Community reaction to YMCA closing

Several people with lasting memories of the YMCA of Stanislaus County and its mountain summer camp have called or sent e-mails since learning of plans for today's closure of the Modesto building:

'I've always been extremely self-conscious about going to a gym; I just feel like I'm being judged. I never felt that way with these people at the Y. They always treated me with the utmost respect. I just loved the place from the start. The community needs the YMCA -- if for nothing else, then for hope in these trying times.'

-- Joan King, Modesto

'(I want to) provide a personal note of hope to my hometown citizens that the YMCA of Stanislaus County will rise again more focused and better than ever in the not-so-distant future. Leaders come and go, but great institutions, like the YMCA, are an integral part of our American way of life.'

-- Leroy Cabral, Oregon

'Camp Jack Hazard literally changed my life. It's a place of stewardship, love and compassion for the Earth. I took that into the world and majored in environmental studies and now I'm a professional recycler, all because of camp.'

-- Kimberly Miller, Oakland

'Funny, Jack Hazard built something great up in the Sierra; who knew it would outlive the Stanislaus (County) site? Camp Jack Hazard, where everybody rocks out!'

-- Sergio Pineda, Humboldt State University student and former after-school program and camp employee

'My commitment to humanity and our planet emerged as a result of the time I spent at camp. When children go to camp, they are exposed to the reality that they are powerful agents of progress, growth and change and that investing their hearts into their peers, the land and themselves is worthwhile.'

-- Former Camp Jack Hazard co-director Anna Jackson, writing from a human trafficking and abuse shelter where she is a graduate student intern in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

'Camp Jack Hazard has made a huge impact on my life and the lives of countless other people. The YMCA of Stanislaus County has left an indelible mark on this community. I have acquired friends, confidence and a desire to help people through my time spent at the YMCA.'

-- Former camp staffer Camille Bourcier, California State University, Chico, student and daughter of YMCA of Stanislaus County senior director Linda Bourcier

'I am overjoyed to hear that Camp Jack Hazard will continue on. It would be a loss of epic proportion if camp wasn't camp anymore. The most important lessons I learned from camp were to be adventurous, love nature and don't be afraid to be goofy because life is short. Oh, and don't forget to sing out! "Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain, with the barkers and the colored balloons! ... You're leaving there too soon." '

-- Earl Matthews, Modesto

Compiled by Garth Stapley