By Robert N. Ruesch
YMCA of the Rockies has been in operation since 1907, over 100 years and a decade. During that time generations of families, summer staff and full-time employees have had a presence on the property. What is interesting is the continuing legacy of generation after generation that continues to create the foundation of memories here.
I have been a part of the “Y” since 1950, when my father accepted a position at what was then known as Association Camp in the role of camp secretary, as the title was known back then. He planned on not staying but a half a decade and then moving on. Three decades later, he retired from his position at what is now known as Estes Park Center. One generation. My work was from the “mature” age of 13 helping in maintenance, moving to Program in high school and then on to being a grease monkey at the Y gas station during college. Years later my journey became a career for over a decade at Snow Mountain Ranch, the sister camp to Estes Park Center. Now two generations in the family.
Then a granddaughter came on summer staff years later – three generations – one skipped but the tradition continues. This legacy of generations is not unusual; actually it is more than normal than one would imagine.
A few nights ago, I had the opportunity to share the dinner hour with one of the year-round staff members works behind the front desk. During our conversation on many subjects we talked about the current summer staff. As we completed our time together, she asked if I had time to meet the crew she supervised. As I was introduced, the tsunami of the generational legacy, was displayed.
There was Julie, who was the great-granddaughter of a former summer staff employee; her grandmother met her grandfather at the Y. Her father worked in the summer here, as well as her mother. Now Julie is here, working for the summer, making her own memories. She asked if I remembered her parents and her grandparents. She wanted to know if I remembered the former owners of the livery, Bill and Fanny Robertson, because, as a young child they positively impacted her life.
Then Ben spoke up. His parents had stayed here and he wanted to come back while on summer break from college to work and add to the generational memories. He recalled the positive and fun times of participating in the day care program and remembered his counselors’ names from several summers he vacationed in the majestic Colorado Rockies. He remembered the livery and Bill and Fanny.
As I continued to listen to storied memory after memory, I kept thinking back about how many more families share the same blessing. There is a niece who, every year brings her adult family to Estes Park Center, rents a cabin for a week so they can share in generational memory making. She was introduced to the “camp” when her aunt worked as the executive secretary back in the 1950s. The foundation of the legacy started then, and continues every year as a family reunion, celebration and re-charge for the year.
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from which comes my help.” (Psalm 121:1). For decades individuals, families and volunteers have traveled to the high-altitude paradise of YMCA of the Rockies to relax, renew, recreate, work, learn and refresh. General managers and CEOs have started in Housekeeping, Youth Program, Building & Grounds, you name a department and you will realize an individual who made a commitment to carve out a career in the Colorado Rockies.
As they say, “the beat goes on,” and the heartbeat continues, every day, each season, year after year that become decades of blessed memories and tradition. Families come back and commit not only time but financial support, supporting a cabin donor program that offers other families the opportunity to come to the mountains, and weave the love of family and friends together, year after year.
The future is always uncertain, but the consistency of remembering, bringing the foundation of family and friends together, will more than likely continue. Conferences, adults, youth, professional groups, weddings, even memorial services will be scheduled. This is YMCA of the Rockies, a vision started in 1907 when several individuals walked over the Continental Divide, camped in a meadow now known as Estes Park Center, looked at Mt. Ypsilon, saw that the snow had outlined a Y, and knew this was the site to build a place that now has a history of decades of generations. This is YMCA of the Rockies, creating memories since 1907.