Summer. It’s the season of fun in the sun and holidays at the beach. But for working families, summer can also be a long slog spent juggling work and looking after the kids. Community recently caught up with Celeste and Emma, two mothers who work full-time, to discuss the challenges, and how YMCA holiday programmes and camps are helping them survive the summer.

How old are your kids and how long have they been coming to YMCA holiday programmes?

Celeste: I have two kids - Austin aged 8 and Aylah aged 5. My son Austin has been coming for three years now, and this is my daughters first year.

Emma: I have an 11-year-old, Grace, and Lewis is 8 years old. My kids have been attending YMCA holiday programmes since they were 5.

Are summer holidays hard to balance with work and having the kids off school?

Celeste: Yes they are. Mainly due to trying to keep the kids interested year after year with different activities during the day. The cost of being off school is also a challenge.

: Yes it’s definitely hard to balance when the kids are off for six weeks. You want them to enjoy the long summer days at home, playing with friends and out on their bikes or scooters, but unfortunately most parents don’t want to take all their holidays at this time of year, and maybe don’t have much annual leave. Holiday programmes are a good solution for us, especially as we don’t have family around to help.

“Kids just want to have fun and be kept active, and the YMCA instructors do it very well.”

What do the kids enjoy about the YMCA holiday programmes?

Celeste: Variety. They look forward to different destinations and different activities leading up to every school holidays. Kids just want to have fun and be kept active, and the YMCA instructors do it very well.

Emma: They enjoy swimming at the pools, and the staff at the facility. The holiday programme team have a big influence on the kids – if the staff are engaged and happy then it shows in the kids. They also enjoy the days when they go out bowling or play mini-golf, or the craft days where they are able to bring home something they made and show it off.

What are the benefits of YMCA holiday programmes, camps or after-school care?

Celeste: The YMCA instructors are great. They are professional and organised when dealing with parents who can be stressed out or late, and show the kids enthusiasm and warmth.

Emma: It’s a good structure and safe environment with loads of fun activities where the kids can make new friends and relate to adults other than their teachers. Memories are huge, as well - my kids still talk about the YMCA camp and the activities they did!

YMCA offers a range of great value holiday programmes in 17 locations across Auckland, the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, including holiday camps at Shakespear Lodge and Camp Adair in Auckland.

YMCA is a child-safe accredited organisation, and all holiday and after school care programmes are audited by the Ministry of Social Development.