Youth Development Summit

October 7-9, 2019 | REGISTER HERE

If you are a YMCA staff member passionate about your work in the areas of early childhood, afterschool programing or working with teens, the Youth Development Summit is for you!

This innovative conference will empower attendees through personal and professional leadership training that will help them improve their programs, strengthen their teams, and truly influence the lives of the youth they work with. The Youth Development Summit is also an approved conference for YMCA Leadership Recertification credit*. 

See this year's schedule and keynote speaker biographies.

This year's keynote speakers will include YMCA of the USA President and CEO Kevin Washington. You may view the 2018 workshops below.

*recertification credit applies to staff who have earned the Multi-Team Leader Certification or the Organizational Leader Certification.



Learn guidance techniques that reduce inappropriate behaviors and guide children to pro-social actions while you’re building their self-esteem, thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and conflict resolution skills.  Come away with a guidance worksheet that assists you in solving everyday misbehaviors as they appear, and preventing them from becoming bad habits.

Engaging LGBTQ+ Youth in Y Programming

The Y is committed to addressing critical social issues and supporting the well-being and safety of LGBTQ youth, adults, seniors and families is an important need in our communities. Despite progress over the last decade, LGBTQ youth LGBTQ youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide, represent up to 40% of the homeless youth population, and face disproportionately high rates of poverty, food insecurity and violence. In this workshop, participants will explore and discuss:

  • What do LGBTQ+ youth face?
  • Understanding LGBTQ+ terminology
  • What can we do to help?
  • LGBTQ+ youth resources for creating safe and affirming spaces.

Year-Round Teens

Teen are commonly the most “at promise” program at the Y.  This means there are so many opportunities to serve our middle and high school age youth, but we sometimes struggle to find a place for them in our building.  This workshop is designed to figure out ways to building programming around the needs in YOUR community, rather than relying on a signature or traditional program.

Spiritual Fitness and Resiliency

This workshop is designed to define the importance of personal spiritual fitness and resiliency as it relates to character development.  Four healthy dimensions of wellbeing will be described: spiritual, physical, social/family and emotional.  An enthusiastic lecture format will include skills building exercises.  The presenters will help the audience complete a spiritual inventory and teach them practical ways of increasing spiritual growth and fitness which in turn helps will all relationship building.

the mentoring effect: the role of relationship

A one to one mentoring relationship with a caring adult changes the trajectory of a young person’s life.  With the support of a caring adult, youth can develop new problem solving skills and create positive pathways to healthy personal growth. Because there are 16 million young people who need a supportive and caring adult, the group will discuss ideas and practices to incorporate mentoring (formally or informally) as a Y strategy. Participants will bring home the tools and the language to incorporate mentoring and the power of the relationship into all Y programs. 

Tweens & Teens: Creating a Culture of Acceptance

Tweens and Teens deal with a lot of emotional highs and lows; one minute they feel great, the next they feel sad and tearful. Creating a welcoming and supportive environment during these often turbulent years requires intentional planning. This session will explore the physical, cognitive, social and emotional changes that are happening and guide participants to support tweens and teens in their summer camps. Participants will learn to create cultures within their programs that are accepting and provide a safe environment where everyone can thrive. 


At the Y, the word “character” reflects a commitment to the values, attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors that prepare youth to thrive in learning, in work, and in life. Influential and effective character development requires intentional programming and design, management of talent, effective partnerships, and evaluation. In 2016, the YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) launched the Character Development Learning Institute (CDLI) to renew and strengthen our commitment to character development practices across youth programs through a collaborative and deliberate process of verifying, adapting, scaling and sharing evidence-based best practices. Learn how the Character Development Learning Institute is working to close the gap between theory and practice that will benefit millions of young people in communities across America.

Let us play! a new approach to old games

Tired of seeing your staff play the same old games? Come learn new ways to modify all the old classics into brand new games. This session will present the evidence-supported LET US Play principles of removing Lines, eliminating Elimination, reducing Team size, identifying Uninvolved staff/children, and modifying Space, equipment, and rules of games commonly played in camp to maximize children’s physical activity. Dress comfortably and plan to be active.


  If you want to offer a Leaders Club at your Y but were never sure how to start one, this is your workshop. We will cover many time tested practices that will allow you to build a program that will develop great skills in your teens while supporting many other programs within your branch. This program can have a positive impact on the lives of the teens….and the budget!!

STEM on a budget

STEM on a budget is an interactive workshop that touches base on different relevant topics shown below:

-Why is STEM important?

-Why is STEM important on early years of education?

-STEM abilities and 21st century skills. 

-STEM is all around us. 

-Simple materials and diverse STEM topics.

-STEM on a budget hands on activities. -Creating a mini makers space.


This workshop will help participants become better leaders by introducing them to ways to encourage leadership among themselves and other team members. Participants will leave with an action plan of twelve specific things they can do to develop leadership in themselves and others. 


This presentation will help you develop or modify a crisis management plan to suit your program and your YMCAs needs.  We will go over different crises that a director or staff member might face, and how to respond to it.  We will also discuss the importance of training staff and volunteers.  We will have time for a forum with questions and discussions on how other directors have had crises and how they managed them.


Leading and Managing are two different things. We'll discuss ways to lead and manage your staff to get the best out of them, resulting in great culture for your organization, incredible programs and a pipeline of leaders that, if invested in properly, become the next generation of full time staff at the Y.

Planning Supports for Children and Youth with Autism

Too often, autism is connected to the things children and youth “can’t” do: make eye contact, make friends, be a part of the group.  In this session, we will re-think these assumptions about autism and focus on how to use a strength-based perspective so we can embrace people with autism as uniquely human.  As a result, you will be able to develop accommodations that match up with each child’s strength’s and talents.


Global Engagement builds a foundation to foster understanding of the world and to develop culturally competent youth and teens who champion social responsibility and the inclusion of diverse backgrounds, perspectives and beliefs.  Global engagement equips youth and teens with the knowledge and skills to connect, cooperate and thrive in increasingly global communities.  Globally engaged teens are better prepared for life beyond high school. Learn about how to incorporate global education in teen programs, both in the short term and long term. Participants will walk away with a toolkit that includes:

  • Making the Case for Global Education
  • Make a Plan! Steps to Incorporate Global Engagement
    • Start Today! Short-Term Steps
    • It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint-Long-Term Steps
  • 34 Ideas to Incorporate Global Education in Teen Programs
  • Welcoming Teens from Newcomer/Immigrant Communities


Our front line staff can often feel over-worked and under-appreciated.  They’re often juggling school, sports, and home life.  While full-time staff might be more equipped with training opportunities and systems for on-going coaching and support, we often miss opportunities to better support part-time staff because of budget, time, or a number of other constraints.  This workshop will help you in gaining tools to better support front-line Youth Development staff through creating systems in your department to encourage coaching, peer mentoring and self-growth.


Whether you are looking to become full-time, salaried, or just take the next step in your career, this workshop will provide you with easy strategies for professional growth in your youth development position.

Wearing Many Hats.... How to Make it All Work

This workshop will help you find the tools that will help you to manage multiple programs successfully. Participants will work through strategies that will help create habits of time management, delegation, prioritization, and organization with the goal of smooth transitions between seasons.

Youth Community Service: Matching Passion with Purpose

This workshop is designed to help youth leaders learn how to access the natural skills, talents and abilities of their group. The presenter will suggest practical and effective ways to merge a youth’s passion with a meaningful purpose for living.  This workshop will also highlight the leadership potential in today’s teenagers and how to teach them to broaden their worldview. The audience will also learn how to teach youth to develop their sense of empathy towards others and make a difference in their community. The presenter will emphasize the importance of esteem-building and how incredibly powerful this can build skills that carry into adulthood.

Living Out the Y’s Vision & Mission

In a world where everyone says the words Vision and Mission, we are going to take a very personal and very practical look at how to truly define these for the Y and to discover how you can personally and professionally live this out.

Setting Up Teens for Success: 5 Pillars for Teen Programs

Want to learn the “secret ingredients” every teen needs to thrive? Come check out the 5 Pillars for Teen Programs, and learn how to implement them in your Middle School and High School programs! Y-USA has piloted and tested this model over the past year, and is excited to be able to share eLearning, curriculum and evaluation tools and resources that can help you implement and strengthen these elements in your existing Teen programs. We will look at the research behind the 5 Pillars and explore what implementation looks like in action from the perspective of a local YMCA.

At Blue Ridge, we impact lives for a lifetime.