at Mission Valley YMCA


Youth InstituteSummer 2017:
June 26 - August 19

Apply NOW!

We are now accepting applications for the 2017 YMCA Youth Institute at Mission Valley YMCA. You’ll learn valuable computer/digital media art skills, academic skills, make new friends, and explore careers.

Not only is this eight-week summer program COMPLETELY FREE but upon successful graduation you will receive a $100 STIPEND!

  • Learn digital video production, digital music, graphic design, web design and robotics
  • Boost academic skills such as literacy, diversity training, ecology and natural sciences
  • Gain job skills such as dress, punctuality, resume writing, decision-making skills, team work and problem solving


new student application

Alumni application

Deadline: June 5, 2017. The Youth Institute is open to a limited number of students, and acceptance for participation is through a competitive application review process.

YMCA Youth Institute
Attention: Edreace Purmul
5505 Friars Road
San Diego, CA 92110

Youth Institute MagazineAbout the Institute:

Since 2014, Mission Valley Y hosts a group of students each summer at our Youth Institute. In the eight-week program, teens gain leadership and academic skills while exploring digital story telling, graphic design, robotics and photography. The group creates a magazine, short films and explored careers.



Edreace P
Cymer Digital Studio Director Edreace Purmul leads our Youth Institute program. The filmmaker is passionate about helping members of the community, and he is dedicated to cultivating a positive culture for youth at the Y.

K Willie
Kenda Willie is the head studio technician at Cymer Digital Studio. She is not drawing comic books, reading, writing, attending school or working as a bookseller, Kenda is thrilled to be helping the students at Youth Institute each summer.


Edreace Purmul, [email protected], (619) 298-3576

thanks to our partners, past and present

Time Warner

class of 2015

Youth Institute Graduates Second Class!

In August 2015, 16 high-school students became the second graduating class of the Summer Youth Institute at Mission Valley YMCA. They, along with six alumni, completed an an eight-week program in digital arts. The teens gained leadership and academic skills while exploring digital story telling, graphic design, robotics and photography.

Students created a magazine and short films, attended a week-long wilderness retreat and explored careers.

Notes from the class and staff:

"We’d like to thank everyone for their participation and contribution to this year’s Youth Institute graduation ceremony. We had an amazing potluck and showcase. We also thank our amazing emcee, Allan Gutierrez, who captured our attention and hearts. We hope this summer program graduation is not deemed as an end, but rather a beginning of the youth’s engagement and participation at the Cymer Studio!" - Edreace Purmul, director

"I'd like to congratulate all of my Y.I. students (new class and alumni) for making it through this crazy summer. This season has been one to remember for me — both in my students and the staff I've had the pleasure of working with. You all are amazing and will be missed."— Kevin

"This summer has definitely been one for the books. We've had a lot of bumps and a lot of amazing successes. I'm so proud of the kids and what they've accomplished. I'm extremely honored to continue being a part of the Youth Institute." — Kenda

"My favorite part of the Youth Institute was the people and the family that we built together. I know that I can come here every day and that I always feel welcomed." - Lily Correa, student

"I learned real-life experiences and struggles and benefits to having a group. I also learned new techniques and skills in certain mediums of art." — Charlie Cooper, student

"It was not as different as I was expecting it to be, but it was a big change. There was a lot less mini projects and more big projects that required a lot of focus. It was a lot of hard work, but I really enjoyed it. It was incredibly stressful at times, but I will say that it was something that I loved." — Averie Wehr, alumni, class of 2014

The Best Summer
by Lily Correa

This summer, out of many summers that I have had, was the best. There was not one thing in particular that made it extraordinary, on the contrary, it was quite ordinary. Maybe it was because every day was a new surprise and because I never knew what was going to happen next.

Maybe it was the people, the vibes. Maybe it was the weather or the challenges. All I knew was that I loved everything about each day and all the days together. I will never know exactly why it was so special, like a magic trick, not knowing how it was done was what made it magical.

One thing that I am certain of is that I was the most human this summer. I laughed, I cried, I interacted. I got to be myself, without doubt or fear. The people around me made me feel like I could be every side of me and that it would never change how much they cared. I got to see who I was and how other people saw me. I had never felt so comfortable before. I built a family with people I did not know and who I never thought I would get along with. I learned many things, but out of all of those things, I learned to love.

This summer was eye-opening. Beforehand I always thought I had a good grip on the person I was and the qualities I possessed. Yet, when I began to face challenges, such as being in a room full of strangers, I froze up. I never thought I was that way. I believed that I was different, that I could interact without hesitation. Yet, the second the opportunity revealed itself, I became a stranger to myself. This summer was a time to discover myself, who I really was when people were around. I grew every second of the summer, all for the better.

As the days went by, the people stood out to me more and more. They were so unique, no two alike. I loved them for everything that they were. What I loved the most was that when they were around I would quickly forget the things that I hated about myself and I could almost love myself as much as I loved them. Sure, I did not get along with everyone, but I still loved the souls that were among me. They quickly became brothers and sisters to me and even to this day, I can easily say that I would do anything to see them happy.

This summer, I realized how important being human was. I realized how much of an impact you have on the people around you. Especially in the wilderness, I noticed the importance of living in the moment. Without devices between us, I noticed that I listened more closely when people spoke or looked around me with more enthusiasm. I loved being human with people I just met. It felt like a fresh start, which was something I greatly needed.

Most of all, aside from the skills we learned and the activities we did, I got to live in the present even for just a minute. I got to really look at the people and the sky that wanted to be seen and hear the wind and the voices that wanted to be heard. I got to smile and mean it. I got to cry and feel relieved. I got to love and feel like the feeling was returned.

If there was one thing that I would be most grateful for, it would be the people. To whoever is responsible for making this summer the best, I thank you with my most sincere gratitude.

I do not know how my cards would have played out if I hadn't met these 27 people and if I had not joined the Youth Institute. We live most of our lives never really thinking about the consequences of every decision. Life passes by and we decide things that seem relatively meaningless at the moment, like turning left instead of right or joining a program instead of not. Then we realize how the smallest most meaningless choice, turns your summer in the best time you have had.

Summer 2014

In August 2014, 16 students became the first graduates of Mission Valley YMCA’s Summer Youth Institute. In this eight-week program, our teens gained leadership and academic skills while exploring digital story telling, graphic design, robotics and photography. More than 100 supporters attended the ceremony, which showcased four short films and a magazine created by the students.

According to an evaluation by researchers at the Child Welfare Training Centre School of Social Work at California State University, Long Beach, the Youth Institute:

  • Helped youth develop a diverse range of leadership skills that should prove beneficial in school, the larger community and in the future.
  • The summer program, with its intensive technology focus, was able to teach participants a wide variety of high-end digital media skills.
  • Participants reported significant improvement in academic self-perceptions (confidence in their skill) and motivation/self-regulation
  • The program was successful in promoting life skills, positive core values, sense of self, social
    competency/personal responsibility and community involvement. Community involvement, as well as some of the other variables measured here, have been linked to better academic achievement, increased self-efficacy, better attitudes toward school and education, higher levels of community involvement, and better leadership and empathy skills
Summarized from "Evaluation of the Effects of the 2014 San Diego Mission Valley YMCA Youth Institute Summer Program on Leadership and Technology Skills, Educational Attitudes and Positive Youth Development — Download the full report (PDF):