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Minot volunteer has heart for youth

May 12, 2008
By JILL SCHRAMM, Staff Writer
For the love of kids, Jay Altringer of Minot has chaired boards, coaxed donations from the community and gotten his hands dirty in manual labor.

It’s all about the kids, he said.

“When my boys were young, I made a commitment that if I was going to be involved and volunteer for certain things, it was going to be youth activities, and I have been involved in a lot of youth activities,” Altringer said.

He’s been chairman of the associations that support swimming and soccer in Minot. But much of his focus has been on the Minot Family YMCA.

Altringer, a Minot native and president of Investors Management & Marketing, joined the Y’s Men’s Club in the late 1970s. He later served as Y’s Men’s Rodeo chairman, Triangle Y Camp chairman and Y’s Men’s Club president.

He recently finished two years of what he calls a “whirlwind” of activity as chairman of the YMCA executive board. During that time, the board began a 90,000-square-foot expansion, scheduled to open in August.

Features for youth in the new addition are a teen workout room and an area for pre-teens that will include youth-sized exercise equipment. There also will be a new play area for young children who outgrow the preschool area. Other general attractions that will appeal to youth are the rock-climbing wall and new gymnasium.

Altringer said from his position as board chairman, he saw many people contribute to the realization of the expansion project.

“Everybody just did their part. When you have so many people believing in the same thing, it makes your job a lot easier,” he said. “That’s one thing I like about the Y board, the Y’s Men and the camp committee. No one individual is worried about credit or recognition. It’s a nice feeling. We are doing it for the kids basically.”

The YMCA also raises $7,000 to $10,000 a year to support participation by youth who otherwise would not be able to afford use of the facility. It gives $8,000 to $12,000 a year in youth scholarships to the Triangle Y Camp near Garrison.

Altringer chaired a fundraising campaign in 2002-03 that raised more than $500,000 for camp improvements that included an Alpine climbing tower and a new building.

“He has an untiring energy,” Roger Mazurek, YMCA executive director, said. “He sees a need here and he addresses it, works through it and finishes it. Jay does not lose focus.”

The proof was the camp capital drive, which not only met its $500,000 goal but exceeded it, he said.

“He knows how important camp is,” camp director Cindy Mueller said. “He’s been a big part of the camp and a big part of the reason it’s as successful as it is.”

Although he never attended camp as a kid, Altringer said as an outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing, he can appreciate what camp means to young people.

Altringer said some of his best times with the camp have been on the weekends spent with other members of the Y’s Men’s Club and Colin Brown Y’s Men’s Club in fixing up the campgrounds.

“We go down and actually do the physical work to get that camp in shape. If it wasn’t for the two groups, it would be hard for that camp,” Altringer said.

Maintaining the camp would cost thousands of dollars if labor and equipment were not donated, he said.

“It also keeps the cost down for all the kids, which is a very good deal for the area and the youth,” he said. “It’s a great experience of mine being able to be down there on a Sunday afternoon and seeing the smiles and the laughter on some of these children’s faces – who wouldn’t have had the opportunity if it wasn’t for the camp and us keeping the cost down.”

Improvements in camp facilities have led to an increase in the number of campers. The YMCA added an extra week of camp last year and another week this year to accommodate the number of camp applicants.

Camp begins after the staff training during Memorial Day weekend and runs through the middle of August. About 120 campers attend each week.

YMCA facilities also are open to day camps throughout the summer. Minot Public School, Minot Air Force Base, day care centers and groups from Bismarck have brought youth to the camp for one-day sessions. On weekends, the camp has hosted weddings, class and family reunions and business-sponsored employee events.

In addition to YMCA fundraising, Altringer has helped the Minot Soccer Association raise money for the field, goals, lights and bleachers at the soccer complex on North Hill.

When his son, Cole, 17, died suddenly from complications of diabetes in July 2003, donations of money and labor went into erecting a multipurpose building at the Minot Optimist Soccer Complex to remember him.

Altringer’s current focus is the YMCA, where he remains a member of the Y’s Men’s Club, Triangle Y Camp Committee and executive board. His interest in the YMCA persists because his enlistment was based on more than being a parent.

“It was for the camp and what it stands for and what the YMCA stands for. When you go to the Y on Saturday and see all these little kids playing basketball, it’s a great feeling,” he said. “I think I will always be involved with the Y. It has a special spot in my heart.”

(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to

Article Photos

Jill Schramm/MDN

A backdrop of scenes from the Triangle Y Camp portrays the interest that Jay Altringer has in ensuring youth activities in the Minot area.

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