An oasis from the violence and hardships of the streets“If their experience with a police officer is that their father is in jail, their uncle is arrested, how do you expect them to have a positive outlook?” said Hayley Yaffe, YMCA of Greater Boston’s director of family support and subsidized services.

One answer may be Camp Ponkapoag, and nine other day camps like it across Greater Boston. Every summer for the last 20 years, the Boston Police Department has partnered with the YMCA to identify children most in need of a few weeks at camp.

They are children whose relatives may be in jail, or may be drug users, or were recently victims of violence. They are children at risk of going down the same paths themselves.

Take 10: Seaside camp is a family affairBehind the archery targets that sit in the great field along Route 6A, nearly 380 resident campers between 8 and 17 are hanging out at their cabins, playing pickup games of Frisbee and basketball or chowing down cheese ravioli, garlic bread and “roosted vegetables” in the mess hall.

The 350 or so day campers already have headed home to rest up for another day of sailing on Cape Cod Bay, swimming, games, music, arts and crafts, and outdoor living without computer screens or cell phones on the 120-acre campground.

For Executive Director Nancy Garran, “camp,” as she calls the entire experience, is a place to “take risks and try things you’ve never done before.”

Tabor's new sunscreen dispensers help fight melanoma“We hope sunscreen dispensers will become as commonplace as hand sanitizers over the next few years,” said MFNE Executive Director Deb Girard.

Tabor installed one of its new dispensers near the waterfront and the other by the field house where morning meetings are held. In addition to the self-standing dispensers, the donation included four, 1,000-milliliter bags of all-natural SPF 30 sunscreen containing titanium and zinc.

“It’s really convenient for campers who forgot to apply sunscreen or to reload,” said Krein. “We’re starting this year with two, and we will likely purchase more for next summer and spread them out around campus.”

It's summer camp season, time to unplug and plunge into great outdoorsIn a technological age where face-to-face interactions sometimes are slim, area summer camps are hoping to "unplug" youths and help them build social skills while enjoying all the activities of the great outdoors.

"When I was a kid I spent my whole summer outside, and I was never locked inside of my house," said Alicia Charpentier, director of Camp Wamsutta at the Newman YMCA in Seekonk. "If it wasn't for camp, many kids would be tied up on their phone or in front of the television."

YMCA marks 150 years in heart of BurlingtonThe Greater Burlington YMCA’s history has similarly been marked with adaptation and innovation, with its role as summer camp provider serving as an early example.

Started in 1893 as Vermont’s first camping program, Camp Abnaki is a boys overnight camp. This year, Abnaki marks its 100th year at its current site on the shores of Lake Champlain in North Hero. While Abnaki had long provided the formative, overnight camp experience, as more women entered the workforce, it became clear that families needed more options.

Planting a meadow – at the Waltham YMCACamp Cabot is a choice-based camp where students in grades 2 through 6 choose their activities on a weekly basis. Some kids have been with Meadow Club from the start and continue to choose it week after week. Older kids in other camps at the Y have also asked to help out.

The meadow started as a patch of weedy grass, but is in the process of becoming a 10-by-60-foot flourishing garden. Passero and Devine are setting the meadow up for success with native plants that come back year after year. The plants are self-sustaining and spread on their own.

Mass Audubon campers explore North RiverMass Audubon’s North River Ramblers grabbed nets and walked right into the water at Luddham’s Ford Park in Hanover to scoop up muck from the base that they could dig through in a hunt for marine life.

They created a mini aquarium of crawfish, leeches and dragonfly nymphs, and watched the small animals interact.

“It’s fun to see what you can find,” Mary Maurano, a 13-year-old from Marshfield, said as her eyes turned toward the latest discovery—a really large frog.

Nessacus Leadership Program helps kids step up and team up for community-building projects:Facilitated by the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA at Nessacus Regional Middle School, with support from the Berkshire Outdoor Center, the program pilot offered youths entering grades 6 through 9, the chance to build multiple skill sets while working on a team to develop and put into action a community-minded project of their choosing.

 Janelle Smith, a rising seventh grader, said she appreciated the sense of empowerment she and her fellow campers felt from being given the responsibility for organizing a project. "I think we're going to make a really big change in our community," she said.

Rivera agreed, and said that sentiment is important because, "In middle school, a lot of people feel insecure, and are trying to find their place. Here, you have a chance to feel good about yourself because you did something good for others that made you smile, and you got to meet people. And that makes you want to do more things like this."

Rep. Sredzinski Tours YMCA Camp Tepee, Praises Work Helping Kids in Need Attend Summer CampJoined by the YMCA’s District Executive Director Tim Bartlett, Rep. Sredzinski toured the site which includes an aquatic area, tennis courts, and an outdoor activity area with hiking trails, rock climbing structures, and a zip line.

“The programs put on by Camp Tepee help instill self-confidence and independence in our community’s youth,” said Rep. Sredzinski. “I am impressed by the extensive grounds and also the dedicated staff I met with at the camp that work to make summer fun for hundreds of Monroe campers each year."

Gleason YMCA camp in Wareham great place for summer funThe latter program is a mark of the Gleason summer camp's success. Britto said many who started as young campers at Nep-in-Nae become camp counselors after going through the counselor-in-training program, which is open to 14-16 year-olds.

Britto said these teens started at the camp as 5 and 6-year-olds and were inspired to continue as counselors for other young campers as they grew up. "Counselors play a big role of these young kids’ lives," he said. "One counselor who started here at a young age said to me his counselors have helped him become a young man."

That's the whole point of the Gleason Y summer camp, Britto said. "We are here for young people's development. It's one of our mottos. A lot of the things kids learn here, they will carry on into their adult lives. Teamwork. Leadership. How to deal with success and failure."

Boys and Girls Club of Pawtucket’s Camp Ramsbottom celebrates 50 years of funThe Boys and Girls Club of Pawtucket’s Camp Ramsbottom, 205 Winthrop St., is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Nearly 20,000 campers and counselors have experienced the camp since it opened its doors in 1966. Now, about 850 youngsters each day enjoy the activities and safe grounds the camp has to offer.

According to James Hoyt, Boys and Girls Club of Pawtucket’s CEO, the camp has provided youngsters with “outdoor fun, opportunities to meet new friends, and in some cases, life changing experiences.”

Bedford Girl Scout Alexa Cannon Exemplifies Leadership at Camp KettlefordAlexa has been a Girl Scout since she was 6.

"Along the way, she also developed confidence, leadership skills, and an interest in helping others," Guilmet said. "Now 14, Alexa enjoys inspiring the next generation of Girl Scouts."

“I learned so many new things and it was a really cool experience,” Alexa said. “I met so many great girls!” But it wasn't all fun and games.

“There’s a lot of responsibility to being a program aide,” she said. “The younger girls really look up to you.”

City teen gets life experience through Student Leaders summer programPatience Adegboyega, a Pawtucket resident and valedictorian at Shea High School this past year, was one of five Rhode Island students selected by Bank of America to be involved in its Student Leaders program this summer.

Adegboyega worked as a counselor at the Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club and as a camp counselor at Camp Ramsbottom. Having grown up as a member of the local club, she said it was interesting to be the one guiding the younger people. She said she was forced to put herself in their shoes as she learned how to better interact with them. She was responsible for getting youth moving through song and dance.

13 EAST COAST CAMPS WHERE HOLLYWOOD STARS SPENT THEIR SUMMERS: Ben Silverman, Propagate Content chair and producer of Hands of Stone (out Aug. 26), tells THR: "I loved summer camp! It was so idyllic and fun. I remember being in the [camp production of] The Hobbit, and the kid who played the hobbit ran off the stage, and I had to riff the rest of the show and got a standing 'O.' "

Rob Sharenow, executive vp and GM of A&E and Lifetime, says of the 21 summers he spent at the camp owned by his parents (which a childhood friend of Sharenow's has since purchased): "Camp probably had the most profound effect on my adult life. I was a counselor for many years. There are few jobs that let you lead when you are 19. I was in charge of a group of kids and budgeting, things you use as a producer and executive." 

Says Sunset Tower Hotel owner Jeff Klein of his experiences there: "I was a city kid and wasn't interested in sports, and sports taught me about teamwork and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. Plus, great memories of friendship, corny stuff like that."