Making the Most of Quality Time with Family in the Summer

You’re packing the car, the kids are begging for more screen time and hubby is rifling through the shed looking for the sand toys. It’s the pre-vacation rush for that end-of-summer trip and you’re t-minus 30 minutes away from hitting the road for quality time with the fam. How to make the most of it?

1. It’s all about your perspective

All time can be transformed into quality time. It’s all about your perspective. It can be just as difficult during the holidays to slow down and focus on what really matters. But taking advantage of all the little moments that present themselves by using them to get to know your kids and partner can go a long way. So spend a little extra time at the dinner table talking with your teens, tell jokes with your little ones while tying their shoes, and even play truth or dare with your partner while doing the dishes.

2. Anything can be a game

Whether it’s heading to the lake, driving to Grandma’s place, or going for a hike, you can take advantage of a little friendly competition to bring the fam together. Race up the mountain, see who can tread water the longest or play a round of the Animal Name Game...the options are endless!

3. Get your silly on

Everyone wants to be silly. Even your angsty tween. Make dinner memories by giving the kids unconventional utensils: a spatula, whisk, tongs, etc.  Or maybe force everyone to hop on one foot through the mall, wear funny hats to the beach, or talk in an English accent for the duration of the day. Let’s get creative!

4. Ask questions

What are you most looking forward to on this vacation? What’s your favourite memory from the last holiday?  If you could change anything in the world, what would it be?  What’s your favourite part of being in our family?  Asking questions that you wouldn’t normally ask is a great way to get to know your family in new ways. We’re all far more fascinating and complex than we realize or normally take the time to get to know!

5. Be available

This applies all year-round, but actively choosing unstructured time where you make yourself available to your family is a great way to deepen your relationships. Give them the option and let them come to you. Or perhaps come alongside them while they are playing with their favourite toy, cuddle up with them while they are falling asleep, or simply plunk yourself down on the couch without your phone, book or TV remote. Who knows what might happen?

How are you spending quality time with the fam this summer?  Tweet us @GreaterVanYMCA

YMCA and Surrey Firefighters partner for youth mental health

It’s not easy these days to strike a healthy balance between school, work commitments and personal relationships. For youth struggling with anxiety, it can be even more overwhelming.

With a growing awareness of how our mental health can impact our overall well-being, the Surrey Firefighters recently became the founding partner of the YMCA’s Youth Mindfulness program in Surrey. The program combines mindfulness tools and techniques with physical activity to help youth cope with anxiety before it becomes debilitating. This partnership means that young people ages 18-30 will be able to access support to address their anxiety in the community in which they live.

Surrey Firefighter Dylan Van Rooyen says youth mental health is a priority for his association, and they support both research and front line programming. He says it’s time to remove stigmas around mental health. “The YMCA Youth Mindfulness program is a great way to bring the issue out in the open and to start the conversation and help youth who are affected. We’re really proud to be the founding partner and it’s time to remove the stigma around mental health,” he says.

Peter Toppings, Director of Community Health at the YMCA of Greater Vancouver says he’s grateful the Surrey Firefighters have chosen to support the Youth Mindfulness program. “We know untreated anxiety causes youth to withdraw and can prevent them from completing school and gaining confidence. This program matters and will make a huge difference for the young people in our community.”

If you or a youth you know is struggling with mental health issues, don’t face it alone. The YMCA is here to help.

For more information on Youth Mindfulness:


If you would like to inquire about making a donation to this program, please contact

The Y around town

You may have seen our YMCA team out and about in your community this summer! Here are just a few of the events the Y has taken part in:



  • Pride Pancake Breakfast - In front of the Robert Lee YMCA the team served up 600 plates of colourful pancakes to celebrate Pride week.


















Y on the Go - The Tong Louie YMCA has been in Panorama Village Park providing Active Play for kids and families.


Canada Day - In Surrey, the team brought their families out to celebrate Canada Day.





KitsFest - It's a tough job hanging out by the beach, but a few YMCA'ers managed to find a few hours to put on their sunscreen and support the community at Kits Beach.








First Tee of the Greater Vancouver YMCA on the upswing

Did you know the YMCA of Greater Vancouver’s First Tee program helps vulnerable kids and youth learn the game of golf? It combines practical education with skill building and helps kids gain self- confidence on and off the fairway.

Last month, the First Tee held the annual Million Dollar Challenge fundraiser to raise funds for its expanding program. One hundred and fifty amateur golfers turned up at the Richmond Country Club to be paired up with a golf pro and play for their chance to win the grand prize. While nobody won the coveted million dollars, the real winners were the kids who will benefit from the funds raised.

Wells Fargo bank set the tone for the tournament by donating $10,000 US to the Vancouver chapter of The First Tee. The donation represents the local portion of a $1 million gift given to 175 First Tee chapters across North America. Wells Fargo marked the occasion by visiting the Langara Family YMCA in the Wells Fargo classic stagecoach. YMCA kids had the opportunity to play on the stagecoach and learn about its colourful role in the growth of America.

Wells Fargo Middle Market Commercial Bank Vice President Warren Tsoi was thrilled to support the program and says “golf naturally teaches important life lessons like honesty, patience and integrity. We’re pleased to bring the game of golf, with its history and traditions to kids that may never have had the opportunity to experience the game and these lessons.”

If you would like to learn how you can support the First Tee of the Greater Vancouver YMCA, please click the link below:

Set someone you know on the right course for their future.


Guilt-free and kid-friendly summer treats

With the warm weather, we often reach for frozen treats to enjoy and cool us down. But traditional freezer treats like ice cream or freezies are high in sugar and low in nutrition. Here are some healthy alternatives that are both delicious and more nutritious!

Whole Fruit Popsicles 

The View from Great Island has come up with a cool take (pun intended) on the traditional popsicle. All you need is fruit for this low cal, low carb and colourful treat. Help yourselves, kiddies!

Watermelon Strawberry Sorbet

This healthy sorbet has a similar texture to ice cream. Not only does it taste great, but it’ll help cool you down and satisfy those sweet cravings!

  • ½ cup cold water
  • 5 cups seedless watermelon (cut into chunks and then frozen)
  • 1 ¼ cups frozen strawberries
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on one’s taste)

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Enjoy right away or put it into the freezer to enjoy later.

Summer Twisted Banana Loaf

Okay, it’s not a frozen treat, but with so many amazing fruits available during the summer, we couldn’t resist mentioning this loaf. Simple Recipes claims this banana bread recipe has been the most popular recipe on their website for the past 10 years! Although they claim that butter is the reason it’s such a hit, we suggest you substitute it with unsweetened applesauce for guilt-free enjoyment. Feeling daring? Cut down the sugar too.

Don’t forget to try adding different seasonal fruit combinations—a cup of fresh blueberries or strawberries with a ½ cup of unsweetened coconut, or try adding a finely chopped fresh peach. The loaf is your oyster, have fun with it!

We are one step closer to a second YMCA in Surrey! Now even more children and families will reach their potential.

The City of Surrey and the YMCA signed an Agreement in Principle to build a new YMCA centre of community projected to open in 2021. This agreement outlines key elements of the partnership and the next steps are to select a site for the facility and the launch of a capital campaign to be led by the YMCA.
“The YMCA’s commitment to help all people reach their potential paired with City Council’s focus on building a socially sustainable Surrey makes this a natural partnership,” says Stephen Butz, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. “We believe everyone can thrive when they are active, learning and connected.”
The proposed new facility’s features will be similar to the Tong Louie Family YMCA:
  • 60,000 square feet of space, with underground parking
  • Indoor pool to provide a range of teaching, fitness and rehabilitative programming
  • Change rooms that cater to all ages and abilities, including family change rooms
  • Public spaces and common areas
  • Gymnasium, studios and strength and conditioning zones
  • Multi-purpose rooms to offer a broad range of child, youth and community programs
  • Childminding to allow parents and caregivers time to work out
  • Family Development Centre to help families raise great kids through programming, resources and support
“The City of Surrey is pleased to partner with the YMCA of Greater Vancouver to address the social infrastructure needs of our growing communities,” said Mayor Linda Hepner. “Council’s recent approval of this Agreement in Principle furthers the strong working relationship shared by our organizations. We look forward to undertaking the next steps in the process.”
​Want to stay in the know about the Surrey City Centre Family YMCA project?