By SHELLE HERTZ, guest columnist

I’m the new program director at the Brown County YMCA. But I’m not new to Brown County.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, I began to fall in love with this area when I came to summer camp here as a child. I also spent many years steering parents through the ins and outs of summer camp in Brown County.

In the months and years ahead, I hope to build upon our current programs to meet the diverse needs of our entire community. I’d love to hear your ideas about what programs you’d like to see here at the Y.

To help you find any gaps in our programming, here’s a quick summary of some of the programs we currently offer.

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Group exercise

We offer many group exercise programs that focus on your mind, body and spirit, such as Zumba, Tabata, Men’s Core, Aqua Power, Yoga, Tai Chi and Cardio Core. Most of these classes run on a six-week rotation. Feel free to call or stop by the Y for more information.

Youth development

This summer we offered Summer Enrichment options for families in our community. We started with a program titled Arts Alive. This was an awesome chance for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders to create sculpture, make paper, and use natural items to create paint brushes and stamps.

Outdoor Discovery and Outdoor Challenge was another popular enrichment program. These were held at CYO Camp Rancho Framasa and offered to children from kindergarten to sixth grade. Each day they experienced new adventures, such as fire building, rock climbing, archery, compass challenge, kayaking and shelter building.

We offered four weeks of swim lessons at Brown County State Park. This was a great opportunity for us to partner with the park and utilize their guards to increase water awareness, safety and swimming skills for kids of all ages.

We are also excited about our new seventh-grade membership program. The Y is partnering with the junior high to offer a free membership to every seventh-grader in Brown County. We are still working out the final details. We hope that we will be able to ease some of the anxiety associated with becoming a teenager, going to a new school, making new friends and dealing with peer pressure.

Senior health

Youth are an important part of our mission. But Brown County seniors are also alive and well at the YMCA. The Y partners with Thrive Alliance to offer free lunch for seniors five days a week. Lunch begins at 11:30. For more information, contact Ryan Dodge at or 812-720-1061.

Silver Sneakers is a very successful program at the Y. We offer Silver Sneakers Classic free to anyone over age 55. This is a fitness program using weights, resistance bands, a ball and a chair. Participants will strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and improve their cardiovascular endurance. It is also a great way to

be social. The Y also offers Silver Sneakers Splash and Silver Sneakers Yoga classes.

We are excited to be able to partner with the Mill Race Center in Columbus to offer travel opportunities for anyone 55 and older. These trips range from lunch out, to day trips, overnights, cruises and even overseas trips. Contact Edie Smith at the Mill Race Center for more information on upcoming trips, 812-376-9241 ext. 215.

If you have always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, banjo or dulcimer, you can register for Senior Strings with Kara Barnard. This is another great way to keep you mind sharp, learn something new and be social, plus instruments are provided if you need one.

And much more

But that’s only the beginning. Here are a few other current activities:• We held our first Pickleball For the Fun of It Tournament and look forward to hosting another one sometime this fall.

• We installed new fitness equipment on the Salt Creek Trail, thanks to a grant received from the Brown County Community Foundation and installed by YMCA board members along with the expertise of Play Indiana.

• We are hosting a new Artist in the Making program on Sept. 17. This is an opportunity for you to learn how to paint with oil on canvas. Local artist John Barrett will teach us, step by step, how to create our own Brown County scene.

• Don’t forget that October brings the YMCA’s Trick or Treat on the Trail. This is always a lot of fun for local families, and for Y staff and volunteers.

• Lastly, we are gearing up for our Hilly Half Marathon to be held on Saturday, Nov. 12. Besides the half marathon, there will also be a 10K, a 5K and a Kids’ Run. We are hoping to showcase our county, promote health and well-being and make this an annual fundraiser for the Y.

So what should be next?

We would like to serve our county in other ways, too, and would appreciate any input you might have. At the Y we focus on the importance of being healthy in mind, body and spirit, youth development, community responsibility, and senior wellness. If your needs are not being met or you have an activity that fits our mission, let us know.Feel free to contact me with your suggestions and insights at or 812-988-9622. And don’t forget to stop by and say hello.

Shelle Hertz began working at the Y in April. She has a degree from Indiana University in Recreation and Parks Administration with an emphasis in programming. She is a lifeguard instructor, a CPR and First Aid instructor, and a volunteer for the NCAA.