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‘Y’ making its presence known

Offering summer day camp, sports camps in Morris

Kids anticipate the opening tipoff of a game during the recently completed YMCA-sponsored basketball program held at White Oak Elementary School. More than 300 kids participated in the program, according to James Watts, president and CEO of the Greater Joliet YMCA
Kids anticipate the opening tipoff of a game during the recently completed YMCA-sponsored basketball program held at White Oak Elementary School. More than 300 kids participated in the program, according to James Watts, president and CEO of the Greater Joliet YMCA

As the YMCA works on a five-year plan for a facility in Morris, it’s trying to build a more physical presence in the town in which it will eventually have a location.

“We have to make our presence really well known and our programming in the community so there is a demand for the building,” said James Watts, president and CEO of the Greater Joliet YMCA.

The YMCA has 15 acres at U.S. 6 and Saratoga Road. Most of the property was donated by Mark Jorstad and Ron Evenson, and the rest purchased, said Watts.

Campaigning for funds to construct a facility will not begin for quite some time. First, the YMCA wants to build its name in the Morris community, although it has already been offering programs here for several years.

To start, a Morris Community YMCA Advisory Council was created. It is made up of local individuals, including Chairman Kevin Olson of Grundy Bank, Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg of Coal City School District Unit 1, Guy Christensen of Chamlin & Associates, Susie Galloway of Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers, Donna Jeschke of Mazon, and Melissa Wright, of Morris, as well as members of the YMCA staff.

“We are looking at various places with store fronts for a physical presence in town and to offer more services through that location,” said Olson.

The YMCA learned through a phone survey it conducted in November that in the Morris area, about 2,400 families said they would join a Morris YMCA.

The survey also showed that senior citizens were looking for a place to spend time and with gym equipment for them, said Olson, as well as other services. By finding a store front for now, they can offer some of these services and build up awareness of the YMCA.

“We are really excited about the survey because it showed the likelihood of a building being successful,” said Watts.

In addition, more summer camp programs are being offered in Morris this summer, including 10 sports camps.

“I sat down for each camp and asked who would be the best person in Morris, Ill., for this camp and contacted them, and every single one agreed to help,” said Ken Iverson, YMCA program director.
Many of the camps are going to be run by area high school students, with the assistance of community members such as Kelly Dransfeldt, former major league baseball player, helping to instruct the baseball camp in July; former Morris and University of Illinois wrestler John Dergo for the wrestling camp; and Morris High softball coach Jennifer Lowery for the softball camp.

Iverson said he hopes the new programs will get children away from the video games this summer.

“Through the camps, I hope it is a vehicle parents can use to get their kids out and active,” he said.

“I hope they take off and we get a nice number so it can be an annual thing we can look forward to expanding every year,” Iverson continued.

The recently completed basketball program held at White Oak Elementary School had more than 300 kids participate, said Watts.

Morris YMCA programs do not require families to be YMCA members. Residents are able to pay straight camp fees only for participation.

A summer day camp will be offered again at Saratoga School this summer and is designed for kids kindergarten through sixth grade. This camp is $100 a week per child and will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Optional before- and after-camp care is available for an additional $25 per week. Financial assistance for the camp is also available.

For the new one-week sport camps, the camps will run from 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The cost is $65 per camp, and families who register for two camps will pay $60 per camp. Three camps will be $50 per camp.


The plan for a Morris facility will take about five years. It is expected to be a smaller scale of Plainfield’s C.W. Avery Family YMCA.

The Plainfield facility is about 75,000-square-feet, said Watts. For Morris, they are looking at a 40,000-square-foot building.

The building is expected to cost about $10 million, said Watts. They are looking at many funding possibilities, so it will not have to raise the entire $10 million when it comes time for fundraising.

What the Morris facility will offer will be based on the community’s needs. The Joliet facilities offer swimming, before- and after-school programs, a fitness center, gymnasium, party room, softball fields, walking paths and space for several different types of classes.

For more information or to register for Morris YMCA camps, visit or call (815) SAY-YMCA.

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