YMCA Kyiv – getting off the ground!

The past month has been an incredible adventure which I had the joy of sharing with Carla Bitz, who I was sad to see off at Kyiv Zhuliany Airport yesterday. I could not have asked for a better travel companion – she is open minded and adapted well to the often impromptu nature of life in Ukraine. We shared many productive conversations and many laughs (some of you may have read about the “raw bacon incident” in Carla’s blog…).

At the beginning of June I had the opportunity to work at the National YMCA Camp in Crimea, which was attended by participants from various regions of the country such as Kyiv, Antransyt, Verhovena, L’viv and Lugansk. Campers had the opportunity to try their hand at activities such as floorball and sewing, as well as spend lots of time on the beach! One of the highlights of camp for me was teaching the kids camp songs in English – they always get a laugh out of seeing how silly a Canadian girl can be, singing about moose who drink juice and princesses and their rick-a-bamboos.

Canadian campfire songs in Crimea

A few hours after I arrived home to Kyiv from Crimea, I was happy to welcome Carla and show her around my new city. Not long after she arrived, we travelled to Western Ukraine where we participated in Swityaz camp. The progress made by YMCA Volyn since my first visit in 2009 is incredible and inspiring. They have made renovations of the camp facilities, the number of participants has tripled, they have an expanded and strong team of counselors and staff, and the program was organized and diverse. The sustained effort and dedication of YMCA Volyn leaders has helped them grow in to the strong association they are!

Swityaz staff team!

Swityaz staff team!

After a few more adventures in the West, including a visit to YMCA L’viv, I have arrived home to Kyiv where I am pleased to reconnect with local volunteers. We have met a number of times to discuss our plans for the new local association. Our first event as the local association of YMCA Kyiv will be on Saturday July 20th. It will be an abstract art workshop taught by one of our local volunteers – Lidia Moroz. We hope to continue hosting events throughout the summer, such as community sports events, park cleanups and visits to boarding houses. In the fall we hope to establish YMCA Kyiv floorball teams for both boys and girls. I am so pleased to start getting our local branch off the ground, and could not ask for better volunteers to be working with!

YMCA Kyiv volunteer meeting

YMCA Kyiv volunteer meeting


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