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Camp Owahta to offer Family Matters program

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Camp Owahta camper Mallory MacDonnell, 12, of Hoboken, right, plays a dodgeball game with fellow campers and counselors Friday in Solon. The camp will host several family-friendly events in the coming weeks.

Families will get a chance to bond while climbing ropes, swimming or hiking nature trails at Camp Owahta on Aug. 5, all part of a special program geared toward the importance of family togetherness, called Family Matters.

The program, developed in 2013, is a collaboration between the Cortland County Mental Health Association, Cortland Prevention Resources, Family Support Services, Coordinated Children’s Services Initiative, Catholic Charities and Cortland County Family and Children’s Services.

This year, Cornell Cooperative Extension has lent Camp Owahta to be used from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. said Chris Driscoll, coordinator of Coordinated Children’s Services Initiative.

The event is one of four planned throughout the year, said Driscoll, and the first at Camp Owahta.

Some events families can participate in while there include the low ropes course, swimming, hiking nature trails, face painting and a prepared barbecue.

“The goal of the event and the program is to offer families a fun day that doesn’t cost anything, highlights the importance of families spending time together, and promotes mental and physical wellness,” Driscoll said.

The events are geared toward children ages 8 to 14 years old but that age range can be flexible, Driscoll said.

Families can RSVP by calling Alma Johnson at 607-423-3437. A maximum of 140 people are allowed.

Another program, separate from Family Assists, is also geared toward helping youths during the summer months.

The Youth Assist Program, run by Cortland Prevention Resources, offers weekly activities in July and August for kids age 9 and older who want extra support during the summer months.

Parents have to call to set up an appointment to join the program, said Leslie Wilkins, director of Cortland Prevention Resources.

The supervised activities start Thursday and continue July 18, July 25, Aug. 1, Aug. 8, Aug. 26 and Aug. 29.

The activities are free and guided by trained mentors, geared toward helping develop social skills, build relationships and life skills and improve self esteem, Wilkins said.

Youth Assist offers mentoring sessions beginning in September and February, pairing a youth in grades 5 to 12 with a college student for 10 weeks.

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