Harrisburg Area YMCA History


The Harrisburg Area YMCA was founded in 1854 by prominent businessmen looking for ways to keep young men off of the streets and out of trouble. The objective was to improve the “spiritual and social conditions of young men.” Over the next century and a half, the Association not only survived and grew but remained true to the spirit of its original mission as it provided help for the city’s needy, relief aid for local soldiers during times of war, and guidance for the young men and women of Harrisburg to grow and mature.

We are still fulfilling that mission today by granting over $500,000 worth of scholarships to families in the Harrisburg area. The Harrisburg Area YMCA still offers quality child care, swimming lessons, the Teen Achievers Club, health and fitness classes and wellness areas, summer camps for all ages, along with a wide variety of other activities that appeal to all ages. Our Active Older Adults take trips together, sponsor an Ethnic Diversity Luncheon, and strive to maintain healthy lifestyles through activities at the YMCA. Our child care program is the one of the largest providers in the Harrisburg area, serving children from Northern Dauphin to the Camp Curtin Area, Downtown and before and after-school care on the East and West Shores. Our swim lesson program celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006 – and the Y is still the largest organization offering swimming lessons to the members of our community.

The East Shore YMCA was built in 1932, with its unique Italian Romanesque architecture. To date, additions and improvements have increased the downtown Y significantly.  A new  Computer Learning Center and Wellness Center have all been added. Camp Curtin, in Uptown Harrisburg, opened the doors of a new facility in 1966. With the completion of a new Youth & Teen Center, upgraded Computer Learning Center, new Wellness Center and renovated Lobby, the Camp Curtin Branch is a vital part of our community. The West Shore Branch was founded in 1952, with the construction of our existing building competed in 1972. Renovations and additions to the Y on the west shore have increased the Wellness Center by 5,000 square feet, as well as an addition on the front of the facility which will house a new Pre-school/Kindergarten room, a Child Watch Center, and an Active Older Adults Center. Also exciting for families, the Indoor, Interactive Waterpark housed in the back of the building along Route 581. The Northern Dauphin County Branch, while established in 1985, was built in 1994. A new free standing Teen Center was opened in 2005 and has been instrumental in allowing the Y to expand their Teen Outreach.