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Fill the Duffel

Keene Family YMCA and YMCA Camp Takodah Announce “Fill the Duffel” Initiative to Help Children in Need Attend Summer Camp

The Keene Family YMCA and YMCA Camp Takodah are partnering with the Keene Housing Kids Collaborative in providing day and sleepaway camp experiences to children living in Keene Housing. The Fill the Duffel initiative invites community members to help send children in need to camp this summer.

“Through our new Fill the Duffel initiative, we’re working to raise $35,000 to send 10 kids to Camp Takodah for two weeks and another 10 kids to the Keene Family YMCA day camp for the entire summer,” said Peter Bradshaw, a Board Member at the Takodah YMCA. “We cannot make this happen without community support.”

Summer is the ideal time for children to get up, get out, and explore. But, for some children, summer means no access to recreational and educational activities to help them learn, grow, and thrive during out-of-school time. As a result, children often experience learning loss and gain weight twice as fast as during the school year. Attending summer camp is a proven way for children to keep their minds and bodies active.

“I grew up in Manchester, NH in housing similar to Keene Housing, and I know how it feels to miss out on opportunities as a child,” said Cheryl Belair, a Board Member at the Keene Family YMCA. “The Fill the Duffel initiative is so important to me because it will open these kids’ eyes to so many possibilities.”

Just over 500 children live in Keene Housing households, and those households have an average annual income of about $23,000. School data for these children is sobering: they score about two grade levels behind their more affluent peers on standardized tests in math and reading, are absent from school at a much higher rate, and 2 out of every 5 kids who live in Keene Housing households are enrolled in special education.

“We are working to change things for kids living in Keene Housing,” said Liz Chipman, Executive Director of the Keene Housing Kids Collaborative. “We connect them to opportunities and experiences in the community that will give them the tools they need to succeed.”

“YMCA summer camps support the social-emotional growth, cognitive development and physical well-being of kids,” said Hélène Mogridge, CEO of the Keene Family YMCA. Artie Lang, Executive Director of the Takodah YMCA, added, “In our summer camps, kids are in a welcoming environment where they can belong, they’re building relationships, developing character, and discovering their potential.

If you would like to learn more about the Fill the Duffel initiative or make a tax-deductible donation to help children attend camp, please contact Ryan Reed, Camp Director of YMCA Camp Takodah, at 603.352,0447 or

Any questions, please contact:

Renee Woliver 

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