Why Does YMCA Adventure Guides Exist? During their elementary school years, children learn rapidly, becoming much more aware of the world around them. 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.
Who Participates in YMCA Adventure Guides? YMCA Adventure Guides is designed for fathers (or other significant adults in the children's lives) and their children ages 5 through 10. An adult and child must attend program activities together. In YMCA Adventure Guides, the parent is the Guide, and the child is the Explorer or Princess.
What do YMCA Adventure Guides Participants do? The YMCA groups of father-child pairs into "Circles" that meet on a regular basis, usually bi-monthly or monthly. These outings are called Expeditions or Events. The core of the YMCA Adventure Guides program is these Circle and Expedition meetings and adventures.
Typical activities include ceremonies, games, crafts, songs, stories, skits, and outdoor pursuits such as camping, hiking, and swimming. Events are on weekends, and usually on Sunday afternoons.
What are the Adventure Guides Compass Points? The program focus is on the adventures of a father and child and of their Circles 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, the Circle.
- 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 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.