Children enjoyed a lively game of dodge ball at the Putnam County YMCA’s “Youth Overnight” on Saturday, Feb. 15. Thirty-one children attended the event, which featured swimming, games, and plenty of food. (Becky Leader/Putnam Sentinel)
Children enjoyed a lively game of dodge ball at the Putnam County YMCA’s “Youth Overnight” on Saturday, Feb. 15. Thirty-one children attended the event, which featured swimming, games, and plenty of food. (Becky Leader/Putnam Sentinel)

OTTAWA — Laughter, giggles, and screeches filled the air at the Putnam County YMCA late into the night on Saturday and early Sunday.

Thirty-one children between the ages of five and twelve arrived at 8 p.m. and stayed at the facility until 8 a.m. on Sunday, to attend the Y’s “Youth Overnight.” Lori Fetherolf, Executive Director and the facilitator of the overnight, was pleased with the turnout.

“That’s a pretty good number, considering I didn’t have anyone signed up a couple days ago,” she related. The children swam and played some lively games of dodge ball before devouring several pizzas. They were able to take advantage of the foosball and pool tables, play board games and basketball, and use playground equipment such as hula hoops and jump ropes. Dottie Wise, a Y employee, helped chaperone the overnight. “I was the only one who volunteered to help!” she laughed.

The overnight was a bargain for parents. The Y charged a nominal fee of $20 for members and $30 for non-members, and a $10 discount was given for each additional child from the same family. A midnight snack and a light breakfast were also included in the price.

“It’s cheaper than a babysitter, considering we feed and entertain them,” Fetherolf expressed.

Approximately half the children who participated were first-time visitors to the Y; many of the children brought a friend to share the fun.

Lorenzo Walther, a Leipsic fifth-grader, said that although he brought a friend, he also wanted to meet new friends.

What did the parents do while they kids were otherwise engaged?

Carter Welch, from Glandorf, surmised his parents were going to watch a movie while he and his three siblings were gone.

Grady Steffan, an eight-year-old Glandorf resident, explained, “They’re (my parents) are at home. My uncles came to visit — they live far, far away and they’re sleeping in my room. That’s why I’m here.”

Fetherolf expected the most of the children to turn in for the night around midnight. The program room was packed with sleeping bags and pillows, in preparation for movies and popcorn. The executive director said she had taken Friday off work to stockpile some ‘zzzs’.

“Sleep?” a group of tween girls giggled. “Probably not!”

Mitchell S. Maag, from Leipsic, was realistic about getting some shut-eye. “I’ll sleep,” he divulged. “I’ve been to stuff like this before.”

Gabby Steffan, from Glandorf, declared, “I’m going to stay up late, watch movies, and party with popcorn!”

Parents were thrilled with the program. Jill Welch commented, “This was the second youth overnight my kids have participated in. Lori and Dottie both do a great job keeping the kids active and busy throughout the night. The kids love swimming and the gym games are always creative and fun. After I dropped the kids off, I had no doubt in mind that they were safe and would have an amazing time- and they did!”

Welch concluded with a chuckle, “And of course we enjoyed our time away from the kids!”