camarillo, Ventura, Santa Ynez and Lompoc enjoyed the festivities.

Montecito YMCA executive director Joan Price was in attendance at the park, where the event has been held for the past two years. “They don’t look like they’re having any fun at all,” she said jokingly over the joyful din of the children.

Having children from six communities is one of the day’s high points, she said. “It builds connection and community,” Price said. “We think kids enjoy meeting other children. The staff do, too.”

The YMCA also hosts Summer Residence Camps, where children from different communities spend a week in the Sierra in August. Many of the campers met previously at the Summer Olympics, Price said. The residence camp runs Aug. 2-9 for seventh through 10th grades and Aug. 9-15 for fourth through sixth grades.

Amid a floundering economy, Price said the YMCA has seen an increase in scholarships. “A number of the children who are here are because of scholarships,” she said of Wednesday’s Olympics.

Scholarships and spaces are still open for the August Sierra trips, which are sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation and the Y’s Kids to Camp Campaign.

“One of the things about the Y is that it’s open to all,” Price said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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