YARD celebrating Yelm centennial with third annual summer program

Registration is now open for classes, which begin July 8


For six weeks, Youth Athletics Recreation Development (YARD) will transform into the “Prairie Old West” for the return of its summer program. The organization is meshing the 100-year celebration of Yelm’s incorporation into its curriculum, in which students will learn about water filtration, how to build a shelter and more.

Along with STEM classes, YARD’s summer program will feature classes in literature, art and physical education, taught by current or former teachers. Classes begin on July 8 and will finish on Aug. 15. YARD will offer two class options, including 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Wednesdays, and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Michelle Stephan, program coordinator, said students will read about the early settlers in Yelm and create fun art projects based on what they read.

“We really thought the 100-year thing would be fun. This community is really great about showing up for Yelm, and we wanted to touch on the spirit of Yelm,” Stephan said. 

From year one to year two of the program, YARD went from hosting one class with all ages to having enough students to split classes into two age groups. This year, the organization will split the classes into three age groups, 5-8, 9-11, and 12 and up.

Stephan said she hopes the program will keep students engaged during the summer and supports them and their parents.

“We want to meet the learning needs of as many kiddos as we can and try to make it fun for them, too,” she said. “We want to be there for the kids this summer and their parents and to support the schools.”

YARD, 305 Creek St., added a second space in October that will be used for physical education classes. Stephan said the new space represents the growth that the company, which she runs with her husband, Dustin, has seen since its opening in November of 2021. 

“My husband and I have really enjoyed working with kids and building the community of tomorrow. We feel it starts with the kids,” Stephan said. “It takes a village, and Yelm is an amazing village. The parents have been so supportive, and for a small business to grow the way that ours has is really a testament to this community.”

Registration is now open for classes but is limited to only eight children per age group, per day. Pre-registration is required, and no drop-ins will be allowed. For more information about cost and registration, visit https://bitly.ws/3cWCI.