The Young Men’s Christian Association of Charlotte is celebrating a special day on August 22, 2015, Camp Thunderbird is celebrating 80 years of camp magic. Special activities are planned including swimming, boating, a zip line, master plan presentation, banquet dinner, a campfire and smores. Camp Thunderbird is one of two camps owned by the Charlotte YMCA; the other is Camp Harrison located in the North Carolina mountains at Herring RIdge.
Camp Thunderbird is a coed residential camp located on Lake Wylie where kids have the chance to thrive, learn and lead. Residential day camps offer plenty of time to soak up the sun and to swim along the 1.7 miles of lakefront property. Traditions and adventures inspire campers to grow mentally, physically, spiritually and socially — molding their value and skills sets, helping shape their paths in life.
Camp Thunderbird is part of the Charlotte Metro YMCA, a group of 20 affiliated branches in the Charlotte region from covering Charlotte and also in Matthews to Mooresville to Lincolnton. To many the YMCA is a gym, but the mission of the YMCA is much more. Their mission statement reads: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Their purpose is to connect and engage people to enhance lives and build community.
The YMCA: Young Men’s Christian Organization is part of a national movement founded in London, England in 1844 by 22 year old George Williams, a farmer-turned-department store worker for the purpose of helping young men find a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets. Today, the Y engages more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the U.S. As the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to helping people and communities to learn, grow and thrive.
Thomas Valentine Sullivan started the first YMCA in the United States started in Boston at the Old South Church on December 29, 1851. Mr. Sullivan, who worked as a marine missionary saw profound needs among sailors and merchants and desired to create a safe haven for them. After some research he heard stories about the YMCA in England and was inspired to found a similar organization at the seaport of Boston. Since 18551 YMCA branches have expanded and there is a presence in almost every city in the United States.
The first YMCA in North Carolina was formed in Wilmington in 1857 solely for the spiritual improvement of young men. The Charlotte YMCA was founded within the year followed by associations in Raleigh, Salisbury, Washington and on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill founded before the Civil War. John Henry Wyat was the first Corresponding Secretary. This work was put on hold during the time of the war, but restarted by 1876. The current President and Chief Executive Officer is Andy Calhoun.
The YMCA in Charlotte and in North Carolina seeks to promote every part of its name. Not only is this organization a place for recreation and classes, but many YMCA’s have active Christian Emphasis Committees, seeking to bring faith to their community. Every branch has incorporated a chapel into their building. The “C” is part of every YMCA in the region as they seek to bring faith to life.