State College YMCA branch’s family night offers break from winter doldrums

Not a drop of sweat dripped from 8-year-old Faith Bennett’s forehead Saturday as she scaled the rock climbing wall at the State College branch of the Centre County YMCA.

Every time she lifted with her right foot, her left hand would grab another piece on the rock climbing wall, and vice versa.

She made it to the top. Twice.

“It was hard, but it was fun,” said Faith, a Gray’s Woods Elementary School student.

Faith was one of about 100 local kids and their families who attended the triannual YMCA family night.

Kayla Nardi, the youth and family services coordinator, said family nights are free and open to the community, and provide families with activities.

In turn, they’re also a way for the YMCA to recruit new members.

“It’s a way to promote what we’re all about. People think YMCA and just think about working out,” Nardi. “We have so much to offer, and this is a fun way for families to experience that.”

The event Saturday didn’t draw in the crowd that other family nights usually do. Nardi blamed that on the weather, as it flurried most of the day.

“Wait until spring,” she said. “We’ll have more people and are able to open up our outdoor playground to the public for activities.”

The family night featured rock climbing, swimming, arts and crafts, carnival games and door prizes. Nardi said that the swim sessions and rock climbing were the most popular events.

Rock climbing instructor Holly Holt has been on the job for a week. She said that the instructors harness the climbers in tight, and suggest appropriate shoes for the climb.

The wall at the YMCA has easy, medium and hard sections.

Christian Waddle, 9, went from the swimming pool to the rock wall with no transition in between.

“I’m a little tired, but I’m good at doing things like this,” he said. “I’ll probably make it up the wall a couple times.”

He did. Twice, as well — each time making it to the top in just less than three minutes.

Christian’s mother said they try to attend as many family-friendly events around town as possible.

“I think especially in the winter it’s nice to get the kids out of the house and doing things other than watching TV,” said JoAnne Pearl-Waddle. “You get a little cabin fever for a couple months, and anytime we can get the kids moving and being with other kids outside of school, we’ll do it.”

The next family night is from 4 to 7 p.m. April 5.