It may depend on the program. But we've been members of our ymca for about 3yrs now. My son went to preschool there and we are signing him and his dad up for adventure guides this year. They don't proselytize. There is the occasional reference to a bible version on a sign, but no crosses or anything like that. Funnily enough, we lost the best yoga instructor we had because she played Christmas music during a class one time. And by Christmas, I don't mean religious songs, I mean - Baby It's Cold Outside and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Someone complained and she was let go. So as far as we can tell, it's a firm policy they actually enforce that there is no proselytizing in their programs.
They also offer scholarships to people who can't afford their programs and do afterschool programs and summer camps and honestly, I trust them more then I do some other places as far as feeling comfortable that my son isn't going to be indoctrinated there. Hope this helps.
Don't know about how it is generally in practice, but the official line is:
In 1997, at the 14th World Council of YMCAs, the World Alliance of YMCAs adopted Challenge 21 as its modern-day statement of mission for the 21st century:
Affirming the Paris Basis adopted in 1855, as the ongoing foundation statement of the mission of the YMCA, at the threshold of the third millennium, we declare that the YMCA is a world-wide Christian, ecumenical, voluntary movement for women and men with special emphasis on and the genuine involvement of young people and that it seeks to share the Christian ideal of building a human community of justice with love, peace and reconciliation for the fullness of life for all creation.
Each member YMCA is therefore called to focus on certain challenges which will be prioritized according to its own context. These challenges which are an evolution of the Kampala Principles
- Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and striving for spiritual, intellectual and physical well-being of individuals and wholeness of communities.
- Empowering all, especially young people and women to take increased responsibilities and assume leadership at all levels and working towards an equitable society.
- Advocating for and promoting the rights of women and upholding the rights of children.
- Fostering dialogue and partnership between people of different faiths and ideologies and recognizing the cultural identities of people and promoting cultural renewal.
- Committing to work in solidarity with the poor, dispossessed, uprooted people and oppressed racial, religious and ethnic minorities.
- Seeking to be mediators and reconcilers in situations of conflict and working for meaningful participation and advancement of people for their own self-determination.
- Defending God’s creation against all that would destroy it and preserving and protecting the earth’s resources for coming generations. To face these challenges, the YMCA will develop patterns of co-operation at all levels that enable self-sustenance and self-determination.
That's a good point about the "M" being from it's past, so the "C" could be too. That does make me feel a little better. For me, I will just find bible verses and other things annoying like that (esp. because I know my county paid for the gym's construction). I am mostly concerned about what they may tell my daughter if she ever goes to any of their programs.
We are members of a different gym here (totally secular). It doesn't have childcare and I really wish it did. But it has other things I like. I don't know that I will actually join the Y (although the childcare and indoor pool are tempting) but I would consider sending my daughter to their day camp or swimming lessons if it is secular.
Thanks for your help.
I worked there for 5 years in my early twenties and did not come across one thing that was 'Christian' except that we didn't observe any other religions holidays (except for the childcare part that was tied in w/ the school system?) They have an amazing retirement plan, pay well, and it was the most fun place to work.
They are really good at 'writing grants', which is prob. how they got someone else to foot the bill... they actually had a person on staff just for that purpose alone. They seem to reeeeeeealy like someone elso to foot the bill for all things Y. The Y even has it's own 'college' http://www.spfldcol.edu/homepage/dept.nsf/ymca! (no, I did not attend) Pretty hard core there in the back. LOL
It definitly sounds like location is key though LOL we were in E. PA and the bible verses on the machines would NOT have flown in our area!
It should be the Young (and Old's) Everyones' Community Association :)
Best of luck