“It makes my day to make their day,” DaeQuon Terry says. DaeQuon is a YMCA camp counselor at the Smith Family YMCA, where he and his co-counselor Brandon “Coach G” Gathers lead a tight-knit group of fifth- and sixth-grade boys. Together, DaeQuon and Coach G are something of a dynamic duo. For them, working at the Y is more than just a job. It’s a place where they can use their positive energy and outstanding leadership skills to do amazing work that has a lasting impact.
MAKING AN IMPACT
Walking into the Smith Family YMCA during a typical camp morning, you’ll hear the echoes of kids laughing and playing in the gym. Inside the gym, you’ll easily be able to spot DaeQuon and Coach G playing basketball with a group of energetic, smiling boys. It’s just as easy to see why these boys have so much fun shooting hoops with their counselors.
Both Coach G and DaeQuon have enjoyed long-lasting relationships with the YMCA. Prior to joining the Smith Family YMCA, Coach G taught sports at YMCAs in Atlanta, Georgia and Washington D.C. DaeQuon, on the other hand, grew up as a Joliet Y kid. At the age of five, he began regularly attending Y camps. Now, they both consider the Y a “second home.” Using their personal experiences as inspiration, they’re able to pay it forward by working as counselors in the YMCA’s summer camp program.
“In these walls, kids are safe. You get a home-based atmosphere,” said Coach G.
It’s this home-based environment and the opportunity to make a positive impact that makes the Y more than just a place of employment for DaeQuon and Coach G. The Y is where they can help kids feel like they belong, build relationships, develop character and discover their potential.
“The Y is where campers not only get to make friends but also learn real people skills,” DaeQuon said.
“If you want to make a difference in your child’s life, and help them make lifelong memories—send your child to the Y,” added Coach G.
Coach G also credits the YMCA Leadership Team for creating a positive work environment with a diverse staff that bring different skill sets to the table.
“We all come together for the kids,” said Coach G. “It’s like another family.”
BE A PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER
Summer Camp may be ending soon, but members, and campers alike, will continue to see this dynamic duo around the Smith Y in the months to come. While also teaching physical education at Avalon Charter School in Chicago, Coach G plans to volunteer this winter as a coach in the Y’s youth basketball league.
This fall, DaeQuon will be attending Joliet Junior College in hopes of becoming a physical education teacher and basketball coach. He will also be teaming up with Coach G to volunteer as a coach in the Y’s youth basketball league.
At the Y, the lessons our campers learn from their counselors go far beyond the walls of the gym and the lines on the basketball court. Our fantastic camp staff plays a vital part in each of our camper’s experiences at the Y. We are confident that this group of fifth- and sixth-grade boys will remember their role-model counselors for years to come, long after the last basketball swooshes through the net and camp has come to a close.
Thank you, Coach G, DaeQuon and our entire camp team for making this a fantastic summer at the Y!