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Donation Funds Outdoor Tree-Climbing Elements at Hockomock YMCA

The Bernon Family Branch of the Hockomock Area YMCA has installed new outdoor tree-climbing elements as an enhancement to its outdoor challenge course in Franklin. The new climbing elements were funded by a generous donation from longtime Y supporters Paula Rooney and Gerry Shaw, and will be used extensively in spring and summer 2024 with youth participating in the Y’s Before & After School Care and Summer Camp programs, as well as local school groups visiting the Y.

In late August, the Franklin Y installed Monkey Hardware systems on trees on its property, each providing a different climbing level of accessibility. These kits effectively turn the trees into climbing walls and are paired with the TRUBLUE iQ auto belay system. The TRUBLUE auto belays allow climbers of all ages and skill levels to climb heights safely. Rather than pulling the young climber upwards, they allow climbers to ascend the tree on their own power, while providing rest as needed during the climb with its catch and hold technology. Once the climber has reached the top of the climb they have chosen, the auto belays use magnetic braking technology to lower the climber back down slowly and safely to the ground. 

“These new elements have brought the kids together in a new way that I have not seen in a long time. When a camper was climbing their whole group would be watching and cheering them on to reach the top,” said Ashley Dumas, Youth Program Director at the Bernon Family Branch. “It gave the kids something to work towards and accomplish.”

The Hockomock Y is grateful for this generous donation. The Franklin Y’s camp and playing fields also feature Gramdma’s Place, an outdoor pavilion with weatherproof tables and seating, which was also built with funds donated by the Rooney & Shaw family.

“From their decades in leadership at Dean College in Franklin to their contributions as Board members of our Hockomock Area YMCA, Paula Rooney and Gerry Shaw have a long history of supporting youth and families in the Franklin community,” said Jim Downs, Hockomock Area YMCA CEO. “Our Y staff and members are so appreciative that they continue to find new ways to enhance operations at our Y and help us provide an even better experience for the youth we serve.” 

For more information on the Hockomock Area YMCA, including camp, visit

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