Parent Child Programs of the
The YMCA Parent-Child programs were developed to support parent's vital roles as teachers, counselors, and friends to their children. For over 75 years, these programs have worked to establish strong bonds between fathers and their children through shared events and experiences.
The first program to be established was the Y-Indian Guides program. In 1926, Harold S. Keltner, director of the St. Louis YMCA, organized the first tribe in Richmond Heights, MO, with help of his friend, Joe Friday, of the Ojibway Native American Tribe, and William H. Hefelfinger, chief of the first tribe in the program. The seed of the program was planted by Mr. Friday when he said, "[A Native American 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 his must know, while [western culture] allows the mother to raise his son." This led to the establishment of the program, based on the strong qualities of dignity, patience, endurance, spirituality, harmony with nature, and concern for the family.
In 1951, the first mother-daughter program was established, called Y-Indian Maidens (this program is not currently offered at the North Valley Y). In 1954, the father-child program was extended to include daughters with the establishment of Y-Indian Princesses, for fathers and daughters. In 1980, the Y-Indian Braves program for mothers and sons was established (not currently offered at the North Valley Y).
Programs for older and younger children were also established. In 1969, Y-Trail Blazers was recognized for 9 to 11 year old children and their fathers (originally a father-son program, at North Valley, it is father-child). The Trail Programs offer children nine and over more challenging and varied experiences. Through Trail Programs, the YMCA provides opportunities for families to enjoy themselves, to spend quality time together, and to experience an environment in which parent-child communication and growth can freely take place. Because strong individuals build strong families, Y-Trail Programs are designed to concentrate on the relationship between an individual youth and his or her parents. For many parents and children, participation in Y-Trailblazers will follow participation in Y-Guide/Y-Princesses program, although this is not necessary. Trail Programs focus on strengthening the parent/child teams, with emphasis shifting to the child's skill development, leadership, and accomplishments with the support of the parent.
Similarly, Y-Papooses was established for children who are of pre-school age. In the Y Papoose program, parents and children will meet with other parent-child pairs to share fun and educational activities. This is a joint parent-child experience that is designed to build and strengthen the bonds of love, understanding, and respect. During monthly group meetings, children and parents will participate in storytime, crafts and educational topics. The entire Y Papoose Nation will sponsor monthly events and outings.
In 2001, the YMCA, in deference to cultural sensitivity, began moving the programs away from use of Native American symbols and names, although the underlying wisdom from the Native Americans has been retained. This is a multi-year transition, with the initial changes being the renaming of the main program to Y-Guide and Y-Princesses, and removal of the theme from ceremonies. The next element of the transition will be the renaming of the tribes from the names of real Native American tribes to being named after things found in nature, such as animals, plants, and weather. The terms "tribe" and "nation" will likely remain, as these are generic. It is not yet known how Y-Papooses will be renamed.
Note: The North Valley YMCA also offers the High Adventurers Program, for fathers and their children in 8th to 12th grades. This is an important time when fathers can spend time with their teens and play an important role int heir life. Teens will have the opportunity to plan the details of the activities, write the newsletter and keep other families informed of upcoming events. This program is designed to develop leadership skills, group work, self esteem and self reliance.
The purpose of the Y-Papoose Program is to get an early start on fostering understanding and companionship between parent and child.
We, parent and child, promise to be friendly, helpful, and loving to each other, our family, and our community as we seek a world pleasing to the eye of the Great Spirit.
Kindergarten through Third Grade (3 to 9 years old)
To foster understanding between father and son/daughter.
We, father and son/daughter, through friendly service to each other, to our family, to this tribe, to our community, seek a world pleasing to the eye of the Great Spirit.
Fourth through Sixth Grades, 9 to 11 years old.
The primary purpose for the Trail Blazers Programs are:
"Parent and child, blazing new trails together."
As a Y-Trail Blazer , my pledge is to strengthen the bonds of companionship with my (parent/son/daughter) as we explore our environment, our community, and our lives together, seeking to grow in spiritual, mental, and physical fitness, and in service to others.
The national emblem for the Y-Trail Programs uses the colors red, silver, and yellow to denote the warm understanding, vital sharing, and deep loyalty in the parent/child relationship. The compass with the Y emblem at its center signifies the ideas and aims of the "Four Trails" toward which the parent/child companionship experience is directed: Wisdom, Physical Health, Spiritual Growth, and Service. The border enveloping the compass portrays the power and the bonds of family support that strengthen its individual members. Participants in the programs experience the fun and excitement of exploring new worlds of interest in a spirit of adventure.
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