5 Golden Rules of Sunshine


Summer fun and sunshine just seem to go together.

We need sunshine – our skin absorbs Vitamin D. This vitamin is important for strong bones and teeth. But sunshine can also pose some risks, especially for children. Too much sun can cause sunburns, damage to the eyes, dehydration and sunstroke.

Protect yourself and your family from the sun by following some simple tips.


Seek Shade

Find shady spots whenever possible, or bring a sun shade or umbrella with you. You’ll still get the benefits of being outside, but you’ll avoid potentially harmful direct rays. Babies under 12 months old should always be kept out of direct sunlight.


Drink Water

Heat and sweat can cause you to become dehydrated faster than normal. Check out our tips on avoiding dehydration and making water more exciting here.



Wear sunscreen. Even if you’ll only be outside for 15 minutes. The higher the SPF the better. Reapply at least every two hours or more often if you’ve been sweating or playing in water. Do not put sunscreen on babies younger than 6 months old, keep them in shade instead.


Cover Up

Hats and light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants made of breathable fabric provide protection from harmful rays and will keep you surprisingly cool. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.


Limit Sun Time

Don’t spend prolonged time out in the sun. Take breaks to go indoors and cool off. Sunscreen is not meant to prolong time in the sun but to provide protection from it.


*Photos via Flickr: Ralph Daily & David Smith

Volunteer Math Tutors Needed!


Here’s a unique volunteer opportunity for those who love math!

The Community YMCA was excited to offer a hugely successful pilot program for high school math tutoring during the 2013/2014 school year. The Tutoring Table program was designed for motivated high school students struggling in math who were not able to access professional tutoring due to financial barriers. This program was offered in partnership with the United Way of Calgary and Area through the All In for Youth initiative. We couldn’t have done this program without the support of all of our volunteer math tutors! We had a total of 73 volunteers and 2284 volunteer hours during the first year of the pilot project.

Volunteers and students had a lot of positive things to say about the program. In fact, not only did many students see their grades increase, they also had a more positive attitude towards math and towards themselves. Volunteers built positive relationships with the youth, were able to help students through many struggles in math and even offer some career advice! Most of all, volunteers were happy that they could use their skill-set in math to help young people grow and thrive.

We are pleased to say that with the success in year one, the United Way of Calgary and Area has not only decided to continue the Tutoring Table program, but to expand it to even more locations in 2014/2015. Beginning this fall we will be offering it at four YMCA branches: Saddletowne, Eau Claire, Shawnessy and Crowfoot, as well as a fifth location in North-Central Calgary.

Of course, with such expansion we also need many more volunteers to help high school students with their math during the upcoming school year. In fact, a total of 45 new volunteers will be needed at these three locations: Saddletowne YMCA, Crowfoot YMCA and our North-Central location at Thornhill Baptist Church.

If you love math, enjoy working with youth and would like a unique opportunity to bring these two together while giving back to the community, please connect with Nada Rustom, Tutoring Director, at or 403-537-2713

Tutoring begins the third week of September and training is in August so if you’re interested please get in touch as soon as possible as all volunteers must complete a City of Calgary Police Information Check before starting, which can take up to 5 weeks.

by Angela Brown
Newcomer Programs Manager
Community YMCA

Every Day at Camp is an Adventure!

We’re asking parents why they send their kids to Camp Chief Hector YMCA.

Here’s what Shannon said:

“I’ve been sending my two happy campers to YMCA’s Camp Chief Hector for four years- since they were old enough to go! I have fond memories of CCH from when I was young so I couldn’t wait till they could go too. Every day at CCH is a fun adventure, no matter the weather!  I love that they learn about nature and First Nation’s culture in a nondenominational environment. The camp councilors are so enthusiastic and the kids just adore them. Everything is at CCH is well run- all the activities, the crafts, the meals, the outtrips and of course, grand council.

“We camp as a family but a week at Camp Chief Hector builds a sense of independence and self confidence that only comes from being away from home.

“We are grateful to have this wonderful camp so near to us and we plan to send our girls for as many years as possible. The eldest is already asking for a two week stay next summer!”


Here’s what her daughters told us:

CCH-Shannon1 CCH-Shannon2 CCH-Shannon3

Summer Health Tips

Young Couple Jogging exercise woman_35329534 Healthy fruit on table woman_51978604

Some ideas, activities and tips to share with everyone!

Motivate someone new
Although regular exercisers may not see their healthy lifestyle choices as anything out of the ordinary they may unconsciously be providing motivation to others. A simple Facebook post referencing a completed workout or simply watching another dedicated individual can provide a new exerciser that little push they need to get and stay active. Convince a friend to tag along to a boot camp or walk in the park and they will be forever thankful!

Try a new fruit
Summertime is filled with delicious and fresh fruits. Skip the ice-cream cone and curb that sweet tooth with a big fruit salad. Fruits are loaded with healthy nutrients!

BONUS TIP: fruit such as watermelon is also full of hydration!

Run on Dirt or Grass Instead of Pavement or Black Top
The sun doesn’t absorb into the dirt as easily and therefore will be cooler than the other surfaces.

Strength Train a Minimum of 2 Times a Week
Summer is a fun yet busy time for many people and workouts can often get pushed to the side. Weight training 2 times a week is enough to maintain muscle mass for an easy return to regular training in the fall.

Do a Good Deed
It is shown that people feel happier after preforming a Good Samaritan act. Mental health is just as important as physical health! For instance you could purchase a $5 coffee gift card and give it to a stranger, open the door for someone or it can be as simple as smiling at someone.

Volunteer at the Humane Society
The weather is perfect for a walk in the park. Stop by your local humane society and offer to take some dogs for a walk! Spending time with animals has also been proven to have a very positive affect on one’s mental health.

Try a New Physical Activity
Stuck in a gym rut? Summer is the perfect time to try hiking or a new active water sport such as paddle boarding or kayaking. All of these activities require great core strengthening and you may develop a new love for doing physical activity outdoors.

Go to the Farmers Market
Not only are you supporting your local businesses but you are getting locally grown and organic foods. Freshly picked vegetables and fruit have a much different taste than store-bought!


By Cassidy Sherrington
Shawnessy YMCA Strength & Conditioning Director


Free YMCA Memberships to Grade 6 Students

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YMCA Calgary and the Flames Foundation for Life are excited to announce a partnership to provide free YMCA memberships to all City of Calgary youth registered in Grade 6.

Grade 6 Membership Benefits:

  • Free membership for grade 6 school year
  • Access to all 5 city-wide YMCA Calgary locations
  • Access to no-cost programs such as Adventurers (leadership training including character development, communication, volunteerism, and fundraising) and Active Y Kids (physical activity, nutrition, and goal setting) and Flames Friday & Teen Night activities
  • Advanced registration and discounted fees for programs

Why Grade 6?

Studies have shown grade 6 is the age in which a child is faced with many decisions, often with two options – a healthy one and an unhealthy one.

At YMCA Calgary, we believe youth need a place to belong, to feel safe, and to explore and grow during the important developmental stage of their grade 6 year. We want to support our youth in this critical time as they:

  • age out of traditional care models
  • develop new interests
  • prepare for junior high

We intend to give grade 6 youth opportunities around leadership, recreation, and holistic health. Our ability to promote and build healthy relationships will help the youth

  • expand their pro-social networks
  • have opportunities to build healthy relationships with peers
  • establish relationships with positive, adult role models

Why is the Flames Foundation for Life partnering with the YMCA?

The Flames Foundation want to make Calgary the healthiest City in Canada and this is a step. We want youth to not only be active but to become educated in a healthy lifestyle. This includes teamwork, leadership, social skills, goal setting and positive decision making. We hope that this age group is exposed to elements of a healthy lifestyle and will have the education required to motivate healthy choices moving forward in their physical and mental development.

How does a Youth get a Grade 6 Membership?

Drop in to any YMCA Calgary location to complete a membership form for your youth (parent/guardian signature, proof of child’s grade required).

When does it start?

The Grade 6 Membership program will officially launch September 1, 2014. Students in grade 6 will be able to get a one year membership valid September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015, with the program continuing for new grade 6 students in September 2015.

10 Ways to Make Water More Exciting


We often hear that keeping yourself hydrated is a key to health and wellness. With hot summer temperatures it can be even more difficult to make sure we’re drinking enough fluid.

Common Signs of Dehydration

    • thirst
    • dizziness
    • tiredness
    • nausea
    • chills
    • headache
    • muscle cramps

Dehydration Stats

    • Adults need 2-3 litres of fluid per day
    • Sweating helps cool the body, but it can also cause dehydration if you haven’t been drinking enough
    • If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated
    • Sip water throughout the day rather than gulp it when you feel thirsty

Sometimes plain old water can be boring, especially when there are so many tastier (and more sugary) options out there in juices, sodas, iced teas, slurpees and frapps.

But water is still the best option for keeping the body hydrated. So… add some things to your water bottle (or your kids’ water bottles) to make it more exciting.

 10 Ways to Make Water More Exciting

1.   Lemon, Lime or BOTH!

2.   Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, oh my!

3.   Cucumber and Ginger

4.   Great balls o’melon!

5.   Fresh Mint

6.   Orange Slice ice cubes

7.   Frozen sliced grapes

8.   Cinnamon Stick it!

9.   Fun, funky water bottle

10. Colourful, twisty straws!

Tweet us your favourite water tips with #H2Otaste at @YMCA_Calgary.


Dehydration information from
Photos via

YMAP at Fiestaval

Last weekend, a group of YMAP-Infinity  young people (youth aged 18-25), volunteered at Fiestaval, Calgary’s Latin Festival.

They had a great time manning a booth at Olympic Plaza and raised money for YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. They definitely have reason to celebrate – they surpassed their fundraising goal!

Strong Kids provides financial assistance to children and youth to provide opportunities to participate in YMCA programs, including sports/fitness, leadership, day camps and summer camps.

Giving out YMCA Strong Kids balloons for a donation of Change for Change raised $134.60.

Thanks YMAP-Infinity and Fiestaval for helping support Calgary kids!





Nominate an Outstanding Calgarian!


Peace is advanced through the everyday actions of ordinary men, women and children. Young or old, working alone or in groups, locally or abroad. These peace-builders know that even small acts of kindness, courage, and understanding make a meaningful contribution to a better community and a more compassionate world.

Nominations for 2014 Peace Medals Recipients are now open.

We are now accepting nominations for our 2014 Peace Medals recipients. The recipients will be honoured at the 2014 Peace Medals event happening on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, during YMCA Peace Week. YMCA Peace Medal nomination is a great way to honour someone for their dedication to peace. Your nomination also helps create awareness about community needs and inspires others to get involved.

Help us celebrate and honour outstanding Calgarians.

The nomination categories are:

  • Community Peace Initiatives by an Individual
  • Community Peace Initiatives by a Group
  • Community Peace Initiatives by a Youth
  • International Peace Initiatives by an Individual
  • International Peace Initiatives by a Group
  • International Peace Initiatives by a Youth
  • Humanitarian Peace Initiative
  • YMCA Calgary Staff Peace Initiative


Download the Nomination Form


More Information

  • Contact Selena Gignac, International and Community Outreach Manager at 403-899-4047 or for more details.

YMCA Peace Week

A Ballet Inspired Workout

Have you been to the ballet recently? Ballet dancers are fit. They have muscle, endurance, and the artistic quality to make what they do look both easy and beautiful. I trained in ballet for almost 20 years. Basic ballet movements are still my go-to exercise. It leans, tones, and lengthens, builds strength and posture. While in the kitchen doing dishes or hanging out watching TV, I like to get in a short ballet-inspired work out. I use a sturdy chair or my kitchen counter as a ballet barre to hold on to with one hand for balance.

A Basic Ballet Movement Workout

Pliés & Rises

Pliés in first position are one of foundational steps of ballet. To plié means “to bend”.

1. Place your feet together and slowly rotate your legs from the hip so your feet form a small V shape, feet flat, toes out and heels together. This is first position.

2. Bend your legs, keep your knees over your toes and don’t let them fall inward toward each other. Your tailbone should point straight to the floor and your torso should remain upright.

3. Only go as far down as is comfortable.

4. Slowly straighten your legs and continue rising up onto the balls of your feet. Balance for a moment.

5. Slowly lower down until your feet are once again flat on the floor.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

You can make this more difficult by doing a plié while balancing on the balls of your feet.


Wide Pliés & Rises

Second position is a wider stance than first position.

1. Place your feet hip to shoulder width apart, with your toes still turned out like in first position.

2. Plié by bending your legs. Keep your knees over your toes and don’t let them fall inward toward each other. Your tailbone should point straight to the floor and your torso should remain upright. Only go as far down as is comfortable. You will probably be able to go lower than in first position.

3. Slowly straighten your legs and continue rising up onto the balls of your feet. Balance for a moment.

4. Slowly lower down until your feet are once again flat on the floor.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

You can make this more difficult by doing a plié while balancing on the balls of your feet.



A movement of the arms in ballet is called a port de bras. Look at the below sketch of ballet arm positions.


1. Hold your arms in front of your thighs, with a slight curve in the elbows to make fifth position en bas.

2. Slowly bring your arms up above your head to fifth position en haut. Stop once your hands are just in front of your forehead, as if shading your eyes from the sun.

3. Slowly open your arms to the sides, to second position of the arms. There should be a smooth slope from your shoulder down to your hands.

4. Slowly lower your arms further to return to fifth position en bas.

Do 2 sets of 10 reps.

You can do this port de bras with one arm or two. You can do it by itself, or combine it with the plié movements.



1. Lie face-up on the floor, legs extended, feet pointed.

2. Pull your abs in. Lift one leg up so your toes point to the ceiling. Keep your other leg straight, toes pointed.

3. Curl your back and shoulder blade and grasp your ankle or calf with your hands. Hold for 15-30 seconds.

4. Slowly lower your leg and repeat on the other side.

Do 5 reps on each leg.

Leg Lift Front

A leg lift is called a grand battement.

1. In first position, extend one leg forward, straight in front of your hip. Toes pointed, and leg turned out so your knee faces slightly to the side.

2. Lift your leg as high as you can, keeping your supporting leg and torso straight. Hold for 10 seconds.

4. Lower your leg and slide your foot back to first position.

5. Repeat with the other leg.

Do 5 sets of 5 lifts on each leg.


Leg Lift Behind

In first position, extend one leg backward, right behind your hip. Toes pointed, and leg turned out so your knee faces slightly to the side.

1. Lift your leg as high as you can, keeping your supporting leg and torso straight. Do not bend forward. Hold for 10 seconds.

2. Lower your leg and slide your foot back to first position.

3. Repeat with the other leg.

Do 5 sets of 5 lifts on each leg.



You’ve worked your muscled hard. Stretch out your quads, your calves, your groin, and your arms.


*Photo: yakovlev.alexey via flickr

There is Still Room for your Child at Camp Chief Hector

As of July 21, the following camps still have availability:


12-13Y Kananaskin 6-day | Jul 27 – Aug 1

12Y Kananaskin 13-day Traditional | Aug 17 – 29

15Y Pioneer 13-day Hike | Aug 17 – 29

14-15Y Pioneer 13-day Hike/Horse Gray Jay | Aug 17 – 29



12-13Y Kananaskin 6-day | Aug 24 – 29

14Y Pioneer 13-day Hike | Aug 3 – 15

15Y Pioneer 13-day Hike Gray Jay | Aug 3 – 15

16Y Leadership 1 Gray Jay Hike/Horse | 27-days | Aug 3 – 29


CONTACT US: 403-269-6156 or toll free 1-866-430-9622 As with all YMCA Calgary programs, financial assistance is available to those who qualify.