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Reasons to smile: Meet 'Miss Julie,' the afterschool and summer camp legend in Jersey Shore

Summer camps are back and so are the special people who run them.

JERSEY SHORE, Pa. — Summer camps are finally heating up again this year all over our area, after being restricted last year by the pandemic. And so many of those camps are back, making quite an impact on kids, thanks to the special people who run them.

They’re the focus of today’s Reasons to Smile segment with Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey.

All over Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania dozens of summer camps are getting underway. And at them, so many camp counselors and workers who really end up leaving a lasting impression on kids.

At one program in Central PA, there’s a woman who’s been around for almost three decades making a positive impact on hundreds of young people.

Lycoming County’s Julie Hartman is someone you can truly say built her life around kids.

"I work at the Jersey Shore High School in a learning support classroom. I've been with the school district for almost 29 years. So I guess kids are a passion," Julie Hartman said. 

A passion that Julie enjoys well after the school year ends. That’s because when she’s not working for the district you can find Julie here at the Jersey Shore Branch YMCA. She helps oversee and run the Y’s after school and summer day camp programs.

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey asked Julie how she does it all.  

"I ask myself that sometimes...it's fulfilling. I just like knowing that at some point I helped someone. And in today's world, you know, we all need that little bit of extra someone to believe in you….someone to motivate you to get you going," Julie said. 

And that’s what Julie has been doing for hundreds of kids at the Y in Jersey Shore for almost three decades. Her colleagues say, simply put, she’s invaluable.

"She's been working with the Y obviously longer than I even been here. And without the quality consistency that Julie brings, we would not be able to keep offering the kind of programs that we do every year," Cori Amrom said. "It's a skill. She is Miss Julie. It's just a natural fit for somebody like Julie, and we couldn't be more lucky to have her."

And the Y’s events and kids truly keep “Miss Julie” on her toes! After all, the summer day camp activities range from swimming, to canoeing, and many other hands on projects. All packed into one day!

"I like doing different things like crafts and stuff, science experiments," camper Eli Liddic said. 

Fifth Grader Eli Liddic has known Miss Julie since he was in kindergarten. 

"He and I have been through a lot, many good memories. He's blossomed into a wonderful, wonderful young man," Julie said. 

Memories this now 11-year-old can look back on and smile about. 

"She's nice, but whenever kids misbehave, she gets really mean," Eli said. 

Miss Julie doesn't mess around.

"They remember some things, especially if I've had some, you know, times with them where they're doing a time out, but they'll remember and then they'll say, you know, I really, I really am glad that you stepped in and taught me, that's definitely not the way I want to go once I get older," Julie said. 

Julie laughs about kids calling her mean. 

"They just said I’m mean. I've seen so many kids through the years and actually now some of my staff, I have actually had in daycare. They definitely have made an impact on my life and I've seen how well the young men and women they've grown into," Julie said. 

Julie says there’s a reason for that bit of tough love. Since she doesn’t have kids of her own, Julie treats every youngster at the Y like family.

"I always say this to my kids, my new kids, beginning of school year, beginning the summer. When you walk in that door, you one of mine, and I won’t treat you any different or do anything any different than I would if I had my own children," Julie said. "It takes a village and that is true. And with the Y, we are one of the villages in town."

"I really can't say enough about Julie. Our program has definitely flourished because of her," Cori Amrom said. 

All thanks to a special person, "Miss Julie," who’s made a lasting, positive impact on hundreds in Jersey Shore, giving so many kids a Reason To Smile.

And by the way, whether it’s the summer day camps at the YMCA in Jersey Shore, or other Y’s across our area, many are still accepting applications for campers.

All Y’s across the country even offer scholarships to kiddos who want to attend, but might not be able to afford the programs.

You can find a YMCA where you live here.

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