Adventure Guides


What is Adventure Guides?

Adventure Guides is a YMCA program that helps to foster the father/child relationship to create lifelong meaningful memories. YMCA father-child programs are purposefully designed to accompany the parent and child on this journey of discovery. While we do not dispute the importance of whole family activity, we see tremendous value in supporting and strengthening the ability of father and child to communicate at an early age in ways that are respectful, responsible, honest, and caring. We seek to encourage you as a parent to get to know your kid while your kid is still a kid.

The Adventure Guides program will work to…

  • foster companionship, understanding and set a foundation for positive, lifelong relationships between father and child
  • build a sense of self-esteem and personal worth
  • expand awareness of body, mind, and spirit
  • provide a framework to meet a mutual need of spending enjoyable, constructive, and quality time together
  • enhance the quality of family time
  • emphasize the vital role that parents play in the growth and development of their children
  • enable your family to meet other families with children of the same age

What is a tribe and what are the obligations?

Tribes are a group of friends and their fathers. Typically they are composed of seven to ten father/child pairs. Most tribes meet about twice a month.  The guide (tribe leader) plans a monthly meeting at someone’s home and the YMCA Adventure Guide Director plans multiple, fun activities throughout the year as well.

Who joins a tribe?

Adventure Guides is for boys and girls in rising grades kindergarten – 4th grade (approximately ages 5-9) and their fathers or a meaningful male role model in their life.

Upon reaching fourth grade, daughters and sons may continue in our Trailblazers Program. Tribes are encouraged to meet at least once a quarter and participate in group outings through the year.

How do I join a tribe?

There are two ways to join. One you bring your own tribe by gathering a group of friends from school, church, sports or the neighborhood. The other way is to contact the program director by calling 336.983.3131 or by emailing her here and letting him know that you and your child(ren) are interested in joining an adventure guide tribe.

If you have a tribe ready to go, click here to complete the registration form or to register online, click here.

Remember that your child may be spending the next three or more years with these children. Include your child in the process by asking them who they really like spending time with. Tribes work best when the numbers are between six to nine pairs of dads/kids.

What does it cost?

Adventure Guides is set up as a one-time cost of $40, then varied costs for the additional weekend activities. Financial aid is available to those who need it. Please email us to inquire.

Photo Gallery

Coming soon

Become a Guide

By volunteering with the Adventure Guides program you and your child become part of a team committed to fun, fellowship and making a positive difference in the lives of others through the Long Bow Council.

Social responsibility is a core component of our Adventure Guides program. With social responsibility comes generosity and caring toward others.

Adventure Guides Registration Checklist

Connect With Us

Have more questions?

Carmina Eder, or (336) 983-3131


The Y-Indian Guide Program was developed in a deliberate way to support the father’s vital role as teacher, counselor and friend to his son. The program was initiated by Harold S. Keltner, Director of the YMCA in St. Louis.  In 1926 he organized the first tribe in Richmond Heights, Missouri, with the help of his friend, Joe Friday, an Ojibway Indian, and William H. Hefelfinger, chief of the first Y-Indian Guide tribe. Inspired by his experiences with Joe Friday, who was his guide on fishing and hunting trips into Canada, Harold Keltner initiated a program of father/son experiences that came to involve fathers and sons throughout the United States.

While Keltner was on a hunting trip in Canada his friend, Joe Friday, said to him as they sat around the campfire one evening, “The Indian father raises his son.  He teaches his son to hunt, to track, to fish, to walk softly and silently in the forest, to know the meaning and purpose of life and all he must know, while the white man allows the mother to raise his son.” These comments struck home, and Harold Keltner arranged for Joe Friday to work with him at the St. Louis YMCA.

The Ojibway Indian spoke before groups of YMCA boys and dads in  St. Louis, and Mr. Keltner discovered that fathers as well as boys had a keen interest in the traditions and ways of Native Americans. At the same time, being greatly influenced by the work of Ernest Thompson Seton, great lover of the out-of-doors, Harold Keltner conceived the  idea of a father-and-son program based on the strong qualities of American Indian culture and life, which involved dignity, patience, endurance, spirituality, feeling for the earth and concern for the  family. In 1926, he organized the first tribe of Y-Indian Guides in Richmond Heights, Missouri.

After World War II, the rise in YMCAs that served the whole family, the need for supporting young girls in their personal growth, and the demonstrated success of the father/son program nurtured the development of the father/daughter program. The first Y-Indian Princesses were formed in the Fresno, California YMCA in 1954. It enabled fathers and their daughters to participate together in a variety of activities that nurtured mutual understanding, love and respect. Today, as then, the Princess Program affords an unusual opportunity for the concerned and busy father to facilitate growth in a daughter’s development and an understanding of the world around her. The father’s role helps her in developing self-esteem, confidence in her peers, and appreciation for the differences in people and families. The inter-relationships of humor and discipline, love and anger, and successes and failures bode well for the continuing development of  father and daughter o father and son.

For 75 years, the Y-Indian Guide program was the cornerstone for family programs in YMCAs across the country. Though Harold Keltner died in the summer of 1986, his presence is felt today, and he will continue to affect the lives of fathers and children for years to come.

But it is a different world today than it was in 1926. Native Americans and other citizens expressed concern over program participants adopting the Indian culture and teaching children about Native American life in ways they deemed inaccurate or stereotypical. The YMCA is committed to being a caring, honest, respectful, and responsible organization. Changing diverse family structures; and an evolving cultural sensitivity and better understanding of Native American history all prompted YMCAs across the country to re-evaluate their father/child programs.

net-butterfly-girlAdventure Guide Emerges

In September 2001, the board of directors of the National Council of YMCAs (also known as the YMCA of the USA) accepted recommendations from a task force made up of national staff and CEOs of member associations (local Ys) to change the name and thoroughly review the Y-Indian Guides program. They further instructed YMCA of the USA to make the revisions necessary to keep this program relevant and focused on what matters most: the program’s purpose, which is to “foster the father/child relationship.” YMCA of the USA enlisted the help of YMCA staff and volunteers nationwide to craft an alternative program. YMCA Adventure Guides is the result of a two-year research and development process.

The Adventure Guides program has been at the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina for at least 30 years. The program started out like all others as Y-Indian Guides and Y-Indian Princesses, and was known as the “Saura Nation.” It was changed in 2005 to Adventure Guides and the “Forsyth Federation,” having the term “Adventure Guides” pertaining to both the boys and girls.

The YMCA of the USA allows customization of the Adventure Guides model so that each Association can adopt and personalize their program to meet the needs of the community. And so it is with the Adventure Guides of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina.

In 2009, due to the history of the program and the expanding geographic area, the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina Adventure Guides program covers, the “Forsyth Federation” officially changed back to the “Saura Nation.” Our program mixes both the old traditions of the Y-Indian Guides and Princesses programs with the new Adventure Guides model. By honoring traditions and being respectful to the beliefs of all people, the Adventure Guides program of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina continues to blaze a path forward into the new millennium.

1st-4th Year Tribes

We encourage you to look at the program through the eyes of your child and realize that the time you spend with him orboy-frog her during these years, will be cherished forever. Below is a description of each year’s focus, first through third grades.

First Year: The Adventure Begins

  • Father and child spend time together completing the requirements to earn feather patches for the Y Guides first-year awards.
  • Although we encourage you to earn these patches, remember they are avenues for you to spend more time together, and we cannot over emphasize the importance of doing things together.
  • Get ready for fun, discovery and most importantly, to become Pals Forever and Friends Always.
  • An arrowhead is awarded to those who earn all of their first-year feather awards. They will be recognized during the dinner at the first-year Spring Outing.

Second Year: Working Together

  • Your child has an expectation of the same energy and experience of the first year.
  • The feather patch award activities are a little more involved and exciting for the tribe.
  • One thing that can enhance the experience is for you and your child to pick a couple of projects that are of high interest. You can put an extra effort into making them more impressive than the others.
  • Many schedule time to make their Tribe’s totem pole during this year and if you attend Fall Outing at Camp Kanata, you can make a torch.
  • An arrowhead is awarded to those who earn all of their second year feather awards. They will be recognized during the dinner at the second year Spring Outing.

Third and Fourth Year: Service to the Community

  • During this year, your feather awards are focused on the community and giving back.
  • Just as in the years before, these activities will have purpose and help create and inspire involved young leaders.
  • One additional topic with third years is the option of building a raft for the raft race at Spring Outing.
  • An arrowhead is awarded to those who earn all of their third year feather awards. They will be recognized during the dinner at the third year Spring Outing.
  • An eagle claw is awarded to those who have earned all of their feathers and totem pole pieces for all three years of the program. They will be recognized during the dinner at the third year Spring Outing.