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Encyclopedia > World Alliance of Young Mens Christian Associations
YMCAs in the United States and Canada use this logo. The red triangle symbolizes the YMCA mission to "build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all".
YMCAs in the United States and Canada use this logo. The red triangle symbolizes the YMCA mission to "build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all".

The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) is an ecumenical organization offering programming based on Christian values. The YMCA mission is often stated as, "To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all." Each local YMCA oversees its own finances and governance. Within most countries, the local YMCAs are related primarily in terms of overall strategy and direction only—the organization is truly community-based and staffed and supported by volunteers and local employees. In some localities nowadays, the YMCA is almost exclusively a community sports facility, utilizing physical activities and recreation as a method of promoting positive values. YMCAs operate in 119 countries worldwide. Individual YMCA programming and mission varies from country to country as a result of the model of local governance adopted by the organization. Image File history File links YMCA logo Source: YMCA of Greater Vancouver website File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... The word ecumenical comes from a Greek word that means pertaining to the whole world. ... See also: Timeline of Christianity Beliefs Jesus crucifixion as portrayed by Diego Velázquez. ... Modern indoor gymnasium with pull-down basketball hoops Gym is a shortened form of gymnasium referring to facilities intended for indoor sports or exercise. ...



First YMCA in North America in Montreal, Quebec

The YMCA movement was founded in London on June 6, 1844 by George Williams and a group of like-minded Evangelical Christians. Williams was a draper, typical of the many young men who were being drawn to big cities by the Industrial Revolution. His colleagues were similarly employed, and they were concerned by the lack of healthy activities for young men in cities such as London. The alternatives were often taverns, brothels, and other temptations to sin. The "Y" expanded to Australia in 1850. The first YMCA in North America was opened in Montreal, Quebec by the congregation of Saint James Methodist Church on November 25, 1851, and the first in the United States opened on December 29, 1851 Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1200x1600, 451 KB) Montreal, First YMCA Montréal, premier YMCA 2005, Denis Jacquerye File links The following pages link to this file: YMCA ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1200x1600, 451 KB) Montreal, First YMCA Montréal, premier YMCA 2005, Denis Jacquerye File links The following pages link to this file: YMCA ... Part of the London skyline viewed from the South Bank London is the most populous city in the European Union, with an estimated population on 1 January 2005 of 7,500,000 and a metropolitan area population of between 12 and 14 million. ... June 6 is the 157th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (158th in leap years), with 208 days remaining. ... 1844 was a leap year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... George Williams Sir George Williams (1821-1905), was the founder of the YMCA. Williams was born on October 11, 1821, on a farm in Dulverton, Somerset, England. ... The word evangelicalism usually refers to a tendency in diverse branches of Protestantism, typified by an emphasis on evangelism, a personal experience of conversion, biblically-oriented faith, and a belief in the relevance of Christian faith to cultural issues. ... The term draper can refer to a number of individuals and places. ... The Industrial Revolution was the major technological, socioeconomic and cultural change in the late 18th and early 19th century resulting from the replacement of an economy based on manual labour to one dominated by industry and machine manufacture. ... Sin has been a term most usually used in a religious context, and today describes any lack of conformity to the will of God; especially, any willful disregard for the norms revealed by God is a sin. ... 1850 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... World map showing North America A satellite composite image of North America North America is a continent in the northern hemisphere bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the east by the North Atlantic Ocean, on the south by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by the... This article needs cleanup. ... Saint James United Church is a heritage church in downtown Montreal, Quebec. ... November 25 is the 329th (in leap years the 330th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1851 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... December 29 is the 363rd day of the year (364th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 2 days remaining. ... 1851 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ...

In 1855 delegates from YMCAs convened in Paris, France, where they adopted a common mission for all present and future national YMCAs. The main point of the "Paris Basis" were that no minor disagreement should ever be able to split the movement from its Christian focus. To further enhance this point of view, John 17.21 was adopted as the motto of the organization: "...that they may all be one." The focus of the Paris conference was almost purely individual - to help young men to "build a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all".

Throughout the 20th century it became evident in the member countries that YMCA would be an organization of both genders. The name, however, has naturally prevailed, being a strong brand name. In some of the member countries the YMCA was the first national organization to adopt a strict policy of equal gender representation in commitees and national boards. An example is Norway in 1880.

In 1973 the "Kampala principles" were adopted, reinforcing the policies of the YMCAs, but stating what had become obvious in most national YMCAs, that a global viewpoint was more necessary, and that in doing so, the YMCAs would have to take political stands, especially so in international challenges. At the world conference in Germany in 1997, the "Challenge 21" was adopted, giving even more focus to the global challenges, like gender equality, sustainable development, war and peace, fair distribution and the challenges of globalization, racism and HIV/AIDS. All these topics are viewed as challenges against the will of God.

The YMCAs took a firm stand in the global fight against Apartheid and also in the situation in the Middle East. At the world conference in Oaxtepec, Mexico in 2002, a strong call for a peaceful solution to the crisis was adopted.

The YMCAs, especially in Western Europe and North America has also used great resources to help build national YMCAs in Eastern Europe with great success. In 2003 a youth convention was arranged in Prague with attendance from almost all countries in Europe to celebrate the healing of the wounds from the "iron curtain".

Today, YMCAs are present in 119 countries. The present president is Caesar Molebatsi from South Africa, and Bartholomew Shaha of Bangladesh is Secretary General. The American National headquarters is in Chicago. Chicago (officially named the City of Chicago) is the third largest city in the United States (after New York City and Los Angeles), with an official population of 2,896,016, as of the 2000 census. ...

The activities of the YMCA can be divided into four categories:


The first YMCA was very much concerned with Bible study, although the organization has generally moved on to a more holistic approach to youthwork. Around six years after its birth, an international YMCA conference in Paris decided that the objective of the organization should become "Christian discipleship developed through a programme of religious, educational, social and physical activities" (Binfield 1973:265). More recent objectives as found on the YMCA UK website include no reference to discipleship. The Bible (sometimes The Book, Good Book, Word of God, The Word, or Scripture), from Greek (τα) βιβλια, (ta) biblia, (the) books, is the classical name for the Hebrew Bible of Judaism or the combination of the Old Testament and New Testament of Christianity (The Bible therefore actually refers to at least... A Disciple (from the Latin discipulus, a pupil) is one who receives instruction from another; a scholar; a learner; especially, a follower who has learned to believe in the truth of the doctrine of his teacher, and implies that the pupil is under the discipline of, and understands, his teacher...


The Weekley Family YMCA in the Braeswood Place neighborhood of Houston, Texas
The Weekley Family YMCA in the Braeswood Place neighborhood of Houston, Texas

In the US, the YMCA parent child programs (originally called YMCA Indian Guides, Princess, Braves and Maiden's) have provided structured opportunities for fellowship, camping, and community-building activities (including craft-making and community service) for several generations of parents and kids in kindergarten through third grade. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1656x585, 151 KB) Summary Image is public domain Licensing I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1656x585, 151 KB) Summary Image is public domain Licensing I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. ... A sign marking Braeswood Place Braeswood Place is a neighborhood in Houston, Texas. ... Downtown Houston Nickname: Bayou City; Space City; H-Town Motto: {{{motto}}} Official website: www. ...

The roots of these still vibrant programs stem from similar activities dating back to 1926. Notable founders of YMCA Indian Guides include Harold Keltner, a St. Louis YMCA director, and indirectly, Joe Friday, an Ojibwa hunting guide. The two men met in the early 1920s, when Joe Friday was a speaker at a local YMCA banquet for Fathers and Sons that Harold Keltner had arranged. Today, Joe Friday and Harold Keltner are commemorated with patch awards honoring their legacy which are given out to distinguished YMCA volunteers in the program. 1926 (MCMXXVI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... Saint Louis (pronounced in English, in French), frequently spelled St. ... One Called From A Distance (Midwewinind) of the White Earth Band, 1894 The Ojibwa, Aanishanabe or Chippewa (also Ojibwe, Ojibway, Chippeway, Anishinaabe, or Anishinabek) are the largest group of Native Americans/First Nations north of Mexico, including Métis. ...

YMCA Indian Guides participants historically took pride in cultivating respect and honor for Native American culture. Responding to a number of variables, including making the program more culturally sensitive and attracting a broader audience, in 2003 the program evolved into what is now known nationally as "YMCA Adventure Guides," "Trailblazers" is the YMCA's parent/child program for older kids. Assiniboin Boy, an Atsina Native Americans in the United States (also Indians, American Indians, First Americans, Indigenous Peoples, Aboriginal Peoples, Aboriginal Americans, Amerindians, Amerinds, or Original Americans) are those indigenous peoples within the territory that is now encompassed by the continental United States, and their descendants in modern times. ...

In some programs, children earn patches for achieving various goals, such as completing a designated nature hike or participating in Y-sponsored events. A typical, suburban Indian Guide meeting was parodied in the Bob Hope/Lucille Ball comedy of 1960, The Facts of Life. More recently, the continued popularity of the YMCA I-Guides is seen in the 1995 Chevy Chase/Farrah Fawcett comedy, Man of the House, wherein a campout takes place complete with the dads and kids addressing one another by their program names in patch-covered vests, wearing headdresses, singing songs, and roasting marshmallows around a campfire. Bob Hope receiving an (honorary) Oscar Leslie Townes Hope, KBE (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003), otherwise known as Bob Hope, was a famous American entertainer who appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway, on radio and television, in movies and in U.S. Army concerts. ... Lucille Ball Lucille Désirée Ball (August 6, 1911 - April 26, 1989) was an American actress, comedian and star of I Love Lucy. ... 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1995 (MCMXCV) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Chevy Chase Cornelius Crane Chase, better known as Chevy Chase (born October 8, 1943) is an American comedian, writer and television and film actor from Woodstock, New York. ... Farrah Fawcett, promotional poster, late 70s. ... Man of the House is both a 1995 film and a 2005 film. ...

Physical fitness

Basketball, volleyball, swimming pools, and racquetball were all developed by YMCA instructors. It is very common for YMCAs to have weight rooms, along with facilities for playing various sports. Sara Giauro takes a three-point shot, FIBA Europe Cup for Women Finals 2005 Basketball is a sport in which two teams of five players each try to score points by throwing a ball through a hoop (the basket) under organized rules. ... Volleyball is one of the most popular sports in the world. ... 50 meter indoor swimming pool A swimming pool, swimming bath, or wading pool is an artificially enclosed body of water intended for recreational or competitive swimming, or for other bathing activities that do not involve swimming, i. ... Racquetball racquet and ball Racquetball is a sport played with racquets and a hollow rubber ball on an indoor or outdoor court. ...

Up until the YMCA became co-ed in the early 60s, men and boys, including the swimming instructors, swam nude. The original reason cited for not allowing swimsuits in the pool was that the cotton or even older wool swimsuits would clog up the filtration system. At that time, male-segregated nudity was very common in the locker rooms while showering or while swimming in male-only high-school swimming classes. It was understood that there was nothing wrong or sexual about males seeing other males while naked. Females were never allowed to be present at such a setting.


Many colleges and universities owe their creation to the YMCA. Springfield College was founded in 1885 as an international training school for YMCA Professionals, while Sir George Williams University—one of the two schools that eventually became Concordia University—started from night courses offered at the Montreal YMCA. The term college (Latin collegium) is most often used today to denote an educational institution. ... // History Because of the above definition, the oldest universities in the world were all European, as the awarding of academic degrees was not a custom of older institutions of learning in Asia and Africa. ... Springfield College is a college located in Springfield, Massachusetts. ... This article is about Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. ... Concordia University This article is about Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. ...

Northeastern University, Boston began out of a YMCA in Boston, and Franklin University began as the YMCA School of Commerce. Northeastern University is a private university in Boston, Massachusetts, in the New England region of the United States. ... Boston is a town and small port c. ... Franklin University is a private university in downtown Columbus, Ohio. ...

The YMCA pioneered the concept of night school, providing educational opportunities for people with full-time employment. Many YMCAs offer ESL programs, alternative high school, day care, and summer camp programs. English as an additional language refers to the use or study of English by speakers of other languages. ... In education, the phrase alternative school usually refers to a school based on a non-traditional, new, or non-standard educational philosophy. ... Day care is the care of a child during the day by a person other than the childs parents or legal guardians, often someone outside the childs immediate family. ... Summer camp, principally a North American phenomenon, is a common destination for children and teenagers during the summer months. ...

American high school students have a chance to participate in YMCA Youth and Government, wherein clubs of kids representing each YMCA community convene annually in their respective state legislatures to "take over the State Capitol for a day." YMCA Youth and Government helps teens learn about and participate in civics in a real-world setting. YMCA Youth and Government is a program the YMCA oversees in the United States to educate high school students about the principles of democratic government. ... State legislatures are the lawmaking bodies of the 50 states in the United States of America. ...

See also

Neysa Moran McMein (1888-1949) Y.W.C.A. In Service for the Girls of the World, Poster, 1919 The YWCA (originally Young Womens Christian Association) is a world-wide organisation, founded in the UK in 1855. ... YMCA Youth and Government is a program the YMCA oversees in the United States to educate high school students about the principles of democratic government. ... A Jewish Community Center is a general recreational, social and fraternal organization serving the Jewish community in a number of cities. ... The 92nd Street Y is a multifaceted cultural institution and community center located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. ...

External links



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