Is Social Emotional Learning Your Child’s Next Summer Adventure?

By Andra Coberly Webster, YMCA of Northern Colorado April 12, 2021

When you’re a kid, feelings are hard. When you’re a kid challenged with virtual learning, 

social isolation and a whole lot of fear and unknown, feelings are a monster.

👹 A monster under the bed. 👹

For many parents guiding their children through the pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that young people these days may need meaningful support to help them smoothly navigate their emotional ups and downs. Let’s be honest, even pre-pandemic, depression, anxiety and suicide rates in young people were on the rise. From racial injustice to gun violence to political unrest, we can all agree that turmoil and conflict have become ever present.

It’s a lot for a little human to process.

That’s why the YMCA of Northern Colorado has put social and emotional learning at the forefront of its summer day camps. In 2021, as children return to YMCA camp sites throughout Boulder, Weld and Larimer counties, they will discover something beyond archery, crafts and cannonballs in the pool. Their next great summer camp adventure may just involve empathy, sharing circles and conversations about identity and mindfulness.

Social and emotional learning, or SEL, is the process of learning, developing and using social and emotional skills to effectively manage emotions, meet goals and express empathy for others.

We are excited about the SEL-based curriculum we have developed,” says Julia Capnerhurst, Executive Director of School Age Programs and Day Camp for the YMCA of Northern Colorado. “It’s a meaningful curriculum that promotes each child's growth and expands their emotional intelligence. This type of programming will focus on helping kids learn how to make connections, build relationships and enhance their time at camp with positive social experiences."

Click image above for more info on YMCA of Northern Colorado Summer Camps

 Throughout the summer, YMCA campers will have opportunities to share their experiences during sharing circles, practice positive self-talk and learn critical problem-solving skills. Staff will introduce coping skills to manage frustration, sadness and stress. Each camp will have a cool-down area where kids can take some time to relax, try mindfulness techniques and talk with professionally trained SEL staff, if they want.

 "The goal is for our staff to incorporate SEL concepts into their interactions with our campers, in the language they use and in addressing behavioral issues,” Capnerhurst says. “We want social and emotional learning to be a part of our camp culture — not just something on our daily schedule."


After the challenges of 2020 and 2021, the Y is ready to make a difference in the lives of campers — helping make their feelings a little less scary.

The YMCA of Northern Colorado is now registering children for summer day camp programs in Boulder, Lafayette, Louisville, Longmont, Berthoud, Loveland, Johnstown and south Fort Collins. Visit for details.