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.
On August 11, 2022, the South Shore YMCA branch in Quincy was named “the Hale Family YMCA” in honor of Robert and Karen Hale, whose historic gift will definitively shape the future of one of the nation’s largest urban YMCAs.
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.
1892 – The YMCA of Quincy is founded by community leaders believing that “at least one door should swing open continually” for the betterment of the young men of the city.
1905 – The Quincy Y moves into a permanent home on Washington Street offering many community programs such as vocational training, bowling, exercise sessions, and prayer meetings. It had the only indoor pool in the area.
1928 – Camp Burgess, an overnight camp for boys, is founded in Sandwich to provide outdoor adventures and develop leadership skills.
1955 – With increased services to the community such as job training, English classes, and teen programs, the Quincy Y outgrew its facility. Three fundraising campaigns were organized over the years and a new $1.25 million building opened at 79 Coddington Street in Quincy. This building also served as a community residence for adults with low income.
1960 – A sister overnight camp, Camp Hayward for girls is founded in Sandwich across the lake from Camp Burgess to provide opportunities for girls to develop outdoor leadership skills.
1961–1965 – Dr. Emma Tousant makes history as the first female Board Chair of any YMCA in the United States.
1976 – A Women’s Fitness Salon addition was completed to accommodate the growing needs of our female members and the national rise in physical fitness and wellness.
1978 – A new physical fitness wing was added, including an indoor running track, three handball/racquetball courts, a weight room, and an exercise area.
- 1981 – The Quincy YMCA merges with the Weymouth YMCA to create the South Shore YMCA expanding its service area.
1994 – YMCA Camp Gordon Clark and the South Shore YMCA Family Outdoor Center are founded in Hanover, establishing a YMCA day camp program and providing outdoor pools and activities for families.
1996 – A new pool, locker rooms, and outdoor fields with a running track are added to the Quincy branch as part of a $2.5 million Capital Campaign.
1998 – The South Shore Y expands its services in Hanover and surrounding communities by acquiring the Mill Pond Tennis Club, which would later become the Emilson YMCA. Mill Pond becomes one of the largest Y branches in the country.
2000 – The Germantown Neighborhood Center merges with the South Shore YMCA, bringing social services to local residents, including the South Shore YMCA’s food pantry that serves over 4,000 people a year.
2002 – The Mill Pond YMCA expansion is completed, creating a full-service Y that offers state-of-the-art programs in aquatics, fitness, tennis, teen center, gymnastics, and more.
2003 – A 10,000 square foot winterized dining hall at Camp Burgess opens, allowing the Camp to serve more campers and expand its outdoor education programs year-round.
2007 – Camp Hayward opens the new Tousant Hall, dedicated to Dr. Emma Tousant, the nation’s first female YMCA Board Chair.
2011 – The Y merges with the South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell, bringing environmental, nature-based education and ecological stewardship to our community offerings.
2011 – The Y responds to the growing need for Early Education and purchases the Masters Academy in Hanover, repurposing it as an Early Learning Center for children 6 weeks to 5 years old providing quality education for 250 children weekly.
2013 – The Mill Pond Y Branch is dedicated as the Emilson YMCA Branch, honoring long-time supporters, Herb and Paulie Emilson, and serving a membership of nearly 19,000 people.
2013 – South Shore YMCA Laura’s Center for the Arts opens to make arts and music education accessible to the residents of the South Shore.
2013 – The South Shore Y completes a $15 million capital campaign to replace the old Quincy Y building. The new 118,000 square foot facility provides programs and services for all ages and abilities reflecting the rich cultural diversity of the community. The NEW Quincy YMCA is established as one of the largest urban Ys in the country serving 20,000 members.
2016 – A winterized dining hall with a capacity of 400 is built at Camp Hayward allowing for the expansion of our girls’ summer camp and year-round outdoor education programs.
- 2019 – The South Shore YMCA completes an incredibly successful “Leave Your Mark” Capital Campaign, raising $13 million in one year. These funds will be used to expand childcare, wellness, and recreational facilities across the South Shore YMCA facilities and programs.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the South Shore YMCA to close its doors to membership operations for months. Camp Burgess & Hayward had to cancel the 2020 summer camp season for the first time in their history. The South Shore YMCA was forced to furlough over 900 staff members.
During that time, the South Shore Y pivoted and, thanks to the support of our donors and community, became an emergency COVID-19 relief organization. The South Shore YMCA food pantry at the Germantown Neighborhood Center launched into action, serving four times our usual number of visitors, feeding families, children, isolated seniors and individuals who lost jobs due to COVID-19.
Our Early Learning Centers became Emergency Childcare Centers, caring for the children of first responders, medical workers and essential employees. When school reopened, our Y opened Remote Learning Support programs so that parents could return to work.
When Mayor Koch called and asked if our Y could help Father Bills & Mainspring to provide temporary shelter for older, at-risk adults facing homelessness, our Quincy YMCA turned our Briggs Family Field House into a temporary homeless shelter, to help prevent the community spread of COVID-19 and keep these adults safe.
Our Y supported local restaurants through the SSYMCA COVID-19 Community Challenge, raising money from the community to hire local restaurants to prepare healthy meals for our shelter guests, emergency childcare teachers and children and food pantry. We also partnered with local housing authorities to deliver meals to isolated seniors and individuals with disabilities.