How the YMCA Helped Shape America

4 June 2015

The YMCA was founded in London in 1844. Since that time it has transformed itself in many ways, responding to the needs of changing communities over the years. The Y continues to make an impact on our society and continues to grow in it's scope. Recently, published a historical account of how the YMCA has contributed to building the fabric of American culture. Here are some of the highlights of the Y's accomplishments noted in the article:

  • The Y invented Basketball in 1891. James Naismith dreamed up this game using a soccer ball and two peach baskets.
  • The  Y offered the first group swimming lessons in 1909. George Corsan was a pioneer in this effort, reportedly teaching 800 kids to swim in a four-week course. 
  • In 1881, a YMCA staff member at the Boston YMCA coined the term, "bodybuilding" and organized exercise routines that eventually became what we now know as fitness classes or group exercise classes. 
  • The YMCA runs the oldest summer camp still in operation (since 1885). 

Click here to read the full article and see photos from our history on