Our History


In 1892 a group of twelve citizens founded the Quincy YMCA to improve the lives of people in our community. After two temporary locations, a building at 61 Washington Street in Quincy was dedicated. This building was referred to as Adams Academy and offered community programs such as vocational training, bowling, exercise sessions, prayer meetings, and guidance to men and women who were away from home. It housed the YMCA for the next 51 years, and had the only indoor pool in the area.

In 1928 the YMCA founded Camp Burgess for Boys on Cape Cod, beginning a strong camping tradition that has touched the lives of generations of families.

With increased services to the community such as job training, English classes, and teen programs, the Quincy YMCA outgrew its facility. Three fundraising campaigns were organized over the years; and in 1955 a new building opened at 79 Coddington Street in Quincy. This building also served as a community residence for adults with low income.

In 1960 Camp Hayward for Girls was established across the lake from Camp Burgess in Sandwich.

From 1961-1965, the Quincy YMCA was privileged to have Dr. Emma Tousant as the first female Board Chair to serve in any YMCA in the United States.

In 1976 a Women’s Fitness Salon addition was completed to accommodate the growing needs of our female members. In 1978 a new physical fitness wing was added, including an indoor running track, three handball/racquetball courts, a weight room and exercise area.

The Quincy YMCA merged with the Weymouth YMCA in 1981, and the South Shore YMCA was born. A new Community Services Division was formed, which provided services to Weymouth, Hingham, Milton, Hull, Scituate, Norwell and Braintree. Swimming, day camps, after-school and youth sports programs were operated out of churches, schools, and other community locations.

In 1984 part of the Physical Fitness wing was converted to a 21-station Nautilus Fitness Center. Another area was converted to a children’s daycare center.

The South Shore YMCA purchased the grounds of the former Hanover Tennis Club in 1994 where we operated a Family Outdoor Center on this site, as well as Camp Gordon Clark, one of our summer day camps.

In 1996 a new pool, locker room facilities and outdoor fields with a running track were added to our Quincy branch as part of a $2.5 million Capital Campaign.

The Community Services Division merged with the Quincy Division in 1997 to form the Quincy YMCA branch, which provides programs to Quincy residents as well as all other towns in our service area, including Braintree, Hingham, Hull, Scituate, Cohasset, Milton, Weymouth, Randolph, Norwell, Hanover, and Quincy.

The Mill Pond Tennis Club in Hanover was purchased in 1998 and converted into our Mill Pond YMCA branch. In 2002, an indoor aquatic center including a lap pool and a family fun pool with a slide were added to the facilities. Other new services included a child care center, new locker rooms for all ages, family locker rooms, whirlpool and sauna, additional clay indoor/outdoor tennis courts, a teen center, community meeting rooms and more.

The branch was officially renamed “The Emilson YMCA” at a ceremony in February 2013 to honor the Emilson family. Laura’s Center for the Arts was dedicated to their late daughter, Laura Emilson-Riekert.

In 2003, the new Resident Camp dining hall was completed. Fully winterized, this beautiful facility accommodates up to 300 people at a time and is twice as large as the previous structure, which was built in 1928. Two large meeting rooms attract year-round groups.

The year 2007 introduced the new Tousant Hall in honor of Dr. Emma Tousant at Camp Hayward for girls. Here campers connect to make new friends, try new activities, create a play, and re-tell the day’s events.

In September of 2011, the South Shore YMCA merged with South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell. The Center is now a full-fledged branch of our ever-expanding YMCA. The Center, which has been in operation for fifty years, has a mission of providing environmental education and fostering an appreciation of the natural world. The branch includes a day camp, pre-school, an eco-zone exhibit, and acres of unspoiled walking trails.

In December 2011, the new South Shore YMCA Early Learning Center opened at 1075 Washington Street, Hanover. This state-of-the-art childcare center allows us to expand our core values to children in the South Shore area with quality early childhood educational experiences for children from 6 weeks old to 5+ years.

In December of 2013, the Y’s Quincy Branch opened a new, state-of-the-art facility on Coddington Street which was built to better serve the changing needs of Quincy and surrounding communities for generations to come.

Today, the South Shore YMCA is involving more than 60,000 members and participants, nearly two-thirds of whom are children and teens, in more than 100 different programs. Emphasizing the four core character development values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility, we are committed to strengthening our communities by nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility.