Five Ways to Celebrate Summer Learning with the Y!

With the recent celebration of National Summer Learning Week, our YMCA is excited to share five ways you can keep your family learning all summer long! 

  1. Fostering Friendships
    The pandemic’s impact on youth has been startling, and the U.S. Surgeon General has raised a flag on young people’s mental health. The science of learning and development tells us that relationships are key for addressing trauma and helping kids thrive. Forging and fostering friendships over the summer can lead to limitless opportunities and cherished memories for young people.
  2. Love of Literacy & Learning
    Reading is fun! It’s also critical to a child’s success in school, and in life. Empower children to immerse themselves in a literary adventure. It can take place anywhere, under a tree, in a makeshift tent or in a child’s favorite nook. Let imaginations run wild with amazing stories this summer.
  3. Wonders of Wellness
    Healthy bodies and healthy minds go hand-in-hand when it comes to learning. Summer is the perfect time to get children on their feet, moving and eating healthy. Studies have found that elements of wellness, such as hope and gratitude, improve academic performance!
  4. Summer Skill-Building
    Ready, Set, Succeed! Support a student in charting their course for success during and beyond high school. A summer job, internship, mentorship or plan to pursue higher education, sets our future leaders on a path to change the world.
  5. Amazing Arts
    Research confirms that the arts prepare students for school, life, and the workplace. With the right plan, summer can be the perfect canvas for creativity and self-expression through music, literature, dance, theater, visual arts and more. Spark the imagination this summer to unlock the power of amazing arts.

Strengthening Communities for 179 Years

This month, we think back on our beginnings as an international organization – On June 6th, 1844, the YMCA was founded by George Williams and 11 other young men, who held a meeting in London that would lead to the founding of the YMCA. For 179 years, the Y has worked to strengthen communities –creating the first group swim classes, spearheading the first English as a Second Language (ESL) class and addressing chronic disease through programs like the Y’s Diabetes Prevention Program.

You might enjoy watching a brief, three-part video series on our history. These videos were produced a couple years ago by Dr. David Newman, a pastor of a church that meets in a Y in Ohio and who loves the YMCA and its history.

The Reason Why Part 1

The Reason Why Part 2

The Reason Why Part 3 

YMCA Sends Missions Team to Mexico for 5th Service Trip

Pictured from right to left, in front row: “in selfie” Bruce Osborn (Director of Spiritual Development), then Dave Wasserman, Brandon Davis (EV Short Term Missions Director), Azumi (EV Teen), Savannah Wasserman, Stacie Gorecki. Back row: Jasmine Martinez, Jaime Wasserman, Kim Osborn, Eden Wasserman, Kim Holt.

In February 2023, the Glacial Community YMCA sent a team of nine people to Puebla, Mexico, as part of a mission trip partnering with the orphanage, Esperanza Viva. This was the YMCA’s fifth team to go and serve in this capacity, an outreach and service trip that first began in 2018.

Esperanza Viva, a ministry of Living Hope International, is an orphanage/youth home in Puebla, Mexico that currently provides shelter, family, healing, and hope to approximately 100 children living there.

The Y team’s week consisted of morning service projects around the campus, meals, crafts and recreation with the children, cultural activities as a team, learning more about the ministry of Living Hope International, and relationship building with both children and staff. Trips usually last 8-10 days and include some sightseeing time as well.

In 2020, the YMCA commissioned then-employee, Karlee Webb, as a full-time missionary from their staff to go and serve in the ministry of Living Hope, residing in Puebla at Esperanza Viva. The YMCA at Pabst Farms is proud to be among a select few YMCAs that have commissioned, sent, and helped support a missionary to serve full-time in this modern era.

“The Y has continued to send teams to serve, love, and build relationships within the ministry of Living Hope and Esperanza Viva, because these experiences are life-changing. The children love interacting with teams, and our volunteers are deeply impacted by that love as they serve and care,” said Bruce Osborn, Director of Spiritual Development for the YMCA.

The YMCA offers missionary opportunities multiple times a year, to both members and community participants, as well as their staff members, with trips seen as unique opportunities in leadership development.

The YMCA also partners with the Y-USA and other YMCAs around the country to help support the mission of the Y in Valparaiso, Chile. Past trips to Chile have included service projects, community outreach, teaching seminars, program development and support of their George Williams School.

Osborn adds, “The days are long for our team members during the week, but the work is rewarding. It is a recipe for a radical shift in the priorities of life, and one that I wish everyone could experience.” To learn more about the YMCA’s mission and service work, please visit

Y Group Does Part During Hunger Action Month

Y’s Service Without Boundaries group helps pack food kits for local community.

September is Hunger Action Month. The Y believes all kids deserve the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive — and access to healthy meals is critical to making that possible. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 21 million kids receive free or reduced-cost meals, but only 3.2 million continue to receive meals through the summer. 

Kids and teens benefit from the Y’s Year-Round Food Program at thousands of sites across the country, where they receive nutritious meals and snacks, plus enjoy recreational and educational activities to keep their bodies and minds active.

For many years, participants in the Y’s Service Without Boundaries program have embedded themselves in the community by helping area organizations and giving back. Service Without Boundaries (SWB) is a day program that supports adults with disabilities through weekly activities at the Y and in the community, including regular visits to the Oconomowoc Library to dust shelves and work on special projects, sorting donated food at the Oconomowoc Food Pantry, and a multitude of other projects/activities in collaboration with Zachariah’s Acres.

In 2021, a new opportunity to serve developed from an ongoing partnership with the Watertown Unified School District, along with a generous food grant from the Quirk Foundation. Funds received from the grant made it possible to provide weekend food bags to all Y campers as well as families in need in the Watertown community.

Each week throughout the summer, the SWB group would organize and pack nutritious, easy to prepare weekend meals, including fresh fruit and vegetables, into take home bags and deliver them to the Watertown Area YMCA Camp. The take-home food bags were distributed to camp families on Friday afternoons, and extra food bags were available for pick up at the Watertown Area YMCA for those in need in the community. The weekend food bag program was designed to bridge the gap between the meals provided by the school district during the week. It’s estimated that 715 weekend food packs were provided during the summer of 2021 to families in the Watertown area and was so successful that it was continued in summer of 2022.

Service Without Boundaries, along with other offerings in our special programs line up, also have a broader impact on the families of participants by providing much needed respite time for caregivers so they have the ability to work and care for themselves and other family members, all while their loved one is cared for by Y staff. In 2021 alone, 28,512 hours of respite time was provided while program participants gained independence, made friends, and made a difference in the community.