Ayer Parks rolls out YO! for Ayer, Shirley youth
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AYER — The Ayer Parks Department is offering several youth sports camps and clinics to the Ayer and Shirley community, including a new roll-out camp called YO!

YO!, which stands for youth outdoors, is a new program being offered this summer that encourages children and families to become more active outdoors.

“This involves trying to get kids more interested in outdoor activities like hiking and camping,” said Jeff Thomas, supervisor of recreation and maintenance. “As we expand we hope to be able to offer more outdoor opportunities such as fishing and orienteering, those types of activities.”

Thomas said further developing YO! and other programs will depend on the volunteer base the town is able to attract to offer these expansions.

“Right now we have a good base of about half a dozen individuals who want to offer their experience to these kids,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the department ran into minor scheduling issues due to the snow, which caused the school year to extend.

“It made it a real challenge to schedule all our camps because we try to have them run consecutively and not overlap each other so children can participate in as many as they’d like,” Thomas said.

To keep costs low, the town barters with organizations to have them run certain camps and clinics, such as the New England Blizzard softball coaches and players.

“We allow them to use our fields for a variety of their activities and in return we ask them to put on a camp for the girls of Ayer and Shirley,” Thomas said.

The town kept the camps and clinics at a relatively low cost, with some being offered for as little as $20, according to Thomas.

“We are still keeping them in what we think is a low threshold for our community, which is economically diverse,” Thomas said. “We appreciate the needs of a lot of families for lower costs to have their children attend certain camps.”

The budget for these programs comes at no cost to Ayer taxpayers.

“They are all self-funded or need little funding in the first place,” Thomas said. “But all the programs are mandated to be self-funded. ”

Information about the youth sport camps and more can be found online at www.ayer.ma.us.