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For goodness snakes: YMCA summer day campers make reptile friends

By Nathan Hardin
nhardin@salisburypost.com
East Rowan YMCA summer day campers got a cold-blooded treat at the South Rowan YMCA on Monday.
The campers had a chance to see a slide show about reptiles, touch a variety of snakes, and even hold 14-foot Penelope the Python.
The “Snakes Alive” event is just one of the many activities the YMCA Summer Day Camp incorporates into its schedule to help kids learn about different aspects they may not be subjected to otherwise.
Chris Keller, an 11-year-old who has been in the summer program for two weeks, said Monday’s activity was the most fun yet.
“The python was my favorite part,” he said.
The campers were allowed to touch the 150-pound python and those who were brave enough even got to hold the massive snake.
Ron Cromer runs Snakes Alive Inc. in High Point and has been a full-time lecturer since 1982. Cromer holds programs at places ranging from elementary schools to colleges.
“The fun thing for the kids is learning about snakes, identifying snakes and being able to see and touch them,” Cromer said.
“Eew,” several students said when Cromer pulled out an Indonesian Blue Tongue Skink.
“A skink is a lizard with snake-like skin,” Cromer explained after the students’ groans subsided.
Sarah Zander, family services director at the East Rowan YMCA, explained this event is always a very popular one.
But as popular as this event is, the camp’s numbers are down this year.
“The sad fact is that people are finding others to watch their children,” Zander said.
Zander has been forced to combine her summer camp age groups but is hopeful because they have continued to operate. Groups that were once divided between elementary school and middle school ages are now grades one to eight.
“Many other YMCAs have had to shut down their summer camps due to lack of sign-ups,” said Zander. “Thankfully, we’ve been able to maintain quality, busy weeks for our campers.”
All YMCAs have camps that include swimming and trips to the library. Specialty week-long camps include: triathlon camp, sports maniac camp and cheerleading camp, according to Zander.
Summer Day Camp registration is ongoing, and the camp lasts until Aug. 25. To register, complete the registration packet at your local YMCA.

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