WINTHROP — “I caught a frog!”

Julia Dyer, 6, approached a water-filled bucket at the YMCA Camp with both of her hands wrapped around a “ginormous” frog. Moments later, she battled to keep the frog in the container as it fruitlessly tried to escape back into the pond from where it was withdrawn.

Dyer, her parents Ben and Kate, and her brother, Henry, 4, were one of two families that attended Saturday’s Family Fun Day at the YMCA Camp, organized by the Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed.

Around 10 a.m., the Dyers, along with their friend Jessica Weber, and her daughter, Isabel Gorriti, 5, were romping around near a pond near the entrance to the camp. The children joyfully filled containers with pond critters and used a chart to identify them. Later in the day, the families built shelters and went swimming in Cobbossee Lake.

Cami Wilbert, education and outreach director for the Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed, said the free event was advertised well online, but didn’t garner much attention. Wilbert said her organization normally offers day camps for children, but the camps were not offered due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said she decided to host a Family Fun Day so families could “have fun being outside.”

All of the attendees and staff on Saturday were wearing masks or keeping a safe distance from each other. Wilbert said the event could have sustained five families, and they would have been distanced across the YMCA Camp’s campus.

Kate Dyer shows her 4-year-old son, Henry Dyer, the frog she netted Saturday during Friends of the Cobbossee Watershed Family Fun event at Maine State Y Camp in Winthrop. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“The program sounded so great,” Kate Dyer said. “My kids do this on a regular basis; this is so up their alley.”

Kate Dyer, a nurse practitioner, said her husband, an attorney working largely from home, took on most of the childcare responsibilities while she worked full-time during the first months of the pandemic. Now the children are in day care.

Kate Dyer said it was a challenge to keep her children entertained and Saturday’s program was a good opportunity to get outside.

“There’s certainly been a lot more time home with mom and dad,” she said. “Being able to come out and have some instruction and something to challenge us is good.”

Kate Dyer said Monmouth schools would use a “hybrid” system to educate children, with two days in school and two days remote learning, which would affect Julia. She said the children would have to go to day care when not physically in school, leaving the evening for their remote instruction.

Weber, who lives in Portland, brought her daughter, Isabel Gorriti, who was hard at work decorating a “fairy house” up against a tree near Cobbossee Lake.

Weber, who is also a nurse practitioner, said she was told about the event by the Dyers and stopped by on their way to their camp on East Pond in Oakland. She said the family’s camp is a good retreat from the Portland-area, where the pandemic was centralized in the state.

“It’s a chance to get outside and forget you’re in a pandemic, honestly,” she said. “We have our camp, so we’ve been coming weekends … since May. It’s good place to getaway right now when you can’t really go anywhere.”

Weber said her family hasn’t been affected much by the pandemic, as she and her husband were both able to alter their schedules to split work and childcare duties.

“She’s in a community day care (that has) created their own bubbles,” she said. “We’re very fortunate.”

Wilbert said another Family Fun Day may be planned for the fall and she hoped the next event will be well-attended.


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