YMCA Adventure Guides is a program offered in YMCAs across the country designed to strengthen the relationship between a parent and a child. Included here is detailed description of the program purpose and elements.
During their elementary school years, children learn rapidly, becoming much more aware of the world around them. They begin to see things differently and ask questions about who they are, where they came from, and why things are as they are. During this time, children tend to see their parents as guides, teachers, and heroes. They start to understand that parents protect and nurture them. Ideally, during this period, we learn how to talk with our children more than at them. A strong relationship is based on our ability to ask open-ended questions that help our children think and move beyond simple yes or no responses. During these years, we strive to invite our children to accept challenges and opportunities, celebrate accomplishments, and face fears.
We have designed the YMCA Adventure Guides program to assist you and your child on your journey of discovery. While activities with the whole family are important, we see tremendous value in supporting and strengthening the ability of a parent and his or her child to communicate at an early age in ways that are caring, honest, respectful, and responsible. We seek to encourage you as a parent to "get to know your kid while your kid is still a kid."
For these reasons, we have designed the program for one parent and one child to participate together for most activities. If this dynamic is not practical for your family or others in your group, be flexible and work with your YMCA leaders to develop a structure within the program that works for you.
Your local YMCA will assign you to a small group of parent-child pairs called a Tribe who meet on a regular basis in each others' homes, usually biweekly or monthly. Occasionally, several Tribes come together to participate in larger activities such as campouts, parties, or parades. These outings are called Expeditions. The core of the YMCA Adventure Guides program is these Tribe and Expedition meetings and adventures. Typical activities include ceremonies, games, crafts, songs, stories, skits, and outdoor pursuits such as camping, hiking, and swimming.
The program focus is the adventures of a parent and child and of their Tribes and Expeditions. At the forefront of the program are the Compass Points, which give members a sense of direction and an inspiration for activities. These points are broad enough in scope to allow for variety and creativity in designing activities.
The four main direction points on the compass are the essential components of the program.
* The Family is True North-the focal point of the program.
* Nature and the camping experience are integral parts of the program.
* The spirit of the program is experienced through belonging to a small Community, called a Tribe.
* Fun is the magic of the program.
The YMCA Core Values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility make up the other directional points. Along the journey, adults should model, teach, and demonstrate these values as well as give children many opportunities to practice and celebrate them. Adults should also point out and discuss with children any behavior that is inconsistent with these values. Initially, these four values provide guidance in helping children select activities, make decisions, and choose appropriate courses of action-both in the program and in their lives. As children grow, these values become their own internal compass.
The Compass Points allow you and your Tribe members to personalize rituals, activities, and events. You can develop Compass Point activities relevant to your own town and your own common experiences. For example, a group in Texas may build a theme around Texas explorers and pioneers, while a group on the coast may use a scuba or water exploration theme. In each case family, fun, nature, and community might take on a slightly different meaning.
We designed YMCA Adventure Guides for parents or other significant adults in children's lives and their children ages five through nine. (Some YMCAs also have programs for children younger than five to give children an earlier start in the program.) An adult and child must attend program activities together as a pair. In YMCA Adventure Guides, the parent is the Guide, and the child is the Explorer. Typically, YMCA Adventure Guides programs appeal most to fathers and sons or fathers and daughters, although some YMCAs have had success with mother-son or mother-daughter programs.