Bucksport YMCA director hopes to grow programs, enrollment



BUCKSPORT — Nick Tymoczko has had a busy summer.

The 31-year-old became the recreation operations director for the YMCA in Bucksport this May, which gave him about a month to prepare for a summer season filled with activities and programs for local kids and adults.

Luckily, he had some help along the way.

“It’s definitely not a one-person gig,” Tymoczko said. “It takes a community to really step up and support something, and Bucksport really came forward.”

The town of Bucksport signed a contract with the Down East Family YMCA in Ellsworth in April. Though there is no YMCA building in Bucksport, the organization provides recreation services in the form of personnel and programs.

 

The superintendent of Regional School Unit 25, Jim Boothby, provided Tymoczko and his staff with office space in the Jewett School. The Lighthouse Arts Center provided staff and supplies for arts activities for summer campers, and the Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust put together a hiking program that takes place this week.

“People just throw resources at you,” Tymoczko said.

The former Bucksport High School track and football star mentioned how Chris Grindle and Shane Bowden of the Bucksport Fire Department showed summer campers around an ambulance in July. They also let them spray a fire hose at a target.

Also in July, Detective Sgt. David Winchester of the Bucksport Police Department led a weightlifting class for kids.

“This is such a team atmosphere here in Bucksport,” said Tymoczko, who worked at the Mount Desert Island YMCA and taught gym classes at a middle school in Massachusetts before returning to his hometown.

“People are really willing to help out,” he said.

The programs have helped draw a good number of participants, especially to the summer barbecue series hosted at the Tim Emery Municipal Pool.

“We rifled through 90 hot dogs in 15 minutes on the first night we did it,” Tymoczko said.

The summer day camp drew a core of 25 kids every day, but Tymoczko hopes more are on the way. He just has to get the word out first.

“As it works in most small towns, word-of-mouth is going to be our best ally,” he said. “Running quality programming is going to build trust with folks, and in turn we’ll see bigger enrollments. So we’ll start small; we won’t be scared of it.”

As his first summer as program director comes to an end, Tymoczko hopes the town continues to be involved in local YMCA programs.

“What I’d like to do is create a culture where, if someone wants to come in and share their specialty with the community, we can be the vessel that they go through,” he said.

The goal of Bucksport’s YMCA contract was to maintain the town’s programs after its longtime recreation director, Tim Emery, retired.

The town of Bucksport first signed a contract with the YMCA in April. The goal of the contract was to maintain the town’s programs after its longtime recreation director, Tim Emery, retired.

But Tymoczko isn’t just maintaining Bucksport’s recreation programs. He hopes to create new ones.

“Part of our intention here in Bucksport is to fill gaps,” said Tymoczko, who works with a local advisory committee made up of local business owners and municipal leaders.

“If there’s a community need for a dance program, or if people are advocating for gymnastics, that would be a gap,” he said. “We would work with our advisory board to find people to instruct those classes and identify spaces where we could do that on a consistent basis.”

Tymoczko recalled how a gap for volleyball was identified at a recent advisory committee meeting.

“We have a great high school team, but we don’t have a feeder program to it,” he said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us to explore what it entails to get a team involved at the middle school level and do some skill development.”

A similar program for soccer will start this fall. Tymoczko said the program, for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade, will help young athletes learn the skills of soccer at a pace that’s appropriate for their age.

“We’ll follow developmentally appropriate standards set by organizations like FIFA for soccer,” Tymoczko said. “The most important part is that they’re out there with their peers having a good time learning the skills and enjoying themselves.”

Another gap that will be filled this fall is an after-school program for kids in kindergarten through third grade. The program is state-licensed and will involve activities such as field games, homework help, arts and crafts and community service. For parents, the program will cost $12 a day, or $50 a week.

“Kids are generally ready to move at the end of the school day,” Tymoczko said. “So we want to provide them a space to do what is developmentally appropriate for them.”

Kids aren’t the only ones Tymoczko wants to help get moving. He said he also hopes to develop fitness programs for older adults.

“Active older adults could mean a whole range of things: high-intensity exercise or armchair aerobics,” Tymoczko said. “Our intention is to find a way to serve the whole gamut.”

To help serve that gamut, Tymoczko hopes to regionalize fitness training and instructors across the county.

“There’ll be a pool of real professional fitness instructors who are able to provide services all throughout the Downeast Acadia region,” he said.

For Tymoczko, the YMCA plays a critical role in Bucksport’s transition away from being a paper mill town.

“What Bucksport needs to do is focus on quality of life,” he said, pointing out the waterfront and the Wednesday on Main events as other great reasons to live there. “That’s the kind of stuff that’s going to bring people to Bucksport.”

The town seems to agree. Late last month, the Town Council agreed to use $7,834.74 from its recreation reserve for improvements to the town fitness facility in the Jewett School, which the YMCA maintains.

To check out the YMCA schedule in Bucksport, register for YMCA events or for more information, go to defymca.org/bucksport, visit the Bucksport Recreation Facebook page or call Tymoczko at 469-3518.

David Roza

David Roza

David grew up in Washington County, Maryland, has reported in Washington County, Oregon, and now covers news in Hancock County and Washington County, Maine for The American and Out & About.