Netherlands – National Council of YMCAs
Date of foundation of the YMCA: 1853
Membership Status: Full
Full member of the World Alliance of YMCAs since: 1855
Brief YMCA History
The Dutch YMCA is one of the founding members of the World Alliance. The oldest local association dates from 1851. The national movement has been founded on 23 October 1853. After ten years there were 35 local branches (clubs), in 1888 this number had risen to150, and in 1928 already 700 clubs had been established. From the beginning in the Netherlands there are two main streams of YMCA’s.
The European continental style, mostly happening in one of the buildings of a local Protestant church: Biblical education, intellectual training and study of the society are the main components of their programs. Being a country of international trading the British influence (style) has been big as well.
The local associations raised their own buildings hosting a wide variety of activities. Local clubs then have libraries, brass bands, sports like football, volleyball and table tennis.
Dutch board members have been very active in international meetings. As soon as they heard of new methods or games to reach youngsters, they founded a committee to initiate a new branch of YMCA. Committees steered Studying Literature, a Publishing House, Fighting against over consumption of alcohol, Sunday schools, Mission, Young boys activities.
Many of those initiatives lost relation with the YMCA over the years. Being busy with their own specific activities took too much time. Football clubs attracted youngsters who were sometimes not very much interested in other matters. After decades many clubs did specialise and continued independently.
From 1857 until today the YMCA has been publishing a national magazine, nowadays it is called Inklusief.
In 1911 the Dutch YMCA organised their first summer camp. In 1926 it raised the national congress centre the ‘Ernst Sillem Hoeve’. Some years later the camp sites in Leusden and Hulshorst were opened. Nowadays the YMCA of the Netherlands organises all sorts of camps both in the Netherlands as well as abroad, making it one of their core activities which it offer a great time to youngsters from 6 until 25 years.
The YMCA of the Netherlands is a socially committed, independent, ecumenical volunteer organization aimed at youth work inspired by biblical values, which works with, by and for young people;
The Dutch YMCA’s primary goal is to stimulate young people in carrying responsibilities, to learn them to deal with existential questions and to grow conscience about them being part of a global community;
The YMCA of the Netherlands is part of, and wants to be an active member of, a global ecumenical volunteer YMCA-movement as it presents itself in the World Alliance of YMCA’s and the European Alliance of YMCA’s;
The core of the YMCA-mission is youth work, that is: to look after the interests of youngsters directly or indirectly and to teach them to carry responsibilities within society.
A. Support of youth work in cities as well as the countryside:
The establishment and maintenance of youth work (clubs) through advice and support structures in the various districts of the Netherlands, by organizing meetings for volunteers, the design of new materials for youth work and the publishing of the magazine ‘KOMBY’ for youth workers.
B. Training programmes:
Training for new club leaders, training for youth work managers, training for reflection in youth work, weekends for club leaders
C. National and regional meetings:
National meetings, volleyball tournaments, teenage and youth meetings.
D. Partnerships with YMCA’s from other countries
Camps & Travels
In 1911 the first youngsters went on a YMCA camp and now 90 years later there is an extensive supply in camps and travels for youngsters of 6 until 25 years.
All camps and travels have been developed by volunteers who lead them during the summer. Over 600 volunteers are active as a camp leader with the YMCA. These are people who are especially trained for these camps and travels.
The YMCA camps and travel have no commercial objective and guarantee good quality and service. YMCA tries to keep these camps and travels accessible to all people by keeping the participation fee as low as possible. If however the costs are an obstacle for participation there is a possibility to receive aid from the YMCA vacation fund.
YMCA outdoor is a versatile part of the YMCA organization which is specialized in adventurous outdoor programmes and trainings for all ages. YMCA outdoor organize activities and trips for youth clubs, schools, companies and other social groups.
Training & Consultancy
YMCA training & consultancy is a relatively new branch of the Dutch YMCA. It seeks to promote the ‘YMCA-approach’ to professionals and volunteers who work with youth or adults.
The YMCA of the Netherlands owns and runs accommodations which can be used for various purposes; multifunctional centres, but also camp sites and a conference centre. These are not only to be used by YMCA groups but by all those interested to stay there.