CEO: 500 Kids And Counting

Jul 1, 2019, 11:19 AM by Chris Coker

As you read this blog, the YMCA of Northern Colorado is caring for thousands of kids at our camps, pools, summer sports, swim lessons and ice programs. Also, as you read this, we are building a new Boulder County Head Start site at the Arapahoe Y for 80 kids, and we are hosting the "topping out" ceremony at our new Y in Johnstown in just a month. 

It is a busy time for your Y.

However, as I write this, I am listening in the background to a podcast called The Daily. It is by The New York Times, and today's episode (July 1) is about our migrant detention centers, where we are housing children. I say our detention centers because I live in the US, I vote and I pay taxes. I have some responsibility, and I called my congressman to voice my displeasure. If I ran my camps the way we run our detention centers in this country, I would be arrested and our licenses would be revoked.

Many of these centers are privately run and not managed by our government: They are contracted out. I urge each one of you to look into this on your own. This has been in the news for months, and it is still going on. The conditions continue to be unacceptable. This is not a political rant on my part. It is a rant about how we are treating children. A country can absolutely be judged by the way it treats its children and those who are less fortunate. I actually listened to a government attorney argue that as a country we are not obligated to provide children soap, tooth-brushes and toothpaste at a short-term detention facility; however, the facilities that were designed for short-term stays are so over-crowded that they are becoming long-term. It is a laughable argument, and I wish that the judge had ordered the government attorney to spend a couple of weeks at that detention center in the exact same conditions he was espousing. I do not believe that the attorney was representing the ideals of the average American. The reporter indicated seeing children in clothes that they had been wearing when detained weeks earlier. 

When we hear about war crimes or you hear someone say, “I was just following orders,” we all shake our heads and think that we would never do such horrible acts. We would do better. But what are we doing right now in our own country? We are better than this! But do we care enough to voice our displeasure?


At our Y this summer, we have more than 500 kids attending camp with the help of fee assistance (and hundreds more in other programs). I know that a percentage of these children are undocumented. The Y does not ask about citizenship; we simply care for children. Our Y does not believe that children can be held accountable for where their parents bring them, but we (the Y) can be held accountable for not giving them good care, love and a place to thrive. Our job at the Y is to help children grow into viable adults. By viable, I mean that they grow into people who have jobs, pay taxes, are law-abiding and add to their community, instead of taking from their community.

We believe that the world should be better because you are in it, and that's what we teach the kids in our programs.

We have a new campaign called Champ For Camp. I would like for each of you to consider sponsoring one of these kids at camp. We have many agencies and families reaching out to us for camp scholarships, and we are unable to provide care for all our kids in need during all the weeks of camp they want. I want to do more, but I need more donors.

Please consider sponsoring a less fortunate child into one of our programs. Take a stand, and help me help them.


Chris Coker  
YMCA of Northern Colorado