Annual Campaign funds are used to widen access to many life-changing programs. You can designate your gift to any program you are passionate about.
Living in the digital age, young people often do not have opportunities to spend meaningful time in nature. The Go Outside, Grow Outside program seeks to break through this barrier by getting kids, teens and families outside and active. Through experiential learning, recreation and outdoor adventure, children deepen their connection to the natural world, strengthen confidence and enhance teambuilding skills. Blue Ridge also helps families visit the Mountain for meaningful intergenerational experiences. Getting families outside and having fun through challenge courses, team-building and arts and crafts allows for bonding and quality time together.
All of these experiences are made possible by support from the Annual Campaign. Donations to the Annual Campaign ensure that no child or family is denied a life-transforming Mountaintop experience simply based on financial need.
Here is the impact of a Go Outside, Grow Outside experience:
“My team worked very well together. Once we realized that we all had a common goal, fears were thrown out the window.” –Taos
“I think the best part was Archery. I finally had my dream come true to pick up a bow and shoot an arrow.” - Claire
“I can do anything I put my mind to.” – Justin
“We can accomplish things if we work together.” - Andi
“The best part was bonding with my family. It meant a lot to me because I don’t get to spend enough time with them.” – Madi
At its heart Leaders’ School trains youth in the principles and philosophy of YMCA physical education to build their self-esteem, foster leadership development, strengthen Christian values and enhance the teaching skills and physical fitness of participants. Each summer over 700 teens from almost a dozen southeastern states descend on YMCA Blue Ridge for the honor of being a “Leader”.
The sprawling campus and inspirational surroundings of YMCA Blue Ridge provide the perfect setting for Leaders’ School. Based on a six-year curriculum, dedicated YMCA staff and volunteers teach classes in character development, physical wellness and coaching methods to the teens. At the end of the week, Leaders leave the Mountain not only energized about healthy living, but also instilled with greater confidence and the leadership ability forged from a week of character education and leadership training.
Here’s how Leaders’ teens described their experience
“What I’ve learned here has impacted me enough to really make up who I am. I’ve learned so much about responsibility, respect and having faith. I strive to encompass all the character traits I have learned. The relationships you make here, you might not have them at home, but then coming back here, it’s like you’ve never left.”
“I honestly value everything that I learn from the Mountain each day and I cannot wait to learn more and bring the spirit and knowledge of the Mountain back to my own community.”
YMCA Conference on National Affairs teaches young people about important public issues, the democratic form of government and the vital importance of civic engagement.
Every summer, over 600 teenage delegates from more than 30 states present carefully researched policy proposals and engage in intensive discussion and debate with other understanding young people in a mock government format. Thanks to the dedicated conference leaders from the YMCA of Greater Montgomery and the platform YMCA Blue Ridge offers, thousands of National Affairs delegates have strengthened their insights and skills to become outstanding civic and business leaders.
While delegates come away from the experience better informed citizens, the real impact resides in the lifelong relationships forged from a week of immersive collaboration and passionate discussion.
In the words of one delegate, “I wasn't living before I went to CONA. It fully awakened a sense of creativity and audacity in my heart. The notion that we should not only hope for the best for the country, but also have ideas that can genuinely improve it, fills me with confidence.”
The YMCA Christian Values Conference brings together over 400 teenagers of diverse backgrounds from across the country for a life-changing experience focused on spiritual growth, character development and peer bonding.
Surrounded by caring adults who are dedicated to mentoring teens, participants deepen their faith and learn positive life skills in a safe, nurturing Christian environment. Daily family discussion groups provide moral guidance and instill the importance of being an example to peers on and off the Mountain, while challenging team activities and one-of-a-kind games help foster a fun, welcoming atmosphere and lifelong relationships. The breathtaking natural setting of Blue Ridge complements the experience by serving as a constant reminder of God’s creation.
While the conference only lasts a week, its vision is more far-reaching: to build stronger communities and prepare the next generation of leaders by helping teens sharpen their moral beliefs and apply the values and lessons learned on the Mountain once they are home.
Here’s the impact in the words of one teen: “YMCA CVC is my time to step away from the noise of home and enter into a time of refreshing with God. Each year I am challenged to make a change. This is a huge reason why I return to Values each year!”
Through the LIVESTRONG Cancer Survivors program, we create weekend retreat experiences every spring for cancer survivors who have completed the LIVESTRONG exercise program at their hometown Y. Through expressive arts, nutrition classes, worship opportunities and group discussions, our goal is to encourage the hearts and restore the souls of these special guests. Thanks to support from the Annual Campaign, Blue Ridge offers this experience at no cost to cancer survivors. This year 60 cancer survivors and 10 spouses joined us for a weekend of fellowship, reflection, learning and renewal.
Here is what some of our guests said:
“I came here very sad, unwilling to do anything. I’m leaving happier, wanting to live longer and be able to enjoy my family, my husband and my sons.”
“I always worry about financial matters. This weekend I didn’t think about it.”
“I was alone, isolated – but now I remember that everyone has their story and God never leaves us.”
Each spring we welcome YMCA professionals and volunteers to the Mountain for a weekend of fellowship, Christian inspiration and workable strategies on how to share Christian values and the YMCA mission in all programs. This year 149 participants from North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia joined us to help promote the “C” in YMCA.
Blue Ridge Assembly has a rich history of hosting a yearly CLC, and we are pleased to report that our “tribe” has been increasing. Representatives from 12 different YMCA associations are coming together to plan a CLC of excellence in 2017. Thanks in part to generous contributions to the Annual Campaign, no staff member or volunteer is ever turned away simply because of ability to pay. We hope to reach a big goal of 200 attendees in 2017!
“Not only did I gain knowledge, I gained inspiration.” – CLC participant
Our staff is our family. They come from many different backgrounds and offer a variety of gifts and talents. Each summer nearly 100 college-age young adults join us on the Mountain for 8 life-changing weeks. This year we welcomed staff from 10 different countries and 17 different states. We are able to impact thousands of lives each summer, so we rely on the hard work of these service-minded leaders to help us enrich the experience of our guests.
In return, we want the staff to have a meaningful experience while they are with us. We offer leadership programs, cultural exchange and learning opportunities, and discounted scenic trips throughout the Southeast. Many of these programs would not be possible without support from the Annual Campaign.
Here is how our staff have described their experience:
“Without Blue Ridge I wouldn’t have been able to continue my education the way I wanted.”
“My job is teaching me that the most valuable experiences aren’t bought; they catch you off guard; they sweep you off your feet.”
"Blue Ridge has molded my character professionally, personally and spiritually and has allowed me to be the man I am today. I have gained exposure to new ideas, real world experience, cultural understanding, civic engagement, ethical training, preparation for academic success and lifelong friendships."
Our vision is to create a world where young people have the emotional intelligence, courage, and compassion to be positive multicultural leaders in their communities. Through outdoor adventures and wilderness experiences, the BOLD & GOLD program develops courage and leadership skills in diverse groups of boys and girls ages 11-18 years old. To increase access to the outdoors and create a more meaningful experience, we provide scholarships that allow each trip to represent campers from all socio-economic backgrounds. We are able to sustain these hallmarks of BOLD & GOLD thanks to generous donations to the Annual Campaign.
Here’s how past participants have reflected on the impact of their experience:
“I learned a lot from this program while having lots of fun, making new friends and being a leader.”
“On this trip I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I can backpack 12 miles. I learned that I can survive in the wilderness. I did things that I never thought I could have done. I now feel like I have accomplished something.”
“This program has taught me important life skills such as being a leader and a friend.”