„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


25th January 2018

9-12 January 2018 at YMCA Storer Camps USA

Between 7-14 January 2018, Alina Pop, National General Secretary of YMCA Romania Federation, was invited by YMCA of USA and the Planning Committee to attend the YMCA Mid America Camping Conference that took place at YMCA Storer Camps, Jackson, Michigan. This opportunity came in the context of the new Programme group in YMCA Europe - YMCA Camps that will coordinate the work regarding establishing common camp standards in European YMCA camps, in partnership with YMCA of USA. These efforts and common vision is very important for building the world coalition. To support the above vision, The Planning Committee of YMCA Mid America Camp Conference and YMCA of USA decided to invite 2 international persons to the event: Alina Pop, National General Secretary of YMCA Romania Federation and Marcio Nery - Executive director of a branch of YMCA Sao Paolo, Brasil.

This year`s Conference theme was "Choose your own adventure: Personal and Professional Progress for All", with the mission to strengthen the foundation of the YMCA Camp Movement by educating, connecting and motivating camp professionals.

The program was an intense one, with inspirational speakers as Bela Mote from YMCA of USA - V.P. Evidence-Based Youth Interventions/National Director of Character Development, Scott Arizala - Camp counselor and Camp trainer - www.CampCounselor.com, Connecticut Camp Guys (www.ultimatecampresouce.com), John Duntley - YMCA of USA Camp specialist. The parallel workshops offered each day were extremely relevant in the context of the Camp programs- focused on programming, innovation, executive skills, behavior, organizational development- fit to all participants present at the conference: creating a culture of excellence, how to tell better stories: marketing, content & metrics based on first principle insights, restorative justice: a better approach to behavioral management, redesigning outdoor education curriculum to meet the next generation science standards, character development- is it a core component of your program , character development learning institute: Building on our core values, outcomes with impact: the benefits of SEL (social-emotional learning), empowering teens to STAND up for what they believe in, leave no trace: it is not just for overnights and trips, telling your story: unforgettable first impressions, make more magic - 50 outrageous ideas on budget, what I wish I knew- becoming an executive director, neurodiversity and the hidden curriculum, awesome advantages to day camp marketing, an attitude of gratitude: simple positive psychology strategies to improve your workplace and impact youth, top 5 skills and attribute of great camp leaders, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and your camp, Facebook live-SoundCloud-drones, challenge course inspection: what you need to know, staff culture changers: from bad to good, design thinking at camp, trauma informed care, being a professional: resume building and interviewing, 5 tech tools for non-tech camps, navigating a trip program start-up, summer partner camps: don`t be scared, stepping together in the right direction: better serving special needs, training your staff to rock at youth work, intentional global engagements, balancing life at work and home, mindfulness: the practical relevance to your vocation, build alumni relationships you can be proud of, kids need structure not control: building the sand box at camp, kids-teens and sex today- what you need to know as a camp professional. It was an excellent platform to learn, connect, share, get inspired.

At Conference: YMCA Storer Camps( Michigan) : Bernard Roca, Branch Executive Director Camp Echo-McGaw YMCA, Adriana Stanovici , Manager Global Advancement International Group Y USA) and Alina Pop, NGS YMCA Romania Federation

At the end of the Conference, the Planning Committee of the YMCA Mid America Camp Conference decided to invite each year international people from camp area in order to exchange good practices, learn and network.

Before the Conference, Alina and Marcio, together with Adriana Stanovici - Manager, Global Advancement, International Group YMCA of USA - visited Sherman Lake YMCA, Michigan (CEO Zach Zilpsch) learning about their facilities, camp programs, about Integrated Education Program developed in schools, about how they live and teach HCCR (honesty, care, respect, responsibility) to children and teens, developing premises for international cooperation/partnership.

After the Conference, Alina and Marcio were warmly welcomed at YMCA of USA in Chicago, having meetings with the International Grup team lead by V.P. Tom Valentine, and sessions about branding and communication (with Jesse Allerton -Senior Communication Manager, Social Responsiblity , Marketing Communication) , youth development and mentoring (with Erin Reuland - Manager of Administration Youth Development) and healthy living national frame program (with Marc Rosen - Technical Advisor, Clinical Integration). Again, during these meetings we shared informations about why and what we are doing in our countries, the specialists from YMCA of USA offering an integrated vision and best practices about different national framework.

At YMCA of USA : meeting with International Group team lead by VP Tom Valentine, Renata Ferarri, Sr. Director of Global Advancement International Group, Marcio Nery, executive director of a branch Sao Paolo(Brasil), Alina Pop, NGS YMCA Romania Federation

YMCA of USA is very much engaged in creating a Global Coalition for camps, believing in the transformational power of this program. They are committed to support YMCA Europe in establishing common standards and increase our capacity as organizations through this program, in order to empower young people and strengthen our communities. These exchanges and support will continue from both sides- European and American - for the growth and relevance of our global organization.

YMCA of USA happily embarked to work with YMCA Europe in the journey of Planning #YMCA175 event in London 2019, celebrating 175 of YMCA, a global youth - led event that will be a milestone in the history of YMCA.

McGaw YMCA (Evanston, Illinois): Kattie Trippi, Alumni & Development Director Camp Echo, Marcio Nery, executive director of a branch Sao Paolo(Brasil), Alina Pop, NGS YMCA Romania Federation

The tour ended with a visit at McGaw YMCA in Evanston,Illinois, learning about different programs with an emphasis on Camp program development, staff management, policies, the host being Kattie Trippi - Alumni & Development Director Camp Echo.

It was an excellent opportunity to learn and explore our potential - to reflect on own personal development goals and organization`s strategy, to move together and grow. Listening stories of impact, making note of the research that supports youth work, asking questions, learning about innovative approaches - everything was created in order to support the potential of Camp. The Conference brought inspiration - challenged to think differently, motivated to explore new opportunities and celebrated together the ability of camp to inspire positive change in our world. Looking forward to implement and develop continuously the YMCA Camps in Europe and throughout the world. I want to thank and send my huge appreciation to entire team of YMCA of the USA, to the Planning Committee of YMCA Mid America Camp Conference, YMCA Storer Camps team, YMCA Sherman Lake team, McGaw YMCA-Camp Echo team for this amazing learning opportunity, friendship, support, partnership building and inspiration and to recognize their hard and relevant work in changing lives across the youth development continuum." - Alina Pop, NGS YMCA Romania Federation.

Author/Source: Alina Pop, YMCA Romania