Takodians Visit Uruguay

Montevideo YMCA and Camp Artigas

By William Parkman, Board President

Cabins at Camp Artigas

Kapers are an important cabin duty during a campers experience at Camp Takodah. Imagine if one of those duties was to start a fire under a water boiler before you could take a hot shower in the twins. We take our electric hot water tanks for granted, but for the campers at Camp Artigas in Colonia, Uruguay, it’s a cabin responsibility that each division relies on. Executive Director, Artie Lang, and I recently made the journey to Camp Artigas and the YMCA of Uruguay to begin a relationship with the Takodah YMCA.

This experience actually began in October 2016 at Frost Valley YMCA Camp in the Catskill Mountains of NY. Frost Valley hosted an International Camp Directors Conference with the YMCA of the USA. Camp Directors from across the US and around the world converged to discuss camping trends. Part of the conference also included US camps forming relationships with camps in other parts of the world. Artie returned back to Takodah with delegates from Peru, Spain, and Uruguay. Members of the Takodah Board and staff continued dialogue with the directors about a summer camp experience at Camp Takodah. After three days of meetings and sightseeing the directors returned to their respective Y’s.

Bill arriving at Camp Artigas

In February Artie and I made the 5,500 mile journey to Montevideo, Uruguay where we reconnected with Camp Artigas director Ramon and met YMCA of the USA representatives Laura and Renata, who was also our interpreter. Being the summer season of Uruguay it was nice and hot. We were given a tour of the main branch of the Montevideo YMCA before visiting the YMCA’s elementary school and Community Development Teen Center of vulnerable children. The Teen Center is an area where our world service contributions from our Heritage travel students and campers from Takodah can make a big impact – clothing, school supplies, etc.

From Montevideo we traveled to Camp Artigas in Colonia, Uruguay. The sights and sounds of camp are the same anywhere in the world: villages of cabins with a central twins, children playing, singing, the camp bell ringing for the next activity, camp food — we felt right at home. We met with camp staff, board members, neighbors, and local leaders to begin conversation on building a relationship between Camp Artigas and Takodah YMCA.

Artie giving a presentation

The highlight of our visit to the Montevideo YMCA and its branches was learning about their strong Teen Leadership program. We talked to many teens and adults that went through the teen program, who spoke passionately and enthusiastically about their experiences in the program. They began their journey at the Y between the ages of 2-7 and participated in the Y programs until they could participate in the teen program and many stayed within the organization to become directors of their many programs and directors of their branches.

The Takodah YMCA does a wonderful job in developing our youth into responsible US citizens. We have an opportunity for our developmental travel and camp LC and LIT programs to expand their experience to the Montevideo YMCA and Camp Artigas to be responsible World citizens.