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YMCA outdoor recreation center set to open on Saturday

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer

Starting Saturday, Lincolnton YMCA members will be able to enjoy at least five more acres of play area with the facility’s grand opening of phase I of its Camp Creekside Outdoor Recreation Center.
“The new outdoor recreation center will add a whole new dimension to the programming of the Lincoln County Family YMCA,” Executive Director Jeff Townsend said. “We are excited to see it come to fruition.”
Townsend’s also serves as head of the Sally’s YMCA in Denver.
Plans for the new $200,000 phase I of the Recreation Center commenced several years ago with ground-breaking taking place last year.
The outdoor facility will expand with two more phases in the future with a total Recreation Center cost of at least half a million dollars. The nonprofit organization has relied heavily on donations from its members and the community to fund the facility.
YMCA officials hope the outdoor addition will expand its sports programming to both children and adults, encourage spiritual growth and exploration and make for an overall healthier community.
Currently, children’s camps and other outdoor sports programs are forced to use indoor amenities and a small strip of land located near a creek that rests adjacent to the facility.
Once all phases are completed, members can take advantage of sports fields, a sand volleyball court, a low ropes course and hiking trails, which have been designed to link to the old hospital trails.
“Campers will have access to more open space,” Townsend said.
Despite the limited space campers have had to use over the years, Townsend said that parent surveys and reviews last year voted the local facility the top YMCA facility in the Charlotte region. The Lincoln County Family YMCA is one of nearly 20 facilities that operates under the umbrella group of YMCA of Greater Charlotte.
“The new fields will only allow us to provide an even higher level of programming to our kids and families,” Townsend said.
He’s particularly delighted about the addition of a 75-seat outdoor chapel as a reminder of the organization’s Christian foundation.
“It’s important to offer our members opportunities to explore their spirituality,” he said. “This is a great place for groups to come together for worship or for individuals to connect with God and nature.”
While the Recreation Center will be open to members only, YMCA officials noted that with permission, the facility, particularly the trails, will be available for community events and other public programs.
“Businesses and organizations can utilize them for team-building exercises,” Townsend said.
YMCA officials are also working to offer youth soccer and flag football teams on the new sports fields. Donations are currently being accepted to fund a playground, bathrooms and large pavilion on the Recreation Center site.
Townsend told the Times-News that he believed the new facilities would aid in achieving the YMCA’s three main focus areas — youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
The Recreation Center’s grand opening will be 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the Lincoln County Family YMCA, located at 1402 E. Gaston Street in Lincolnton. Activities will include a tour of the new facility, a chapel dedication, a large inflatable slide, music, giveaways and more. The Splash Park will also be open to the public. For more information, visit ymcacharlotte.org/lincoln or call (704) 748-9311.
The Lincoln County Family YMCA has been in operation since 2001.

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