YMCA acquires Camp Niwana from Camp Fire, plans more summer programs

The YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties has partnered with Camp Fire of Central Puget Sound to take over ownership of Camp Niwana in Port Orchard.

The camp now will be known as YMCA Camp Lake Helena.

The location will be used as a day camp for the YMCA for children during the summer.

“It’s something we need in the area. It will allow us to add a lot more people to day camps,” said Jonny Eberle, communications director for the YMCA.

The YMCA was approached by Camp Fire in 2015 to buy the location. The site was being used only one week per year.

YMCA officials studied the site for four years before decided to move ahead with the $1.3 million purchase, Eberle said.

This location is 134 acres at 11606 Ranch Dr. SW in Port Orchard.

During camps, a wide range of activities will be provided, including archery, boating, swimming, arts, sports and games centered around YMCA’s core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

Summer camps have been a service provided by YMCA for over 100 years. Eberle said the new camp is essential as YMCA’s Camp Seymour typically fills up extremely fast. The new camp site gives the YMCA the opportunity to expand its reach to multiple families.

“The summer experience is very important for us. We want to be there for kids and allow them to learn and grow over the summer. This is a great opportunity to reach out to more people,” Eberle said.

The YMCA hopes to allow use of the camp after summer as well, allowing schools to learn about the ecosystem and environment.

There will be an open house from 1-4 p.m. on May 18, giving people the opportunity to tour the facility, speak with camp staff and sign up for summer programs.

The cost to attend the camp is $249 per week for YMCA members and $254 per week for community members. Financial assistance can be provided by the YMCA. Bus pick-up and drop-off at seven locations stretching from Tacoma to Silverdale also will be provided from July 1 to Aug. 23.

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