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Bereaved Sibling Finds Second Home at Camp No Worries

“Camp No Worries is my second family and the people there are incredible. There is just one thing that is not right and that is that Tommy is not at camp. I think he would have really liked it. Camp is really the one and only good thing that has come out of this whole experience.” 

I wrote this about 12 years ago. As a pre-teen, I was not only dealing with the typical obstacles that come along with entering middle school, I was also grieving the death of my older brother, Tommy.


Mentorship Program Impacts Local Communities

Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending the US Soccer’s Soccer for Success National Training in Washington D.C. Six of the YMCA’s amazing coaches were selected to attend this training as they demonstrated hard work and dedication throughout the 2016-2017 Soccer for Success® season. The 4-day training event is hosted annually by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, who partners with the YMCA of Burlington and Camden Counties, along with Campbell’s Soup Foundation and The United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

Together we strive to implement Soccer for Success in the under served communities of Camden to ensure children are given the opportunity to engage in safe and fun activities.  

The National Training event brought together more than 100 community leaders from all across the country in the effort to become Soccer for Success trainers in their local neighborhoods and empowered the coach-mentors with the tools to be positive role models in their communities. During our experiences there, the coach-mentors and myself participated in hands-on sessions and workshops that focused on physical activity, nutrition education and curriculum implementation. Upon completion of the training, our team graduated to become certified US Soccer Foundation Soccer for Success trainers that are now equipped to lead other coach-mentors in our local community.

My favorite aspect of Soccer for Success, that truly makes it superior to other youth sports programs I have experienced, is that the coaches are not only coaches but mentors as well. They are compassionate and caring and love what they do for their communities. They introduce kids to the fundamentals of soccer, but also guide the children in setting and achieving personal goals. They encourage teamwork that demonstrates the Y core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. With new requirements from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquent Prevention, a supporter of the U.S. Soccer Foundation and an additional funder, the mentorship component of the Soccer for Success program will become a top priority because of the many important and positive impacts that it can have on a child’s life. Our player to coach-mentor ratio will be moving from 15:1 to 7:1, allowing the players to have the opportunity to develop more on-going and effective relationships with their coach-mentors. 

I am grateful for the experience I had with my staff at the 2017 Soccer for Success National Training. Our coach-mentors, now trainers, were all well-deserving of this unforgettable opportunity. I have learned so many important things during our training and I will forever carry it with me. To have the chance to watch them showcase their strengths, challenge themselves and step outside their comfort zones for the greater good of this program was truly inspiring. I cannot wait to see what they will bring back to our Strategic Advancement team! 


YBCC Phoenix Breaststroker Eliza Pluckhorn Commits to Ramapo College

Dedicated Swimmer Achieves Goal

“The Phoenix swim team is a great group of kids and the coaches, especially coach Chris, are always there to support you”

For Eliza, swimming runs in the family. Her older sister Rebecca and older brother Eric both swam in high school. Eliza has been swimming at the Y since she was 9 and has been a member of the Y’s Phoenix swim team for two years.

“I realized that swimming was my favorite sport in seventh grade and I decided to stop all other sports in order to focus on swimming,” said Eliza. “Since my freshman year in high school, I have had the goal of swimming in college.”

Eliza swam for the Moorestown High School swim team for all four years, and she holds a relay record in the 200 medley. She served as swim team captain during her senior year.


YBCC Phoenix Freestyler Kevin Gillooly Commits to Rowan University

Swimmer Overcomes Injuries

“It really helped that Coach Chris was always there for me. With his support I was able to drop time when I got back into the water”

Kevin first started swimming when he was about 4-years-old, and in eighth grade he started to swim with the Y year-round. He played other sports but when it came time to pick what sport he wanted to focus on in high school there was only one answer – swimming.

At Cherry Hill East High School, Kevin swam for all four years and holds the school record in the 50 Free. He also served as team captain this past year.


YBCC Phoenix Swimmer Patricia Thomas Commits to The College of New Jersey

Swimmer Receives Exciting Opportunity in College

“My teammates were always very supportive of me and made me enjoy swimming even more”

Patricia started swimming at 9-years-old, when her mom signed her up at a swim club close to her home. She has been hooked ever since, swimming both backstroke and freestyle.

“I knew that I wanted to swim in college when I was a freshman in high school,” said Patricia. “For me it was also about finding a school that had biomedical engineering—the major I want to pursue.”


YBCC Phoenix Backstroker Liam Pauli Commits to Dickinson College

Hard Work Pays Off For Life Long Swimmer

“Coach Chris is the best coach I’ve had in terms of working with each individual swimmer”

Liam has been swimming since he was six-months old, when his parents brought him to the Y for classes. He started competitively swimming at the Y at age 7 and has continued all the way through his senior year of high school, while also swimming for the Delran High School swim team.


Five Historical Reasons the Y Makes For a Better Us

On June 6 the YMCA marks more than 170 years as more than a place, it is a movement that offers programs and services designed to foster youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Here are five past notable events and achievements that demonstrate the Y’s commitment to the communities it serves:

  1. American Institutions: Celebrations such as Father’s Day, and organizations like the Peace Corps, all have their roots at the YMCA.
  2. Camping Under the Stars: The oldest known summer camp, Camp Dudley, first opened in 1855 and countless numbers of boys and girls have since learned the skills and wonders of camping through the Y, developing critical skills and making memories along the way.
  3. Inventing New Ways to Play: From James Naismith’s invention of basketball to instructors creating racquetball and what would eventually become volleyball, the Y has a rich tradition in activities that are played by millions of people around the globe. One Y staffer, Robert J. Roberts, is even credited with inventing the term “body building.”
  4. Nobel Laureate: YMCA leader John R. Mott was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 for the Y’s groundbreaking role in raising global awareness and support and for the organization’s humanitarian efforts.
  5. Furthering Education: The Y is credited with spearheading the first public libraries, night school for adult education and English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.

How the Y is relevant in 2017

Today, the Y serves more than 22 million people annually and offers resources at over 2,700 locations across all 50 states. Here are three ways “community” continues as the Y’s number one cause:

  1. Nurturing the Potential of Our Kids: When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Nationwide, the Y helps over nine million youth to close gaps in hunger, health, learning, water safety and safe spaces while providing a place to stay healthy, build friendships, and achieve more – all while having fun! Each program demonstrates the Y’s unwavering commitment to ensuring children are on track for a successful education, especially those in underserved communities.
  2. Improving the Nation’s Health: More than a place to work out, the Y offers programs that help individuals and families improve their health and enact changes that strengthen their community and society as a whole. From working with people who are trying to find ways to improve health, but don’t know how, to preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and helping people recover from serious illnesses like cancer, the Y is one of the few organizations in the country with the size and influence that can effectively reach millions of people. Ys are also active in the community, creating communal gardens, increasing access to farmers markets and ensuring children have a safe route to school.
  3. Support For All Our Neighbors: As one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, the Y’s social services and volunteer programs help more than 10,000 communities nationwide. From helping newcomers and immigrants adjust to new communities to member-led community service projects through the Togetherhood program, every effort helps to make a difference.

For more information on Y programs please visit:

YBCC Phoenix Breaststroker Noah Shepard Commits to Rowan University

Swimmer Carries on Family Tradition

“Coach Chris taught me to be responsible and accountable for my training. He is always there to help me improve my stroke and grow both as an individual and a swimmer.”

For Noah, swimming has always been a family affair. His mom and his older brother Jon, who swam at Frostburg State University for three years and Rowan for one, are avid swimmers. Noah was enrolled in swim classes at age 4 by his mom and has been swimming with the Y’s Phoenix swim team for six years.

“I did not like swimming at first and I didn’t even want to get into the pool,” said Noah. “My mom really encouraged me to stick with it and making friends helped me enjoy the sport more.”

Since his freshman year at Cherry Hill High School East, Noah knew that he wanted to swim in college, but academics also played an important role in his decision on where to go.

“Rowan was the perfect fit for me because they are a very solid school academically and they have an up-and-coming and competitive swim program,” said Noah. “The swim coaches and team were very welcoming and it felt like its own little community. I know the team will push me both in and out of the water.”


Families Enjoy Y’s Soccer for Success Spring Event Thanks to Community Partners

The sun was out, the weather was perfect, and the Y’s Soccer for Success® players were ready for a fun day of games, activities, and competition with their friends and family on the football field at Camden High School last Sunday. As the season wraps up for Soccer for Success in Camden, the Y’s Community Youth Programs department held its semi-annual end of season event last weekend for all its players involved in the spring season in Camden.

Players from eight different schools participated in scrimmages, family relay races, and shoot out challenges. They even played games against their own coaches. It was truly a sight to see as these young, determined, newly developed soccer players from all across the city coming together and engaging each other through the game of soccer.

Soccer for Success in the City of Camden is funded by the U.S. Soccer Foundation, Campbell Soup Company and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. This year our partners from Campbell’s Healthy CommunitiesFood Bank of South Jersey, The Food Trust and Food Corps, were able to provide extra activities not only for our soccer players but parents and siblings as well. One of the most popular activities offered was making smoothies on The Food Trust’s Smoothie Bike.


YBCC Phoenix Breaststroker Nicolas Montesanti Commits to The College of New Jersey

Multi-Sport Athlete Focuses on Swimming

“There are so many fast kids in my age group and we all worked hard and pushed each other during practice. I am hoping to take that work ethic to college along with everything Coach Chris taught me about how to carry myself.”

Nic first started swimming when he was about 5 years old, at the recommendation of his family doctor who thought swimming would help strengthen his lungs.

Growing up Nic was a multi-sport athlete, participating in baseball, golf, basketball and swimming. He swam for Cherokee High School all four years and accumulated three relay records: the 200 Free, 400 Free and 200 medley. He says he did not know that he really wanted to swim in college until he began to swim for the Y’s Phoenix swim team about a year ago.



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