Lead A Friend to Health and See the Rewards

laf-web-bannerThe Lead a Friend to Health promotion is back and for all the right reasons. From the goodness of your heart… help others start a healthy lifestyle!

From April 1-30, referring members receive a special thank you gift from YMCA Calgary when friends join. When your friends sign-up, you receive YCredits!

Use your Y Credits towards:

  • Experiencing the Plus Locker Room
  • Registering for a Y program they haven’t tried before
  • Trying different classes with a Flex Pass
  • Discovering new heights with Indoor climbing programs

Helping others start a healthy lifestyle is a wonderful way to build healthy communities together. Share your YMCA experience and encourage friends, colleagues and family to join. Visit Member Services at your YMCA Location to get started.

Promotion runs April 1-30.

Personal Training Experience @ Shawnessy YMCA


When asked to share comments about his experience with Personal Training at the Shawnessy YMCA, this is what Chris had to say:

“I have been asked to comment on the personal training experience I have had at the Shawnessy YMCA. Let me say that this experience has been very motivational and extremely beneficial to my health. I have become stronger and fitter than I have been in 20 years. What I have enjoyed the most is that my trainer is setting goals with me and working with me to ensure I meet those goals. We constantly discuss whether the programs are working and adjust when plateaus arise and then adjust so I get the most out of my workouts.

I like the flexibility that the training provides. I like the mix of strength and cardio workouts and the need for high intensity training sessions for maximum results.

The nutrition discussions are also encouraging, and have made me much more aware of how important this aspect of the training is to the whole picture.

Overall I find the personal training to be a complete holistic approach that I can take ownership of and improve my enjoyment of life.”

We couldn’t have said it better! Keep up the awesome work Chris!

Camp Chief Hector YMCA | Open House

Join us at Camp Chief Hector YMCA for our annual Open House

Sunday, June 1, 2014 | 1-3pm

This is a great opportunity to see our site with your campers, family or friends. The Camp Director and senior staff team will be available to answer questions.

Site tours leave regularly from Bowfort Lodge. Have a look inside a tipi. See our high and low ropes courses, climbing tower, horse corrals and more. Try canoeing, arts & crafts, archery and pony petting.

RSVP not required. Directions to Camp Chief Hector YMCA.


Pow Wow Drum and Dance has Connected My Family to Our Culture

drum and dance

Like many Metis people, my family only recently began to connect with who we are and where we come from.

My name is Stacey, and this is my Y story.

I have two children, they are 5 and 7 years old and they have a burning desire to connect with their culture. We found out about the Community YMCA’s Pow Wow Drum and Dance program and can’t get enough of it.My little girl loves learning hand drum songs and my son will sit around the big Pow Wow drum all evening. Earl, our Drum Keeper is his hero.

My kids talk about going to Drum and Dance all week long. Whenever it is cancelled due to a holiday break or bad weather, we are so sad. We love going to Pow Wow Drum and Dance. It brings us together as a family. It has changed our lives for the better, giving us the opportunity to connect with our culture and with each other. We get to explore our culture and do physical activity. It’s always full of laughter and makes us so happy when we can be there.

We are learning learn songs, dances, how to drum, and other aspects of our indigenous culture. With this new community of other indigenous people, we are learning the importance of oral tradition and storytelling, feasting, making offerings, and respecting things that are sacred (like drums).

My kids are bringing these lessons home, teaching the songs to other kids on their school bus, and showing the value of their culture to the people around them. They are often found singing songs or naming animals in Ojibwa, Cree and Blackfoot.

Drum and Dance has ignited the passion in our veins and love in our hearts to follow who we are. From the bottom of our hearts – miigwetch.

Giving My Kids Opportunities Beyond My Imagination

girls at camp

I was working in a hotel as a housekeeper. I was a single mom with two young kids, Colton and Amber. Their father left the picture shortly after they were born, and I was living pay cheque to pay cheque, trying to make sure my kids had food on the table and shoes on their feet. The thought of registering them in after-school soccer, summer camps or dance classes had never been an option. I just couldn’t afford it.

My name is Tracey, and this is my Y story.

One morning, a coworker and I were cleaning a hotel room and we began to talk about our kids. I told her the struggles I was experiencing – not being able to give them the opportunities their friends had. She told me about the YMCA and how she was able to register her kids in summer camps. Over lunch, I called the Y and talked to a camp coordinator about financial assistance and camp options. A few months later, I sent both Colton and Amber to their first experience of summer camp.

I remember the first day I dropped Amber off at the bus. She was really nervous as we drove up to the meeting place and got her signed in. It was amazing how warm and welcoming everyone was to both of us right away.

Amber is an adult now – she went to camp for seven years. Those experiences allowed her to grow an amazing foundation that has given her a passion to work with others and be a leader. It’s great to see that she still keeps in touch with the friends she met years ago at camp.

Colton first went to Camp Chief Hector YMCA when he was seven years old. He was more scared than Amber his first time – they even had to rearrange his room so that he could sleep close to a counselor, and he kept a flashlight on throughout the night. Colton has always been a very withdrawn, reclusive boy who easily gets upset and angry. Each year, I couldn’t believe he actually lasted through the whole week. The counselors were amazing with him; they gave him the male support he needed and helped him grow self-confidence.

Camp Chief Hector YMCA has changed the lives of my kids and encouraged wonderful changes in our family. Without the financial help from YMCA Calgary, I never would have had the funds to send them to camp and they would not have the solid foundation for adult life that they gained through those experiences.

YMCA YMAP Program Put Me On the Right Path

This story was originally posted in 2006. It’s such an inspiring story, we had to share it again.

YMAP group

I came face-to-face with my fear of heights on top of the ropes course at YMCA Camp Chief Hector. I could hear my friends cheering me on from the safety of the ground, a long, LONG way down. I slowly made my way across, terrified but exhilarated. There was just one thing I didn’t quite understand – how was trusting my life to some rope and a harness supposed to prepare me for the workforce?

My name is Milton, and this is my Y story.

In the winter of 1999 I was 17 and had just arrived from the Philippines, I went into the YMCA to ask about a gym membership. The woman I talked to realized that without a job and just adjusting to English, I wasn’t ready for a membership fee. Instead, she suggested YMAP, the YMCA Achievement Program. YMAP, she told me, would teach me leadership and job search skills and let me gain actual job experience through work placements. All that and free gym access. I was sold.

I started attending YMAP meetings where we learned how to set goals, write resumes and cover letters, and prepare for successful interviews. We learned public speaking, customer service and first aid. We learned leadership skills through, among other things, trips to YMCA Camp Chief Hector. I also developed great friendships, many of which I still have and cherish.

Then came the work placement. In the spring and summer of 2000 I began six weeks of job shadowing at RBC Royal Bank. I was placed with the customer service representatives (CSRs), and it was… very boring.

That’s when I learned my first lesson in being proactive. Instead of simply watching how the job was done, I soon took it upon myself to learn the routine. By the end of that summer I was fully trained as a CSR.

I left RBC to go back to school, but in December 2000 I had an offer to come back to work to cover some holidays. I wanted to accept, but at first I hesitated. My skills were rusty, I wasn’t very comfortable dealing with customers, and I wasn’t even that great at math! But then I remembered that day on the high ropes, and that with the right support and guidance I could achieve anything by stepping out of my comfort zone. I took the job.

Six years later, after working as a casual, then full-time CSR, then as personal banker, I am 25 years old and a relationship manager – one of the senior positions in the biggest bank in Canada. I’ve worked hard to get here, but it was YMAP that set me on the right path by teaching me skills, opening doors, and by letting me prove to myself what I was capable of. The best part is I’m just getting started.

The YMCA Helped Me Change My Life

laughing woman

My family and I were already subsidized members at Shawnessy YMCA when my husband saw a poster. The Alberta Cancer Board was seeking participants for a weight-loss study.

Losing weight was something I had thought about for four years, but always put off. I was obese at 231 pounds and felt it every hour of every day. This time, with the right supports, I decided to give it a try.

My name is Diane, and this is my Y story.

In addition to eating well, I began regular exercise. I started by talking to the Shawnessy weight floor staff. Lex, a staff member, showed me how to use the equipment, and suggested some exercises from the FitLinxx program for me to do regularly.

The staff were so friendly and supportive. If I wondered whether I was doing an exercise right, I just had to ask them. They encouraged me to keep going. After a few months, I realized I had outgrown my routine. That’s when Rob, the fitness director, suggested a personal trainer. I was given a subsidy for training sessions and took my workouts to a new level.

Sixteen weeks later, I had lost over 44 pounds.

It feels wonderful. I have so much more energy, and I feel healthy and strong. My kids have benefitted as well – because they are also Shawnessy members, we can go swimming and use the facility together.

I’ve had to work very, very hard at it, but losing weight has been much easier and quicker than I expected. I don’t think I could have done it without the Shawnessy YMCA. The subsidized fees, the encouraging weight floor staff, my personal trainer Allison, and a facility that my whole family can use together really made a difference in fitting regular exercise into my life.

To anyone struggling with weight, I want to say, “I did it, and so can you!”

To the Shawnessy YMCA, I want to say, “Thanks for changing my life.”

Camp Chief Hector Gave My Kids A Sense of Purpose

This story was originally posted in 2009. It’s such an inspiring story, we had to share it again.

Camp Chief Hector

I recently received an email from my daughter Juliette who works for the Community YMCA. The end of her message read, “YMCA Calgary: We build strong kids, strong families and strong communities.” As I look at my family today, I see four strong kids and a united strong family that continues to reap the rewards of YMCA programs.

My name is Amanda, and this is my family’s Y story.

Our journey with the YMCA began some 15 years ago when our family life was turned upside-down. I was sitting down to a cup of tea with a friend when the phone rang. My husband, the breadwinner of our family, had broken the law and would be taken away from us. Suddenly a single mom of four young children, I knew that our lives would never be the same.

I was passionate about parenting. I adored my children and wanted nothing but the best for them. How would I be able to give them everything I dreamt of, as a single mom in dire financial need? I remember all the clichés – every cloud has a silver lining, the darkest hour before the dawn.

For us, there were some silver linings. Our true friends came to the forefront. One such friend, Chris, told me there was a way to have the childhood experiences I wanted for my children. I visited the South YMCA and applied for subsidies that would send my two eldest to YMCA Camp Chief  Hector. I felt ashamed and embarrassed to reveal our family’s financial status, but the applications were approved. Juliette and Alistair could to go to camp for $35 apiece instead of $800. I couldn’t believe there were angels out there who cared enough to support my family.

As a mother, helping my children achieve a sense of purpose is part of what it means to be a parent. A sense of purpose is just what Camp Chief Hector instilled in the lives of each of my kids.

When I picked them up from camp that first summer, Juliette came running across the field in her oversized blue rain boots and borrowed rain jacket. “Mummy,” she said, “I want to be a counselor and a leader one day.”

When they were old enough, my youngest sons attended Camp Chief Hector too. Clifford, the middle brother, described it as “an initiation into manhood,” and he hasn’t been the same since, shifting from drugs and poor choices to a life of purpose and direction. I knew there had been a change in Christopher, the youngest and painfully withdrawn, when I read a letter he sent home.

“Mum,” it read, “I am having so much fun. You know how I am shy? Well, after the first day I have made some friends. In fact, we are already ‘tight.’” Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks.

Today, our journey with YMCA is stronger than ever. Juliette and Alistair both work with the Community YMCA, helping to build strong communities for our future. All four children are still involved with Camp, either as alumni, volunteers, staff or campers.

I do not know where we would be if it were not for the generosity of YMCA Calgary’s Strong Kids donors and the amazing, gifted staff. YMCA truly does build strength in people, and in families.

Cancer, Kids, and the YMCA


Having a sick child is the last thing any parent wants to think about. But it happened to us. And to our beautiful daughter Julia, who was barely three years old.

My name is Dave, my wife is Christy, and this is our Y story.

When Julia, our middle child, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a rare form of bone cancer – we felt overwhelmed. It happened so fast. We brought her to the hospital because she was limping and within 24 hours she was diagnosed with the same cancer Terry Fox had. Julia didn’t walk on her own again for the next 18 months.

Julia’s treatments were intensive and took a physical and emotional toll on our entire family. She had reconstructive surgery and 30 weeks of chemotherapy. The tumour was on her right femur near her hip. The doctor’s took out most of her femur and made her knee function as her hip and her ankle function as her knee. She then had to learn how to use a prosthesis to walk.

Her pain levels were high, but she is a trooper. Little kids aren’t like adults – they don’t feel sorry for themselves. Julia was sweet and chipper in good moments, and quiet and sometimes a little irritable in bad moments. Even on the worst days, when her mouth was so sore from medication that she couldn’t talk, Julia would find a smile for her baby sister Jael.

Our oldest child Joshua, just fifteen months older than Julia, really stepped up to help take care of little Jael during Julia’s recovery. It was hard on him, he had to be much more responsible than normal kids his age, but we’ve see how compassionate he’s become.

During Julia’s recovery we went to Crowfoot YMCA. Our neighbour, Sharon, volunteered there and sometimes took Josh with her so he could have a break from the stress of hospitals. Sharon encouraged us to get involved too.

Cancer’s toll isn’t just huge emotional and physical – it’s financial too. We both took time off work to care for Julia and we didn’t have the money to pay for activities for our kids. Sharon kept telling us about the YMCA and  the benefits activities there could have for our family, so we agreed to meet with a Y staff member.

When we met Sue, who was at that time the General Manager of Crowfoot YMCA, we were overwhelmed. It is very humbling to share your entire story and financial situation with a complete stranger, but Sue was amazing. She was non-judgmental and compassionate and explained how the YMCA could subsidize the fees for us so our children could participate in programs and activities. We had memberships for our family very soon after talking with Sue.

Our involvement with the Y has done wonders for our kids. It gives Josh the opportunity to be a kid again and have consistent activities just for him. Josh and Julia, so close in age, are the best of friends and have taken science classes and cooking lessons together. Jael loves gym and swim and we swim together as a family on Saturdays.

The YMCA has become a community for us. Our kids are happy there and the staff and volunteers really care about them. Josh, Julia and Jael have been able to explore their individual interests through the YMCA. They call it “their Y”.

Julia is doing really well and is adjusting to her new leg. Her spirits are high and our family is back on track. We know this is, in a huge way, due to the caring environment at the YMCA. We’re so thankful for all the Y has done for our children.

112th Annual General Meeting and Volunteer of the Year Presentations

On behalf of Helene Weir and Evan Hazell, we would like to invite you to our Annual General Meeting and Volunteer of the Year Presentations. It’s open to everyone and no RSVP is required. We hope to see you there!

Eau Claire YMCA
101 3 Street SW | Studio A|B | Third Floor
Wednesday, April 30
5:00 – 6:00 pm Reception and Refreshments
6:00 – 7:30 pm Meeting and Volunteer of the Year Awards