At one time, there were individual Ys in Camden, Rockport and Rockland. The Camden YMCA opened its doors on April 10, 1916 on Chestnut Street where it would operate for more than 86 years. The Chestnut Street building was never big enough to accommodate all of the dreams and ideas of the community, despite multiple expansions. The first capital campaign raised $242,000 to construct a swimming pool. In 1979, the next campaign, with a goal of $750,000, improved the pool, built racquetball/squash courts, a larger gym, and other rooms.
At the end of its tenure, the Camden Area YMCA on Chestnut Street serviced 2,160 members with little space available for new or expanded offerings. The 29,500 square foot facility had serious problems including: overcrowding of the four-lane pool, small gym, unsafe on-street only parking, lack of ADA compliance, no outdoor play area, limited multipurpose program space and antiquated ventilation and operating systems. During 1998— 2003, the Board’s single highest priority was to implement a new service vision: to meet the needs of a wider service area and expand programs for teens, seniors and the disabled population. A decision was made to embark on a $7 million capital campaign to construct a facility that would service our members and community for the next 50 years. After careful review of the initial plans for a 62,000 square foot facility and needs of the community, the capital campaign was increased to $10.5 million.
On November 11, 2002, the Penobscot Bay YMCA opened its new 62,000 square foot facility in Rockport. Since opening, membership has grown to over 5,000. Service goals are on track with expanded programming for teens, seniors and those with specific needs. In 2010, the Penobscot Bay YMCA opened an outreach facility on the island of North Haven and also acquired the Teen Center in Camden.
Simply put, the YMCA is a place where children discover themselves…an outreach post for teens…a gathering spot for families…and a social center for seniors.
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