Westfield YMCA to host first Winter Solstice celebration

Dec. 12, 2019 | Dennis Hackett

WESTFIELD – The Greater Westfield YMCA will be hosting its first-ever Winter Solstice event at Camp Shepard Dec. 21, with a plethora of activities for the whole family.

Camp Director Lauren Caprile said they are offering events for the whole family from 1 to 4 p.m. “Our event is at the Chalet we have on camp property and we’ll have hot chocolate and arts and crafts in there. Then down the hill at our pond will have a bonfire going, snowshoes for the kids and our archery instructor will be out there doing winter archery,” she said.

After the family activities conclude at 4 p.m., Caprile said they will then have a luminary hike at 5 p.m. for teenagers and adults. “They’ll meet at the bathhouse on the camp’s main side and we’ll take a hike through the woods. Bring your headlamps, flash lights and trekking poles, it should be a nice evening to walk around and enjoy the solstice,” she said.

She explained that any families interested in the event can come at any time from 1 to 4 p.m. and do not have to be there right when it starts. “It runs from 1-4 but it’s more of a drop-in basis with the activities that we have. You can come at one o’ clock and stay as long as you want, but we’re not going to count it against you if you’re late,” she said.

Caprile, who is in her first year as the director but worked at the camp for four years before taking over, said they want to hold the event to add some activities to Camp Shepard’s offseason.

“We’re trying to develop more activities for the offseason so it doesn’t just get left until the summertime,” she said, “We want to have more family events to spread the word of camp and give people a unique experience they wouldn’t otherwise have in the wintertime.”

Registration for the event is $10 for a family of five to attend and they must register at the YMCA ahead of the event, Caprile said. “We are requiring people to register at the Y beforehand so we can gauge the numbers. We’re really stressing to push families to register ahead of time because unfortunately we cannot accept registrations at the camp.”

She added they will collect donations during the day and all proceeds from the event will go directly back into the Y to pay for supplies, programming and scholarships for their camps.

She added that she and the rest of the YMCA are excited to hold an outdoor event during the winter. “I’m very excited for it, we have our Leaders Club helping and volunteering as well. It should be a good event, we’re really excited to get outside and keep camp alive during the winter,” Caprile said.

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