YMCA Adventure Guides (and Princess) is a family program designed for a parent and his or her five to nine year old child. In YMCA Adventure Guides, parents lead, influence, and teach while presenting opportunities for children to explore the world around them. They lead by example as they set their children on a path through life.
In the early years, the program is a side-by-side journey before children are launched into more advanced, independent activities. In the YMCA Adventure Guides program, the journey occurs within the context of a small Circle community.
The Circle is the program’s basic group unit, providing a structure, a sense of community, and support for all group activities. Adventure Guides (parents) and Explorers (children) meet in Circles and participate in Expedition adventures (e.g., overnight camping) throughout the year.
- Foster companionship and understanding; set a foundation for positive, lifelong relationships between parent and child.
- Build a sense of self-esteem and personal worth.
- Expand awareness of spirit, mind, and body.
- Provide a framework to meet the mutual needs of parents and children for spending enjoyable, constructive, and quality time together.
- Enhance the quality of family time.
- Emphasize the vital role that a parent plays in the growth and development of a child.
- Offer an important and unique opportunity to develop and enjoy volunteer leadership skills.
The core of the program is Circle meetings and Expedition adventures.
- Circle meetings and gatherings—Circles meet biweekly or monthly in a family home and once a month for Circle adventures.
- Expedition adventures—Periodically, Circles come together for Expedition adventures such as a parade, party, or campout.
- Family-oriented activities—Program activities typically include games, crafts, songs, stories, skits, camping, and family adventures.
Participants are grouped as follows:
- Guide and Explorer—Parent and child pair
- Circle—Group of Guides and Explorers
- Expedition—Group of Circles within a YMCA, often, though not always, grouped by gender (e.g., father-daughter Expeditions, father-son Expeditions)
- Federation—Group of Expeditions within a YMCA association (e.g., the father-son and father-daughter Expeditions together make up a Federation)
The program is run by YMCA staff members and program volunteers. Volunteers are recruited or elected by Circle members and assume a variety of offices and responsibilities for different roles.
The YMCA Adventure Guides program is based heavily on rituals and traditions that bring a sense of continuity, community, intrigue, and magic to the program. These rituals and traditions include those listed here as well as others, depending on each YMCA’s choices.
- Program names
- Circle and Expedition property
- Program attire
- Rites of passage
Naperville, Aurora, Oswego
For more information, contact Polly Rhodes, Adventure Guides Program Coordinator, at 630.527.6599, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://ymcachicago.org/threeowls.