In 1887, the same year that the first train came to Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Family YMCA was founded. Since then, Santa Barbara and the YMCA have grown and changed. Originally headquartered on the second floor of a downtown office building, the Y offered fellowship, music and exercise programs to the community. In 1910 construction began on the first official Y building in Santa Barbara, on the corner of Chapala and Carrillo Streets. The facility opened in 1912 and offered gymnasium classes, wrestling, boxing, handball, summer camps, hiking, athletics, swimming, and a variety of clubs and social services. The need for a larger and more modern facility became evident in the early 1950s, and the leaders of our community embarked on a campaign to build a new Y. Our facility on Hitchcock Way has been serving our community since 1960. This facility will continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of Santa Barbara. We are proud of our long history providing Santa Barbara with programs for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.
A Leading Nonprofit
There is no other organization quite like the Y. The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities throughout the nation. Your local Ys seek to find gaps in community services and develop activities to fill those needs, thus strengthening communities across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. The Y has the presence and partnerships to both promise and deliver lasting personal and social change.
The Y brings people together, connecting people of all ages and backgrounds to bridge the gaps in community needs.
The Y nurtures potential, believing that everyone should have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.
The Y has a local presence and national reach, mobilizing local communities to effect lasting, meaningful change.
The Channel Islands YMCA is a charitable organization providing programs based upon Christian principles to men, women, and children of all ages, races, religious beliefs and economic status to develop and enrich the spirit, mind and body.
Strengthening the community is our cause. A cause is defined as a principle or movement that, because of a deep commitment, one is prepared to defend or advocate. We have a deep commitment to the communities we are in and work tirelessly to make each a better place for all.
We’re a spirit, a movement and a cause. Our members join us because they believe in our cause and the values we stand for—caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.
Areas of Focus
The Y is dedicated to building healthy, confident, connected and secure children, adults, families and communities. Every day our impact is felt when an individual makes a healthy choice, when a mentor inspires a child, and when a community comes together for the common good.
Youth Development – Nurturing the potential of every child and teen
All kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. That’s why, through the Y, thousands of youth in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties are cultivating the values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and lifelong achievement. With so many demands on today’s families, parents often need additional support. Child care at the Y is about more than looking after your kids. It’s about nurturing their development, providing a safe place to learn, developing healthy, trusting relationships, and building self-reliance. The Y offers children and families water safety skills, sports, play time, educational and leadership development activities, and life-changing camp experiences as well as daily care.
Healthy Living – Improving the nation’s health and well-being
The Y is a leading voice on health and well-being. With a mission centered on balance of the spirit, mind and body, the Y encourages good health and fosters connections through fitness, sports and shared interests, to achieve greater health and well-being for the whole person. Healthy living is so much more than simply being physically active. It’s about creating and maintaining a harmony of spirit, mind and body. At the Y we can help you work toward that balance by providing opportunities to learn a new skill, make personal connections with new friends, work toward better health, or bring your loved ones closer together through our many family-centered activities. At the Y, it’s not about the activity you choose as much as it is about the benefits of living healthier on the inside and the outside.
Social Responsibility – Giving back and providing support to our neighbors
The Channel Islands YMCA has been listening and responding to our communities’ most critical social needs since 1887. Through the Y, thousands of volunteers, donors, leaders and partners across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties are empowering others to be healthy, confident, connected and secure. Together, we are committed to providing opportunities for kids, adults, families and seniors to give, join and advocate for stronger communities. Our existence depends upon the generosity of members utilizing their time and resources for the benefit of others. Strong relationships with our passionate and cause-driven members and supporters enables us to organize grassroots efforts and influence public policy around a range of social issues, including child welfare, education and public health. Consider how you might get involved as an advocate, a volunteer or a donor.
History of the YMCA
1844: 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.
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.
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 coined the term “body building” and developed exercise classes that anticipated today’s fitness workouts.
1885: Camp Dudley was founded, America’s first-known Y summer camp, at Orange Lake, N.Y. It aimed 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.
Our Local Y History
In 1887, the same year that the first train came to Santa Barbara, the YMCA was formed in Santa Barbara and Ventura. Since then, Santa Barbara, Ventura and the YMCA have grown and changed. Originally headquartered on the second floor of a downtown office building, the Santa Barbara Y offered fellowship, music and exercise programs to the community. In 1910, construction began on the first official Y building in Santa Barbara, on the corner of Chapala and Carrillo Streets. The facility opened in 1912 and offered gymnasium classes, wrestling, boxing, handball, summer camps, hikes, athletics, swimming, and a variety of clubs and social services.
Since then, the Channel Islands YMCA has grown to include 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 2,700 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 countries across the world.
Y Facts You May Not Know
Two major sports, basketball and volleyball, were created at the Y.
A Y instructor created the first group swimming lesson, and the Y was the first to establish certification programs for lifesaving, swimming and aquatics instruction.
Father’s Day was founded by Sonora Smart Dodd at a YMCA in Spokane, WA in 1910.
The Y 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 Y assisted in the formation of other major voluntary groups such as the Boy Scouts of America, Camp Fire, and the USO.