COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The YMCA of Metropolitan Columbus, Ga. held their annual summer camp Olympics on Friday after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Olympics allow children to compete in a variety of coed sports like basketball and soccer for a trophy. The counselors cheer the children on and are the ultimate tie-breakers at the end with a tug-of-war contest.

The event brings together all four local YMCA’s- John P. Thayer, D.A. Turner, A.J. McClung and Harris County.

Keith Jackson, a board member with the YMCA, said the number one benefit the children in the summer camp are receiving is kindness from the city.

“Our community cares about them through financial resources, through time and just across the board. They’re getting some good interaction and they’re getting some good competition too,” said Jackson.

Jackson believes that creating an investment in the children and the child-centered programs is an investment in the organization. He said the best part is giving back to the children and watching them interact among each other and grow while creating a family-like environment in the facilities.

According to the YMCA’s Director of Fitness, Scott Balkcum, the YMCA has an 85% retention rate of children every summer, many often start in the youth programs and stay through their young teen years.

11-year-old, Lacie Watts, has been attending the summer camp for the past six years. She said she enjoys the summer camp because she can play sports, meet new people and create long-lasting friendships over the years.

“The program is really cool and I like being here and I really want to stay here and for my career I think I want to work at the YMCA,” said Watts.