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Our History

The YMCA of the Chippewa Valley was created when the Eau Claire Downtown YMCA and the Chippewa Valley Family YMCA merged in May of 2019 and is currently:

  • One of the largest childcare providers in the area.

  • Teaching thousands of kids how to swim, play basketball, play football, and participate in a variety of other activities. 

  • Employing over 800 staff annually. 

  • Serving nearly 10,000 members.

The YMCA of the Chippewa Valley started with the YMCA of Eau Claire in 1881. Reading, gospel meetings, socialization, and physical fitness opportunities were offered to members. 

From 1912-1961, the Y served as a rooming house in addition to offering programming with a pool and gym. 

In 1952, Hank Aaron lived at the Eau Claire YMCA while playing for the Eau Claire Bears. That year, he was the unanimous choice for the Northern League's Rookie of the Year.

The current facility in downtown Eau Claire was dedicated in 1961 with additions in 1968 and 1977.

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The Chippewa Falls YMCA's current campus opened its doors to the community in 1980, but the YMCA has had a presence in the community since the lumber and papermill era. The YMCA Early Learning Community was added in 2000 and currently serves around 100 kids at the center and approximately 250 kids at our school-age sites.

YMCA Kept Lumberjacks From Carousing All Night  (Originally printed in the Chippewa Herald - circa Nov-Dec 1980)

A Young Men’s Christian Association was first chartered in Chippewa Falls in either late 1883 or early 1884.  It was located in the area now occupied by the law offices at 119 ½ N. Bridge St.

Unlike the “Y” of today, the first facility was a reading room and meeting hall for the young men drawn to the city by the lumbering industry. 

The YMCA of that day provided fellowship through group scripture readings – an alternative to leaving the lumberjacks to carouse all night long.

In that respect, the mission was similar to the mission of the YMCA today, which maintains employee membership deals with the area’s larger businesses.

The mission of the original YMCA was to help individuals grow in spirit, mind, and body.  Today, the Y helps people grow through fair play and fellowship.

Today’s YMCA, located at 611 Jefferson Ave., is the result of a community effort that began in the mid-1970s.  The first recorded meeting to look at the feasibility of building a YMCA took place on May 21, 1974.

On January 12, 1979 the group purchased four acres of land from the fir association and started a fund-raising drive.

On July 10, 1979, the ground was broken and construction began.  The building was dedicated on November 2, 1980.

The John & Fay Menard YMCA Tennis Center opened in April 2018 and is located next to the entrance to Carson Park. Replaces our old Tennis facility which opened in 1972. This 8-court facility is possible because of the generosity of the Menard Family. 

The L.E. Phillips YMCA Sports Center was acquired by Eau Claire YMCA in September 2018. This facility has a turf field and sport court arena and is home to our gymnastics program and gymnastics team. Several leagues for youth and adult sports are held here, as are many family and community events.


Camp Manitou is our overnight camp located on the shores of Lower Long Lake near New Auburn, WI. It was founded in 1923. Summer Camp serves youth entering grades 2-10. Learn more about Camp Manitou by clicking here

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