A branch of the Channel Islands YMCA

a branch of the Channel Islands YMCA

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Ventura Family YMCA History

Located along one of the most scenic stretches of the California coast line, the Ventura Family YMCA has been serving the city of Ventura since 1887.  The Ventura YMCA got its start on September 30, 1887 with a house that was purchased on the corner of Santa Clara and Oak Street, the YMCA was then considered the YMCA of Ventura County. 

Today, the Ventura Family YMCA has grown with an expansive 6,000 facility members and provides childcare to over 300 children in its after-school programs.  A 3,000 square foot natatorium was added with two heated indoor pools allowing an aquatics program to flourish and serve 5,000 children annually.

At the Y, strengthening community is our cause.  The commitment permeates in everything the Y does with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of the people residing in its surrounding community. We welcome you to look through our website for valuable information about our services, programs and fitness facility but mostly importantly we invite you to come visit us- nothing is better than getting to know the YMCA family in person. We consider it an honor and a privilege to serve you.

YMCA History

Volunteer founded and volunteer led, the YMCA was established in London, England, in 1844 by George Williams, a draper's shop assistant, to give young men an alternative to life on the streets.

In 1851, Thomas Sullivan, a retired sea captain and lay missionary, started the first U.S. YMCA in Boston. From there, YMCAs spread rapidly across America. Some were started to serve specific groups such as railroad and factory workers, as well as African Americans, Native Americans and recent immigrants. After World War II, women and girls were admitted to full membership and participation.

In 1881 Dr. Luther Gulick revolutionized the American approach to health and fitness with the idea that man’s well-being depends on a unity of body, mind and spirit. The same year, Boston YMCA staffer Robert J. Roberts coins the term ―body building and develops exercise classes that anticipate today’s fitness workouts. 

In 1885 the Camp Dudley was started, America’s first known summer camp, at Orange Lake, N.Y. Its aim was to help kids build skills and grow in self-reliance while making new friends. Over the years, the Y created more family and year-round camps and expanded the focus to include environmental stewardship, academics, arts and leadership.

Two years later years later, in 1887, the YMCA was formed in Santa Barbara and Ventura. Since then, the Channel Islands YMCA has grown to include to six health and fitness facilities, a Youth and Family services branch, and more than 20 child care locations.

The YMCA movement in America has become the largest not-for-profit community-based organization in the nation, serving 20 million Americans. The nation's more than 2,500 YMCAs unite men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities, and income levels. YMCAs are also at work abroad, serving more than 45 million people in more than 120 countries.

YMCA Inventions

Two major sports, basketball and volleyball, were born at the YMCA. A YMCA instructor created the first group swimming lesson, and the Y was the first to establish certification programs for lifesaving, swimming and aquatic instruction. The YMCA also pioneered and greatly expanded summer camping, night school, vocational counseling, adult education, college student services, and junior college.

YMCA World Service workers were forerunners of Peace Corps volunteers. The YMCA assisted in the formation of other major voluntary groups such as Boy Scouts, Camp Fire, and the USO.

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