Gray Jay Clean Up

On Friday, June 13 a group of YMCA Calgary staff headed out to clean up the Gray Jay camp site and remove debris and trash that had accumulated over the winter months.

The weather wasn’t great – it was raining, it was 4 degrees Celsius. But Cris brought a great lunch and we worked hard and it was so worth it.  It’s a great place for youth to really see the wilderness.

Cleaning up camp


Gray Jay is an outtrip site of Camp Chief Hector YMCA. Groups of youth go out to the wilderness at Gray Jay to hike, trail ride, and gain inspirational leadership experience.

A Picture Says a Thousand Words

A lovely picture handed in this morning at Eau Claire YMCA by two of our younger members, able to access the YMCA through our Strong Kids Campaign.

Strong Kids Thank You Letter and Drawing

Thank you to everyone who supports Strong Kids for helping to impact the lives of these two wonderful boys.

Crowfoot Summer Day Camps

gym kids

Crowfoot YMCA Summer Day Camps

Voted by 2013 Calgary’s Child Magazine Parents’ Choice awards for Best Children’s Day Camp, YMCA Crowfoot Summer Camps are back to for another exciting summer! We have limited spots so register early so your camper can experience the highlight of their summer!

What better way to spend the summer than with friends- old and new, kicking a soccer ball or figuring out whose cannonball made the biggest splash in the pool? Crowfoot YMCA Summer Daycamps offers each child the opportunity to grow, thrive, lead and belong in a safe, fun and exciting environment.

Whether they are making geckos out of beads & string, a new superhero mask, or visiting great places in and around Calgary such as Rotary Park, Butterfield Acres, TELUS Spark, each day in our Daycamps guarantees not be the same as the last.

Register today to reserve your child a place and get them ready for an action packed summer. Call 403-547-6576!

Find out more about Crowfoot YMCA here.


10 Tips for Biking Safely

Men with bikes

10 Tips for Biking Safely

Biking is a fun and healthy family activity, and a great way to get from A to B. But don’t forget about some basic safety tips.

1 – Wear a well-fitting helmet. Everyone should wear a helmet, even adults and toddlers in bike trailers. The helmet should be snug and cover the forehead, two fingers should fit between the chin strap and chin. By law, all cyclists under 18 need to wear a helmet. Four provinces in Canada have laws that all cyclists must wear a helmet.

2 – Know your hand signals. Let the cars and people around you know what you’re going to do. You can find hand signals here.

3 – Have a bell and use it. Again, let cyclists and pedestrians around you know what you’re going to do, especially when you are coming up behind them to pass.

4 – Know what’s around you. Be aware of possible hazards around you, including other vehicles, road or path conditions, pedestrians, pets, and even parked cars.

5 – Be cautious coming down hills or going around blind corners. Remember that the uphill cyclist has the right of way.

6 – Walk your bike on crosswalks. Crosswalks are for pedestrians, so become a pedestrian by walking your bike. If you would like to ride through the intersection, remember to remain a vehicle and cross the intersection on the roadway rather than in the crosswalk.

7 – Only ride on bike paths or the street and give way to pedestrians. When you are riding your bike you are a vehicle (ie. car). Sidewalks, like crosswalks, are for pedestrians.

8 – Obey the rules of the road. Again, when you are riding your bike, you are a vehicle. Stop at stop signs and red lights, stay in your lane, pass on the left, ride single file, go with, not against, the flow of traffic and give pedestrians the right of way.

9 – Wear bright colours so you can be seen. Cars, other cyclists, and pedestrians can’t see you if it’s getting dark and you’re wearing all black.

10 – Have a reflector or light if you plan on biking during dusk or dark. You’re a lot smaller than a car and drivers have a lot less visibility. Be seen.

CAA has a great Bike Safety website with tips for cyclists and drivers to share the road, a quiz and even a cyclist road test. If you ride on the road a lot, check it out.

Read our blog post about 6 Great Things About Biking here.

6 Water Safety Tips for Summer

Swimming at Saddletowne YMCA
Summer weather has begun to arrive in Calgary and many families are heading out to the lake to enjoy sunshine, sand, and water activities. Before you grab your boogie boards, beach balls, and brightly coloured towels remind yourself of some water safety tips.

1 – Make sure everyone knows how to float and swim. Teaching kids some basic swimming skills and how to properly float can save lives. The YMCA offers swim lessons for people all ages.

2 – Wear a lifejacket. Even if you know how to swim. Even if you’re not in a boat. Even if the water doesn’t seem all that deep. Red Cross Alberta suggests that wearing a lifejacket could eliminate up to 90% of all boating-related drownings.

3 – Always supervise and never go alone. Practice the buddy system when going on or in open water and always supervise children when around water, even if it’s just a kiddie pool or bathtub.

4 – Recognize the current. It’s easy for someone to get swept away in a current or surprised by sudden drop-off. Be cautious when swimming in open water.

5 – Respect wildlife. Nature and bodies of water are home to a lot of wildlife. For your safety and theirs, respect their space and keep your distance from them.

6 – Protect your skin. Playing out in the water and sunshine is a lot of fun, but it also exposes your skin to rays and reflections. Slather on a high SPF and reapply every few hours.

As always, keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.

It’s YYC Bike Month!

Family Biking


The City of Calgary has declared June to be Bike Month. There are events throughout June all over the city.

Check out the City of Calgary’s website for events and a fun checklist of things to with your bike.

There’s even an iphone with maps of the City of Calgary’s Pathways & Bikeways! (I’ve downloaded it and it’s great!)


6 Great Things About Biking

1 — You can cycle alone or with a group. My husband and I love biking together on the paths along the Bow River, the trails in Fish Creek Park, or on trails in Canmore and Banff.

2 – It’s free! Yes, you need a bike – but the one-time cost opens up an infinite number of days of free activities.

3 – Anyone can go on a bike ride! Babies can ride in seats or trailers, toddlers can ride tricycles or bicycles with training wheels, and kids and youth can get their very own bikes in whatever colour they choose. I grew up going on family bike rides along the trails in Red Deer – a caravan of six bicycles in a row, Dad leading and Mom being a watchful rearguard.

4 – Biking is easy on the joints. My brother has had multiple knee surgeries and running is just too painful now, but biking he can do with ease.

5 – You get to be outside and see the scenery. One of the best parts of biking is discovering new paths, new neighbourhoods, and new areas of nature. You can enjoy warm weather and cooler weather alike, all you need is a light jacket and the exercise of pedaling to keep you warm.

6 – You can go fast or slow. Some folks enjoy the speed and the breeze, others prefer meandering along quiet paths or streets. I love seeing how fast I can get going, then tackling a big hill, and then I cool down with a slow meandering pedal through a neighbourhood and enjoy the scenery of nature and the always interesting diversity among the facades of older homes.


Before you head out on your family bike ride, check out our 10 Tips for Biking Safely blog post.


6 Ways to Make a Family Walk FUN


It’s great for your health.

It’s great for the environment.

It’s great for your family.

Going for a family walk on a Saturday afternoon or on a weeknight after dinner is a great way to secure focused family time. It’s a space to unplug from technology, focus on each other and explore your neighbourhood or even other parts of the city.

6 Ways to Make a Walk Fun

                1 – Races! Who can get to that mailbox first?

                2 – Make up stories about what you see.

                3 – Talk about your day, ask and answer questions about what you see around you.

                4 – How many different ways can you walk?

                5 – Take a picnic with you and search for the perfect picnic spot.

                6 – Pass a Frisbee or ball back and forth as you walk (just not near the street, to be safe)

Share your tips for making walks fun on twitter with #fun2walk

Don Banton: Relationship-Builder


This is a special morning for Eau Claire YMCA’s Don Banton.

It starts like every other morning for the past 14 years. Don comes into work at 5:00 a.m. to the Men’s Plus locker room, to keep the place spic and span as a supervisor. The soap dispensers are full, the counters are clean and the towels are stacked, as they always are under Don’s care. But this morning, Don’s again doing what he’s REALLY good at — smiling. Chatting. Remembering names. Inquiring after members’ loved ones. Connecting.

This morning is Don’s last on the job before a well-earned retirement. To celebrate, a very large group of early morning exercisers – the “5:30 crowd” –  gather to shake Don’s hand, take his picture, sing his praises. They recall how Don is the first to visit them in the hospital if they are sick, congratulate them on a new child or grandchild or offer a hand if they need it. Always with that smile.

Besides a cake (which was undoubtedly the strangest cake order the bakery has every received) Don’s YMCA family gives him an all-expenses-paid cruise for he and his wife,  a lifetime membership to the locker room he used to service and the distinction of being the first inductee into the “order of the golden basket” (it will hold his sneakers while working out at the Y.) By everyone assembled, these are considered small tokens compared to what Don’s given to them every morning.  The celebration is energetic, overflowing with camaraderie and a highlight of everyone’s day. Just like Don.

Today is the 170th anniversary of the YMCA worldwide. It’s survived and thrived this long because of people like Don Banton.

Happy retirement Don. You made our mornings.


Changes to Open Y Day

Open Y Day is getting a makeover.

It’s going to be bigger, better, and more exciting.

But…it’s also going to be a little less frequent.

Excited YMCA Staff

We started offering free all-day access to our facilities on Open Y Day in September 2010 to engage the community and show people what we have to offer.

After four years of offering the same experience every third Sunday of the month, we’ve decided it’s time for a change.

Starting September 2014, Open Y Day will be Community Wellness Day.

Community Wellness Days will still offer free access to the public. These days will also have free special events, YMCA activities and workshops with community partners. Basically, they will be more exciting, more interesting, and more fun!

These special days will be organized a few times each year. YMCA Calgary locations will host Community Wellness Days on different dates to allow families to attend every event.

The last Open Y Day will occur on June 15, 2014.

Our next Community Wellness Day will take place in September 2014. Check back here, on our YMCA Calgary blog, for more details closer to September.

Healthy Kids Day at the Eau Claire YMCA

DK3_2770   Toddlers Playing

Join in all the fun planned for Healthy Kids Day on Sunday, June 1 from 10:00am to 1:00pm at the Eau Claire YMCA.

Take part in loads of fun activities and make sure to see all of the great choices at our family resource fair:

  • Day camps and Outdoor Day Camps at Riveredge information booth
  • Sugar Content Awareness table
  • Calgary Public Library
  • Passport Station (awarding prizes for full passports)
  • Healthy Snacks
  • And much more!