Camp Sokokis for children at the YMCA of Southern Maine on Pomerleau Street in Biddeford opens Monday, June 17 and runs for 10 consecutive weeks this summer. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD – With summer vacation just a breath away, the YMCA of Southern Maine is gearing up to kick off a season of fun for kids.

Located at the YMCA of Southern Maine Northern York County Branch, Camp Sokokis on Pomerleau Street in Biddeford will again host its 10-week day camp programming this summer, providing a safe place for parents to send their kids for daily summer activities.

“We understand that there is a stress on working families right now,” said YMCA of Southern Maine President and CEO Helen Breña. “We know it can be hard to find the right place to send their children, and we want to be that safe place.”

For programs at the YMCA, providing affordable childcare for families is paramount. According to information provided by the YMCA of Southern Maine, childcare can be cost-prohibitive for some families, leaving them struggling to make ends meet and also care for their children.

“If families don’t have reliable, affordable child care in the summer, they can’t work,” said Sen. David Woodsome (R- North Waterboro) in a press release. “When a parent leaves the workforce because they can’t find childcare, employers, who are already struggling to find and retain workers, are left shorthanded. This places a heavy burden on families, businesses, and our community.”

Enter the YMCA of Southern Maine, which offers financial assistance to families in need, ensuring that every child can have the chance to spend their summers at the YMCA. According to Breña, accepting subsidies like Aspire and others sets the YMCA apart from most other camps.

“Last year we provided over $475,000 in assistance to families,” Breña said. “One of the things that makes us stand out is that we are truly committed to serving all families, regardless of their financial standings.”

Days at the camp run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To continue its mission of being a champion of the working parent, the YMCA of Southern Maine summer camp programs also offer free before- and after-care, with before care from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and after-care from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Breña herself is passionate about the programs the organization offers. She has been the CEO and President of the YMCA of Southern Maine since 2006, and has been a member of the “Y Movement” for over 30 years. The “Y Movement” refers to the long history of the YMCA that began in London in 1844, and continues locally, nationally and internationally.

“We continue to teach our students about giving back to others and to think about the other kids internationally,” Breña said.

While the summer can be a time of upheaval for students, sending them to summer camp, according to Breña, can provide not only fun, but the much desired structure to their days. The programs at the YMCA of Southern Maine offer an opportunity for children to grow and be nurtured all summer.

“Our goal is all about youth development, to nurture their potential,” Breña said. “We want every child to feel seen.”

There are still slots open for some of the upcoming weeks of camp. To register a child for the Camp Sokokis program or any of the other four locations that are part of the YMCA of Southern Maine, visit

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at [email protected].

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