South Mountain YMCA Associate Executive Director Eric Stoddard drove many of the Y’s ambitious efforts in 2016. Enrollment in camp and after-school care soared. The Y launched a range of new offerings and expanded into new spaces. Two major events, the Y’s Healthy Kids Day and the Memorial Day Duck Race, broke records.

“Eric played a huge role in new directions the Y went in, thinking outside the box and our facility, and giving tremendous support to the staff,” South Mountain YMCA Executive Director James Goodger said.

Stoddard received the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges’ Rudolph N. Hawkins Staff Member of the Year Award at the Metro YMCA’s 40th annual recognition dinner, held April 5 at the Hanover Manor in East Hanover. More than 200 people attended. South Mountain YMCA, one of six branches of the Metro YMCA, was named Branch of the Year (read more about that here).

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“Eric embraces change, and is always thinking how to make things better” said Edward G. Philipp, the Metro Y’s senior vice president/chief operating officer. “In 2016, he was able to make a lot happen at the branch, all while raising two young children of his own.”

Stoddard was quick to share credit with Goodger and the rest of the Y staff. “James has ignited excitement, passion and creativity since he arrived, that has trickled into all the programs,” Stoddard said. “We had such a great year, because we were all thinking outside the box.”

Camp enrollment increased 12.5 percent, as the Y widened its offerings and improved operations under Stoddard’s guidance, Goodger said. Throughout the off-camp season, Stoddard coordinated bimonthly camp meetings at which staff generated ideas and shared best practices, Goodger said. The Y launched Camps CHANGE Lives, a program that introduces children to philanthropy and increases their vocabulary in words that are commonly used and can change depending on context.

The Y launched a range of new offerings, including the Family Room, which encourages parents and children to spend time together; classes in skateboarding and toddler bicycling; and a theater program at the Montrose School in South Orange. Stoddard arranged for a new “Build It” camp to take place this summer at The Woodland, a historic site owned by Maplewood.

Because the Y has limited space, the Y invested in “traveling circus” supplies like giant building blocks and an inflatable pit for Gaga, a gentler version of dodgeball, so the fun can be enjoyed at community events and the Y’s after-school programs, Stoddard said.

Stoddard joined the South Mountain YMCA as senior program director in 2013. A lifelong athlete, he made the national bobsled team in 2003 and won the national championship in the two-man competition as the youngest bobsled athlete on the world cup circuit in 2004. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a mater’s degree in school counseling from St. John’s University in New York City. Stoddard and his wife, Julia, live in Mountainside with their 3-year-old son, Wyatt, and 21-month-old daughter, Hudson.