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Social Media and Kids

KVYMCA Program Coordinator and Camp Director, Johanna King

The never ending debate on how old is old enough to participate in social media can be tricky, especially since it is now readily available to people of all ages, children in particular. This week’s Monday Maine Maven, KVYMCA program coordinator and Camp KV director, Johanna King, is well aware of the pressure and bullying that can be found on social media sites, but she believes many concerns can be resolved with open communication, education on social media etiquette and programs that instill positive self-esteem.

King has been working with children for a very long time. She started coaching soccer camps in high school, volunteered at her church’s summer Bible school and did a lot of babysitting. Since graduating from the University of Maine at Orono, she has worked part-time at Indian Elementary School as a tutor and, after receiving her ACE certification as a group exercise instructor, she landed a job working for the KVYMCA as their program coordinator and camp director.

Johanna gives a high-five to a camper last summer.

This role has been a perfect fit. Johanna says, “I went to so many camps growing up and have wonderful memories of camp. It is great to be on the other side of the experience and be able to help create those same great memories for kids today.” A part of this experience is using social media to share these memories with the parents of summer campers.

Johanna King has a firm grasp on social media needs for organizations like the KVYMCA. King adds, “People don’t want to sit down and read a long brochure, they want their information to be more succinct using images and less text; they want information from sites they’re already using such as Facebook and Twitter.” Johanna says that is why social media awareness is so important for not only children, but for communities as well. The information received is the information that is given, and so much of that information is found through the daily use of social media.

That is why King says, “This year, my goal is to update the YMCA Facebook page with a picture and short description each day for the parents to check out while they are at work or at home to see what their children are up to throughout the day.” Facebook and other social media sites are increasing awareness of the KVYMCA and their programs, but one new program is particularly popular due the Olympian namesake that hosts the session.

Johanna with Learning Center Director, Ranae L’Italien and Olympian, Julia Clukey during a recent camp program planning session.

That Olympian would be Julia Clukey. Johanna says, “Social media definitely plays a part in the need for programs like Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls. It is incredibly important to teach kids that their self-worth isn’t correlated to how many Facebook friends they have or how many people have liked their status updates.”

During a recent planning meeting with Clukey and the KV Camp team, they were able to establish the curriculum of this summer’s program. The camp will feature themes such as “Be Healthy,” “Be Your Best,” and “Be Caring.” Kings says, “We received wonderful feedback from parents of Clukey campers and we know that we will be having a lot of repeat campers, so it is important that we present the information in a way that is new to the girls that attended last year.” Programs such as Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls help promote positive reflections of oneself, resulting in confident young women.

To learn more about the summer programs offered by the KVYMCA and to connect with Johanna, you may email her at johanna@kvymca.org.