Brandon Bedell was only 5 years old when he first attended Blue Mountain Day Camp, Sussex County YMCA’s program at the beautiful Fairview Lake YMCA Camps in Stillwater Township, and he’s been back every summer since.

“It’s a positive environment and everyone there helps you grow,” the 16-year-old said. Bedell went through the counselor-in-training program two years ago, and last summer he worked as a junior counselor, lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons.

“I get to share my experiences with the younger kids, and help them out out if they need it,” said Bedell, who learned to swim at camp.

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The North Warren Regional High school junior received Sussex County YMCA’s 2016 Youth of the Year Award at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ 40th annual recognition dinner April 5 at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover. Sussex County YMCA is one of six branches of the Metro YMCA, the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey.

“Brandon serves as a great role model for the children in the program” Sussex County YMCA Executive Director Jennifer Gardner said. During the school year, Bedell works at the Y’s after-school child care program at Blairstown Elementary School as a group assistant.

“He has endless energy and truly enjoys being active with the children at camp and after-care,” Gardner said. When he broke his foot in December, Bedell only missed one day of work, she noted. “He is extremely dedicated to the Y and the children we serve.”

The Blairstown resident said he was “flabbergasted” when he learned he would receive the award. “I’m honored, but I feel that I’m just doing my job,” he said. Bedell said he loves working with children and aspires to become a teacher.

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ABOUT THE Y

Established in 1885, the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges is the largest association of YMCAs in New Jersey, serving more than 35,000 individuals and providing nearly $1.3 million in direct financial assistance. Its six YMCAs, located in East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Hardyston, Stillwater and Wayne, are committed to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living, and fostering a sense of social responsibility. They offer an array of programs that build spirit, mind and body for people of all ages and all circumstances.