Parents must capitalize on fun, exercise close to home

Published 12:09 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2012

By ALDO AMATO / Staff Writer

In the age of iPhones, iPads and Twitter, the art of physical activity has become a rarity. Far too often instead of making an effort to go outside and look at some of the city’s most beautiful landmarks, we’d rather park ourselves in front of a laptop and let Google Maps take care of it. Yes, there’s an app for that.

But no matter how much good technology has done and how it has changed the landscape of this country, it has pushed summer activity to the brink of extinction. The younger generation has been hit the most and parents often find themselves with limited options during the summer months as far as childcare and activity go.

Pelham YMCA Director Lane Vines said the facilities in Pelham and Alabaster offer a wide range of activities.

“They are a great resource,” he said. “Campers can do a variety of things at the park and hang out at the beach so there is a lot that they offer.”

That is why attending camps, specialty or not, at the local YMCA’s are one of many options parents can and must take advantage of. Yes, we may be living in a down economy and money may be tight these days but an outlet like the YMCA is too good not to take advantage of. In fact, they will work with families who find themselves gripped by the financial turmoil.

By attending camps at the YMCA, children of all ages can find themselves exposed to something they see far to less of, the great outdoors. In fact, the Pelham and Alabaster branches have a longstanding partnership with Oak Mountain State Park. The park offers countless opportunities, like going to the beach along Double Oaks Lake, that can cut down on travel time and expenses compared to going to the Gulf Coast.

Yes, the YMCA is no Orange Beach, however the amount of activities one can find there are equal to that of taking a lengthy vacation. Along to go with precious vacation time, the YMCA offers kids an outlet to values like sportsmanship, teamwork and ever important social skills which tend to be taken for granted. One cannot find those things in an Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but rather through interaction with their fellow peers.

Vines said the YMCA also offers youth an introduction to team sports to help build important values.

“All of our branches do youth sports,” he said. “They practice one day a week and have a short tourney at the end.”

So in an era of what seems like constant video stimulation, both parents and children should take advantage of a dying art, physical activity. Your local YMCA’s offer just that and more.

Aldo Amato is a staff writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached by email at