Summer camp at the Y is all about having new experiences and creating memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. Each camp season, camp participants embark on exciting adventures, learn new skills and develop a sense of community with fellow Y camp participants. And, at the heart of the Morris Community Y’s tight-knit group of campers you’ll find Youth and Family Director Sarah Porzel.
Porzel’s journey at the Y started during her college career at St. Ambrose University in Iowa. While finishing her degree in physical education, she took an internship at the Davenport YMCA. During her internship, she discovered a passion for helping children while working in the Y’s Before and After School program. Upon earning her college degree, Porzel moved back to Illinois and pursued her passion at a local YMCA in LaGrange.
In her 11-year Y career, Porzel has spent most of her time working with youth and families. Since joining the Greater Joliet Area Y team in 2011, Porzel has spearheaded countless programs in Plainfield and Morris, including the Morris Y’s summer day camp program, which will kick off its 13th year on June 3.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Porzel: I grew up in Homer Glen, IL and I attended Lockport High School, where I played softball. After high school, I attended St. Ambrose University on a softball scholarship and studied physical education/parks and recreation. After graduating from college, I served as the pitching coach for the softball team at Trinity Christian College. Now, I live in Naperville, IL.
Q: What are you most passionate about in life?
Porzel: Definitely helping kids. To me, the Y is a safe and comfortable place for children, so I like to be positive and build a connection with each of the kids in our programs—including getting to know each of them by name.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
Porzel: I love to spend time with my family, especially with my niece and nephews. I can do anything with them and have a good time!
Q: With summer camp right around the corner, what exciting activities do you have planned?
Porzel: We have a lot of new and returning activities planned this summer, including our beloved touch-a-tractor event, a field trip to Sci-Tech and planting vegetables in our raised bed gardens, which will help to teach our camp participants all about healthy eating habits.
Q: What makes YMCA camp different from other summer day camps?
Porzel: Our staff and the sense of community. We have a lot of returning summer camp staff and I make sure all of our staff receives an extensive amount of training to help give our camp participants the best summer ever. We also have a ton of support from our community, which helps make a lot of what we do possible.
Q: What is your summer day camp philosophy?
Porzel: Kids can come to camp, be themselves and explore new opportunities in a safe environment.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about summer?
Porzel: I enjoy going to country concerts and spending as much time outdoors with family and friends.
Registration for summer day camp is underway! If you have questions about youth and family programs, YMCA family events or summer day camp, be sure to stop by Porzel’s office the next time you visit the Morris Community YMCA. Or, you can email Porzel directly at [email protected].