The story of how our family came to vacation at the YMCA of the Rockies begins over 100 years ago with a mosquito.
Unless you’ve spent time at the Lula W. Dorsey Museum, or grew up visiting Estes Park, you probably don’t know much about the history of the YMCA of the Rockies. I’m a sucker for a good story and today during the predictable Colorado afternoon rainstorm, I cozied up with a few books and disappeared into the history of ‘The Y’.
I laughed aloud, startling the chipmunk who was busy nibbling the remnant of a pretzel near my foot, when I read the unexpected tale. According to oral tradition, if it had not been for a fateful scourge of mosquitos forcing the evacuation of a very important meeting, the camp could have ended up pretty much anywhere in the western United States.
In July of 1907, at the direction of the 20th Annual Convention of the Colorado State Young Men’s Christian Association, an executive committee of thirty men from half a dozen states met in Grand Lake, Colorado for the purpose of establishing plans for a retreat center in the western US for an annual Bible conference and summer training. Although the delegates found peace and quiet while contemplating the task at hand, the overwhelming annoyance of the mosquitos forced the five day meeting to end after only two days of planning.
Six of the delegates decided to take advantage of the unexpected days of leisure and hike over the Continental Divide. After an arduous trek, the weary hikers eventually found warmth and welcome at the Wind River Lodge in Estes Park. After a refreshing night’s sleep at the lodge, the delegates set out to explore their surroundings. The morning light illuminated the snow white glacier wedged deep into the face of Mt. Ypsilon, forming an unmistakable letter Y. The six members of the conference immediately believed that God had led them to this particular spot, stamped the mountain Himself with its insignia and created a place for the YMCA camp.
Exactly one year later, in the summer of 1908, the first Western Conference of the YMCA was held at the Wind River Lodge in Estes Park. The rest, as they say, is history.
Yesterday, we spent the Fourth of July celebrating 236 years of our country’s history. Husband and I enjoyed watching the Littles march in the YMCA’s annual parade fondly dubbed “the shortest but most enthusiastic parade in America.”
It’s easy to feel small against the majestic backdrops of the Rocky Mountains and insignificant wrapped in hundreds of years of history. Then I remember I worship a God who in an ultimate act of creativity spoke these immense mountains into place and countless centuries later employed the tiniest of His creatures as part of His plan for this place from which we are blessed to take joy.