MONTCLAIR, NJ - James Goodger, Executive Director of the Montclair YMCA Geyer Branch has officially been named the new Exective Director of the South Mountain YMCA after serving nearly eight years in the Montclair position.
When Goodger began his career in 1999 as a lifeguard at the YMCA Park Street Branch in Montclair, he never could've imagined that he would end up becoming Executive Director and Director of Camping Services over a decade later.
When he first arrived, Goodger recalls that the YMCA Geyer branch had 800 members and has since grown to 2,400 members and includes a School of the Performing Arts. According to Goodger, the branch has flourished, having now offered year-round performing arts classes for all ages, including dance, music and yoga, in renovated facilities complete with two dance studios.
Goodger, who was impressed when he first arrived at the Park Street Branch, said, “It was the hub of the community,” recalling the energy and excitement.
He spent three years working at the Montclair YMCA as a lifeguard, aquatics school group teacher and New Discoveries Camp Sports Director. Goodger has also served within the Y in other capacities such as a School Age Child Care Program Director, and later, a Youth and Family Senior Program Director at the Park Street Branch.
The 41-year-old, grew up in the United Kingdom and first began working at a New Jersey summer camp in 1993 as part of an international camp counselor program.
“After I finished high school, I decided to take a gap year and do some traveling,” he said. “I fell in love with summer camp.”
Goodger returned to the U.K. to study theater and performing arts at Warwick University where he earned his bachelor’s degree.
He spoke of his accomplishments at the Geyer Branch saying, “We expanded at a rapid rate over seven years.” Goodger credits his keys to success adding, “We upped the level of professionalism… People are staying.” He added that the arts, which may be “overlooked sometimes,” are crucial to children’s development.
Goodger said that he’s looking forward to working with the team at the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges and South Mountain YMCA “to ensure we’re having the most impact for everyone in our community.” He’s currently in the process of moving from his Blairstown home to the Maplewood area.
“I have a lot of ideas,” Goodger said. “I want to see where we are, and be a resource for my staff.”