Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- Alternate meaning: YMCA (song)
The YMCA (or Young Men's Christian Association) is an ecumenical organization offering programming based on Christian values. Individual YMCA missions are 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 country to country as a result of the model of local governance adopted by the organization.
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. 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 opened in Montreal, Quebec on November 25, 1851, and the first in the United States on December 29, 1851
Today, YMCAs are present in 122 countries.
The activities of the YMCA can be divided into four categories:
The first YMCA was greatly concerned with Bible study. In response to the needs of the communities they serve, some YMCAs make a more general commitment to spiritual values.
Nationwide, the YMCA Indian Guides, Princesses, and Braves programs have provided structured opportunities for fellowship, camping, and tribal outing activities (including craft making and community service) for generations of parents and kids. The program is designed for kids in Kindergarten through Third Grade.
The roots of this still vibrant program stem from similar activities dating back to 1926. Notable founders of what's become today's YMCA Parent/Child programs include Harold Keltner, a St. Louis YMCA director, and indirectly, Joe Friday, by Ojibway Indian 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 that honor their legacy and are given out to distinguished YMCA volunteers in the program.
YMCA Indian Guides participants historically take pride in cultivating respect and honor of Native American Culture . Bowing to changing political viewpoints, the official name for this program is now known everywhere as "Adventure Guides," though some federations in California and North Carolina are by choice holding onto the Indian Theme through 2009. Trailblazers is the YMCA's parent/child program for older kids.
Kids earn patches for achieving various goals, such as completing a designated nature hike and participating in Y-Sponsored events. A typical, suburban Indian Guides meeting is parodied in the Bob Hope and Lucille Ball Comedy of 1960, The Facts of Life . More recently, further testament to 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 occurs complete with the dads and kids addressing one another by their Indian names (Chase is "Squatting Dog") in patch-covered vests, wearing headdresses, singing songs, and roasting marshmallows 'round the campfire.
The YMCA pioneered the concept of night school , providing educational opportunities for people with full time employment. Many YMCA's offer ESL programs, alternative high school and day care programs. YMCA Summer Camp is popular.
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 and the gay community
Historically, before the decriminalisation of homosexuality, some men often used the local "Y" as somewhere to meet other men — and often as a place to have anonymous sex. This practice has diminished as gay bathhouses have become more prevalent. The Village People's blockbuster recording of the Disco Era, YMCA, alludes to this. However, most Y's in the nation will not freely market this part of their history.
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