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Family Y Hiring More Local Youth to Serve as Counselors at Camp Mahackeno

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The Westport Weston Family Y is still accepting applications for counselors to join its summer staff at Camp Mahackeno. The summer day camp, located at the Family Y’s 32-acre Mahackeno Outdoor Center along the Saugatuck River in Westport, welcomed its first campers June 25 for the first of four two-week sessions, to be followed by a season-ending Special Events week Aug. 20-24.

“We were projecting slightly higher enrollment this summer from last year and staffed appropriately, but are happy to report that registration of new campers has stayed strong over the past couple of weeks,” said Meaghan George, Camp and Youth Director. “Families finalize their summer plans later and later each year, and we’re glad that they are choosing to have their children spend at least part of the summer with us.”

A Westport summer tradition since the early 1940s, Camp Mahackeno employs about 55 local youth and adults each summer as counselors, guards, specialists and maintenance staff. An additional 25 to 30 youth find summer jobs at the downtown Y, working as counselors and aides for the Hafaday Swim Lesson Program and other summer camps.

Though many Mahackeno counselors are former campers or returning staff members, the Family Y hires and trains a number of new counselors each season. Requirements are that candidates be 18 or older and have experience with children. Applications may be submitted to Meaghan George at the Y’s downtown facility or via email, mgeorge@westporty.org.

As part of the YMCA of the USA’s focus on strengthening community through youth development, Ys throughout the country are participating in the White House Summer Jobs+ Initiative. The initiative is a call to action for American businesses, nonprofits and government to provide youth with pathways to employment.

According to a recent report by the White House Council for Community Solutions, the recession has had a particularly hard impact on youth employment, as at least one in six people ages 16 to 24 is unemployed. The U.S. Labor Dept. reports that 48.8 percent of youth between the ages of 16-24 were employed in July 2011, the month when youth employment usually peaks. That was significantly lower than the 59.2 percent of youth who were employed five years ago and 63.3 percent of youth who were employed 10 years ago.

“The Family Y has been a leader in providing youth with summer employment and internship opportunities for generations,” says Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO. “This summer the Family Y will once again provide local youth an enriching, meaningful learning experience that not only helps them develop character and job skills but a path to future employment.”

With some 250 full- and part-time employees, the Family Y is one of the area’s largest employers. Through its Lifeguard Training courses, conducted in partnership with the American Red Cross, the Family Y also enables dozens of teens and young adults to become certified lifeguards each year. The Family Y employs about a third of these lifeguards; many of the rest are hired by the Town of Westport and private clubs around Fairfield County.  The Family Y also participates in internship programs sponsored by Staples High School, welcoming a number of graduating seniors each spring.

To learn more about job opportunities, programs and activities at the Family Y, call 203-226-8981 or visit westporty.org.

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