Now celebrating 130 years of health, fitness, and community, the YMCA remains true to its lasting mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids. Staff members at the YMCA of Gloucester County uphold the organization’s core values of honesty, acceptance, and fairness as they invest in their community’s children and strengthen family bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly. They pump up adult-fitness regimens with aquatic-fitness classes, a martial-arts studio, and personal-training sessions. When they’re not helping adults trim down waistlines during yoga and aerobics classes, staff members are getting back in touch with their inner children. They stimulate imagination, mental development, and growth as they lead children’s day camps, afterschool programs, and youth basketball.
The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, running 2,180 miles over mountains, rocky slopes, and deep valleys. Since it was established in 1925, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) has cared for the trail, maintaining 250,000 acres of public land. The organization educates hikers on Leave No Trace camping and why it's not a good idea to challenge a bear to a hugging contest.
Volunteers and trail crews build and repair shelters along the footpath and engage youth and community members in outdoor activities. In addition to these human-oriented services, the ATC works to protect endangered species living along the trail and to preserve the land's watershed streams and migratory corridor.
The JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes & 5K empowers runners and walkers to contribute to the battle against Type 1 diabetes one stride at a time. Racers dash through a marked 5K track, testing their endurance and pursuing a personal best—whether by shaving off a few seconds, finishing a race for the first time, or crossing the line before their shadow does. Attendees can also demonstrate support by enrolling their dogs, who can also take part in the race. Whether running or walking, all participants work toward the same goal: raising funds and awareness for JDRF’s mission to contribute to treatments, and eventually a cure, for Type 1 diabetes.
Philadelphians and out-of-towners alike can find refuge from the city by way of the Forbidden Drive, a scenic expanse that extends from Chestnut Hill to Manayunk, yet feels miles away from urban life. As part of the Wissahickon Valley Park—which covers 1,800 acres—the wooded trail shelters joggers, cyclists, hikers, and even those on horseback as they explore the area's natural flora and fauna. A frequent spot for organized races, the trail is also marked by historic and geological sites.
The Friends of Wissahickson, or FOW, is a non-profit organization that started in 1924. With over 1,600 members, they work in conjunction with the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to restore historical structures, eliminate invasive plants, monitor watershed management, and restore trails with the Sustainable Trails Initiative.
Visitors could explore Tyler Arboretum for hours and still not see everything it has to offer. For one thing, it's huge—the arboretum covers 650 acres of woodlands and gardens crisscrossed with 17 miles of hiking trails. For another, it's constantly hosting educational programs and special events. And then there's the seasonal variation: the exhibits here—not to mention the flora and fauna—change by the month, week, and day.
Some of the arboretum's most colorful exhibits include a small pond, a 1,400-square-foot butterfly house, and nine interactive tree houses (open April–November) scattered across the property. Tyler Arboretum is open year-round, but some of the best times to visit are in spring and summer, when flowers are in bloom and there are no snowmen around demanding top hats and scarves.