ADVENTURE GUIDES PROGRAM
Among the oldest family programs in the YMCA, YMCA parent-child programs have lasted and grown over the years because they offer families a unique opportunity. One parent and child spend time together on their own, sharing experiences that lead to a better understanding of each other and a closer relationship. They participate in the program within the context of a small community. Parents guide their children through a wide array of experiences aimed at helping children reach their full potential. And parents grow, too. The bond they develop with their children is sure to last a lifetime. The leadership skill they acquire and the friends they make create lasting memories. Testimonials shared by program participants continually reinforce the value of this program, now known as the YMCA Adventure Guides.
A LOOK BACK IN TIME
Around a simple campfire, two men engaged in deep conversation, reflecting carefully on the events of history and how they were affecting the integrity of the family and quality of life. It was 1926, a time of great fascination with the culture and a way of life of American Indians. Joe Friday, and Ojibwa Indian, told his friend Harold Keltner, a YMCA director in St. Louis, about the spiritual relationship of father and son in his culture. Friday described the father's active role in the rites of passage for the young son, as both became friends forever. Keltner was exhilarated by the discussion and felt he had received a wonderful gift.
Inspired by his friendship with Joe Friday, Harold Keltner created a new YMCA program and gave birth to a remarkable tradition. The father-son program spread like wildfire across the nation in the 1950s and became known as the Y-Indian Guide program. As years passed, the program evolved. Today, YMCA Adventure Guides captures the intent and magic of the original program-a deepening bond between parent and a child.
THE MAGIC OF CIRCLES
Sir Isaac Newton's notion, "if we can see farther today, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us," continues to ring true in present times. Through their vision Keltner and Friday gave us a treasured gift that has become a tradition and that has shaped the 20th-century concept of family for millions of members since 1926.
Today, as never before, the Information Agee provides for immediate access to search for ties to our villages of origin. Societal shifts of the past, influenced by religious teachings, new economies, and social values, have disconnected most in the New World from their tribes and villages of origin. Yet the child is all of us remains fascinated with the magic, the allure, and the enhancement of belonging to a closely-knit, dependent group of individuals such as a tribe.
We have been enchanted and guided by the way of life embraced by legends, popular myths, and true stories of North American First Nations. These stories have taught us the fundamental values of belonging to family, responsibilities to the tribe, strong leadership roles played by both men and woman, and respect for our life. The voice of Joe Friday encourages us to respect the cultures of Native Americans by investing our time and resources to rediscover and respect our own roots in order to expand involvement in YMCA parent-child programs.
For years, all members of the Y-Indian Guide program belonged to a tribe. Today, we substitute the concept of Circle to describe the grouping of parents and children. The word “circle” conjures up much of the same connection, dedication, devotion, and interdependence as does the word “tribe.” The Circle is our basic group unit and provides the structure for our sense of community, for supporting the members of the Circle, and for all group activities.
Belonging to a Circle is a transforming experience that speaks to the human need for community and extends the sacred circle of our family. Belonging to a Circle honors all the resources entrusted to us, including our families origin, the land where we live today, and our responsibility to those who will follow us in the future.
All people can trace their ancestry to ethnic roots that extend from the North American continents of the inhabited world. As we join a Circle community today, we are offered the opportunity to explore and discover the ways of our ancestors as well. By sharing our heritage and our roots between parent and child, and within our YMCA Circle, we gain appreciation for the traditions and beliefs of all people.
Leadership of the Circle is shared among parents in many roles, including caregiver, community leader, boundary-setter, spiritual leader, teacher, and companion and friend. Children get to experience these roles as well and grow in the process.
Circles agree on the ground rules for behavior and expectations for shared responsibilities. Circles create a “ritual space” that captures the imagination of the child as Circle members gather. Circles become a place where parents and children have permission to become what we want to be always our father and mother, and sons and daughters…Friends Forever.
Each Circle creates a unique identity and name and develops a sense of community recognizing the depth, strengths, weaknesses, and unique capacities of each member. Circle members share responsibility to achieve goals for the common good and engage their diversity of individual talents and skills to do so. Care and affection take place spontaneously. Reflection on individual and community experiences gives members knowledge about truth, relationships, and future direction; activities incorporate celebration, parties, and social events.
The Circle is a place for telling the stories of life. Stories come from all ancient peoples of the world, our own folklore, and our own experience. Discovering ourselves through imaginative storytelling is fascinating for children; it is a thrill for them when it is their own parent’s turn to tell such a story to the Circle.
The journey of the Circle community continues as children see, hear, and share truths that are ever present in our lives in this world. Children listen. They move from imagination to application.
THE PARENT AS A GUIDE
In the YMCA Adventure Guides program, a parent serves as a guide in a child’s life. Parents lead, direct, supervise, influence, and teach while presenting opportunities for children to explore the world around them. The program focuses on skills, values, habits, and fun. Parent participates (Guides) use the program Compass Points (family, nature, community, fun, and character-development values) to provide a focus or sense of direction to this role. The YMCA Adventurer Guides program supports the vital role parent splay as teachers, counselors, and friends. In this program, parents lead by example as they set their children (Explorers) on a path through life. In the early years, the journey is taken side by side; eventually, children are launched into more advanced, independent activities. In the YMCA Adventure Guides program, the journey happens within the context of small Circle Communities.
Throughout the program you will references to the term “parents” which we define broadly to include all adults with primary responsibility for raising children. These include biological parents, adoptive parents, guardians, stepparents, grandparents raising children, or any other type of parenting relationship. All are welcome and encouraged to be guides in raising children for whom they are responsible or to whom they’ve committed to being a good adult role model.
THE VALUE OF THE GROUP EXPIRIENCE
Although the YMCA Adventure Guides program focuses on parents and children, the value of the group exigencies (within small Circles or larger Expeditions) is noteworthy. Being involved in a group and engaged in group work has many benefits. Parents and children learn from each other and about each other; parents and children learn about other families; and finally, parents and children learn from other families. The output of the leadership, problem-solving, and group-work skills children and parents acquire, along with a sense of a commitment to a larger community, reinforce the YMCA pledge of building strong kids, strong families, and strong communities.
THE DEVELOPMENT ASSETS
The immediate gains of the parent-child program are obvious-you’ll enjoy spending time with and getting to know your son or daughter at a deeper level-but the long-term gains are significant. You will build a solid foundation for a relationship that will likely result in your being friends forever with your child. You will also help to build and develop a set of assets and patterns that your children (and other Circle members) will carry with them into adolescence and adulthood.
Development assets, a term coined and researched by the Search Institute of Minneapolis, Minnesota are the 40 essential building blocks that children and teenagers need as a foundation for growing up to be healthy and productive. YMCAs across the country have adopted these assets, and they provide a focus for YMCA programs, including YMCA Adventure Guides.
Research shows that acquiring more developmental assets helps children and teenagers
· Cope and adapt when difficult things happen;
· Choose not to get involved in many different high-risk behaviors, such as alcohol and other drug use, violence, and premature sexual activity; and
· Develop the attitudes, skills, and abilities they need to be good friends, family members, citizens, workers, leaders, and contributors to society.
A focus on building assets helps families with children and teenagers
· Set priorities for how they spend their time together,
· Focus on building strengths before problems arise, and
· Remember to pay attention to many different areas of a child’s growth.
When adults of all ages get involved in asset building, they
· Develop new and lasting friendships with young people,
· Do something positive to address their interests and concerns about their community, and
· Leave a positive mark on their lives of kids and in their community.
In Friends Forever, you’ll find many examples of how the YMCA Adventurer Guides program structure and activities help you build the development assets your child needs.
This is an unofficial site for the Birmingham YMCA Adventure Princess & Guides program. It does not necessarily address or reflect the views or opinions of the YMCA. It was created solely for the purpose of promoting and communicating with the Hunter Princess Expedition's members. Although we occasionally attempt to verify the contents of this site, accuracy cannot be guaranteed.