Karen Andersen, Scotty Jackson, Diane Jackson, Dan Gregory and John Hellwich stand together smiling as the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties accepts an award for its pandemic program -- Seymour Scholars-- which supported distance based learning for students.

Photo: Left to right - Karen Andersen, Scotty Jackson, Diane Jackson, Dan Gregory and John Hellwich 

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, families on the Key Peninsula struggled to juggle their children's academic needs and provide for the family. Working from home was not an option for many families, leaving them to deal with the difficult choice of managing work and caregiving responsibilities.   

To meet the community's needs, the nationally lauded YMCA Camp Seymour was transformed into a distance-learning site to provide a safe place for 38 students to complete their schoolwork. In addition to academic support, Seymour Scholars received healthy meals, participated in outdoor activities to build self-confidence, and engaged in social interactions that support positive mental health.  

 "It's great, I like how we have helpers because otherwise I’m alone at my mom's work. I also like it because we get all of our work done."  - Madison M. | 4th grader at Evergreen Elementary 

The Seymour Scholars Program was made possible due to our leadership’s willingness to keep staff available to support whatever needs arose and to donors whose ongoing support of the Y allows us as an organization to reach beyond our walls and offer a helping hand to anyone in need. Through this readiness, the Y was able to pursue a partnership with the Peninsula School District and support distance learning for students who may not have been able to find a safe, supportive environment otherwise. 

"It's a really nice open space and it’s a fun place overall. And a great learning environment" 

-Isaiah S. | 6th grader at Key Peninsula Middle School 

In May, the Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA) Region 111 presented the Washington Association of School Administrators, Community Leadership Award to the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties for its partnership with the Peninsula School District to launch the Seymour Scholars program from September 2020 - June 2021 to serve students falling through the cracks early in the pandemic. 

This award is presented to community members or groups in recognition of their outstanding contributions toward education. Specific criteria include a benefit to students, leadership, motivation, success, cooperation/coordination with local district, recognition by others, and history of service.  


 WASA is an organization for professional administrators that is committed to leadership.  It upholds its members to providing equity and excellence in student learning by providing member services, offering growth opportunities for leaders, and promoting community and legislative support for education. 


We are so grateful for the community partners and donors who supported the Y to help provide this opportunity for youth on the Key Peninsula.