Recently the YMCA in the United States celebrated its 173rd Anniversary. Today, the Y engages more than 10,000 neighborhoods across the U.S. We are a leading nonprofit committed to helping people and communities to learn, grow and thrive.

Here’s a glance at our rich history:

In 1844, George Williams launched the YMCA movement in London.

Welcoming newcomers and immigrants has always been part of YMCA work. In 1856, the nation’s first-known English as a Second Language (ESL) class was held for German immigrants.

Camping became a cornerstone of YMCA programming in 1885 when the YMCA started Camp Dudley, America’s first known summer camp program, at Orange Lake, New York.

In December 1891, James Naismith invented an indoor winter game. Naismith hung peach baskets to the bottom of a second-level running track and taught the men his new game, basketball.

Throughout World War I, the YMCA provided morale and welfare services for the military. By the end of the war, the YMCA, through the United War Work Council, had operated 1,500 canteens in the U.S. and France; set up 4,000 YMCA huts for recreation and religious services.

In 1926, YMCAs made a commitment to families when the parent-child program Y-Indian Guides began at the St. Louis YMCA. Started by Harold J. Keltner and Joe Friday, a member of the Ojibway tribe.

During World War II the YMCA, along with five other national voluntary organizations, founded the United Service Organizations for National Defense, today known as the USO.

In 1950, YMCA volunteer Joe Sobek invented Racquetball in Greenwich, Connecticut, as an alternative to squash and hand ball.

Then in 1994, celebrating a rich history in character development, the YMCA Movement defined character as the demonstration of four core values: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.

YMCA of the USA makes a commitment in 2011 to the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) to help end the childhood obesity epidemic.

By nurturing the potential of every child and teen, improving the health and well-being of members, and supporting and serving our neighbors, the Naperville Y ensures that everyone has the opportunity to become healthier, more confident, connected and secure. To get involved visit us at