By Audrey Spencer
The Cove Herald
Echoes of dribbling basketballs and squeaking sneakers are a constant at the Armed Services YMCA Family Center during the summer months.
Though it offers several summer camps and programs to benefit children, teens and adults, their regular offerings of $1 per day facility use are most popular, especially with the younger teenage boys.
"The kids love basketball," said Doreen Vasseur, director of the Copperas Cove Armed Services YMCA. "We try to do different things, but they always want to play."
Opening at noon for children ages 12 and older, the facility offers sports, pool, board games and video games in a supervised environment.
Being an option to "keep kids off the streets" isn't just a phrase for YMCA employees. Soon-to-be 13, Irez Ramirez uses the organization's facilities to practice volleyball with her friends because she plans to sign up in the coming school year.
"I'd just be home or walking around Cove," she said of what she would do if she wasn't coming to the center. "I like being with friends and being able to practice."
The social aspect of the center, tied in with being able to play sports, is a big draw for several children who use it.
Myrakyle Taylor, 14, said she has friends at the center she knows from school and from other places.
"I have nothing else to do over the summer," she said. "I like seeing my friends and hanging out."
The Copperas Cove YMCA partners with the YMCA Teen Center in Harker Heights to provide movie and laser tag outings during the summer.
"We are a family center," said Vasseur. "We used to be a teen center, but we wanted to focus on being a more traditional Y."
For members with children under the age of 12, the YMCA has a full-care children's camp from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at its Copperas Cove City Park location for $75 per week, plus a $25 registration fee. The camp includes swimming outings and weekly field trips, for additional fees.
Revved Up Summer P.E., a physical education program, is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays through Aug. 2 for children ages 5 to 14. The program is $25 for members and $40 for non-members.
The center also offers boot camp and Zumba fitness classes for adults and tae kwon do classes for children year-round.
"It's a safe place for kids to come," said Vasseur. "This generation seems so focused on being in a room (alone) that they're becoming socially awkward. They don't know how to be with people."
Employees at the YMCA try to teach lessons in manners, listening and sharing to children using the facility, as well as provide role models. The center is a "home away from home" for some, said Vasseur.
The YMCA is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Applications and fliers on programs can be picked up at the center, 501 Clara Drive. Residents can also call (254) 542-2851 or go to asymca.net for more information.
Contact Audrey Spencer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7476.