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P.G. YMCA Adventure Guides
Bowie, Maryland

Who are We?

In today’s world, a child and a parent rarely have time together; to laugh, to talk, to become friends, and to learn about each other.  But this was realized long ago in the 1920's by Harold Keltner, a St. Louis YMCA director.  He started a father-son program with help from an Ojibway Indian hunting guide named Joe Friday.  The program was based on Native American qualities of culture and life; Dignity, Patience, Endurance, Spirituality, Feelings for the Earth, and Concern for the Family.  Thus was created the first Y-Indian Guide program.

A new direction in parent-child programming  is beginning at the YMCA.  This life-changing program is an enhanced and updated version of the  Indian Guides and Princesses program that has been practiced for the last 77 years. The time-honored parent-child program has helped us celebrate family, nature, community, and plain old-fashioned fun that will continue in our new journey.

With the symbolic compass of its new logo, YMCA Adventure Guides offers new directions to rituals, routines, group meetings and activities, outings and overnight camping.  The program is structured so that one parent spends time with his or her 5-to-12 year-old child, building a relationship that is sure to make them “friends forever”.

A New Direction:

Life is a journey.  The journey anticipates challenges and choices.  Along the way are significant guides.  The journey begins within the sacred circle of family.  Parents serve as primary guides to help children navigate known obstacles.  Parents entrust their children to other significant guides.  It is an expedition for the ages.  In the YMCA, we believe that if we build strong communities that nurture and strengthen families, then children will start early and finish strong.  This has been our legacy, and now it will be imbedded in a new direction: YMCA Adventure Guides

Two mottoes are given to us from the traditions of the past: Pals Forever and Friends Always.  We go forward with a new motto uniting them:      Friends Forever.


Adventure Guides
To foster understanding and companionship between Parent and Child.
"Friends Forever"
  • To be clean in body and pure in heart
  • To be pals forever with my father/daughter
  • To love the sacred circle of my family
  • To listen while others speak
  • To love my neighbor as myself
  • To seek and preserve the beauty of the Creator's work in forest, field, and stream
"We, Adventure Guides and Explorers, through friendly service to each other, to our family,
to this circle, to our community, seek a world pleasing to the eye of the 
Our Creator"


You and you child, together with other parent/child pairs, will join or form a “circle” and monthly federation events.

The parent-child pair will join one of many circles” in the Bowie area.   Each circle sets its own schedule and agenda to accommodate the busiest of families.  Circles usually twice per month in a member’s house to conduct a meeting and do a planned activity.  In their meetings, “circle” members enjoy making crafts, storytelling, games and snacks, and making new friends.


When several circles exist, they form a Expedition.  These expeditions participate in Federation Events that are planned throughout the year so that all circles can participate together in a variety of activities and outings; such as campouts, canoeing, horseback riding, BaySox game, sleepover at the Y, Miniature Golf, Pancake Breakfast, etc..   Family members of Guides and Explorers are welcome at many of the Federation events.

The Circle Meeting

Meetings are held in the homes of members on a rotation basis.   A typical circle meeting includes the following:

  • Ceremonies such as opening and closing rituals. 
  • Activities such as crafts, stories, Folk lore, games, songs, and service projects.
  • Refreshments provided by the host family.
Circle meetings start and end on time and generally do not last longer than 1-1/2 hours.  Business and planning activities are kept to a minimum, as these can be taken care of at other times.

Activities are planned that are easy for both children and parents to understand.  Parent-child pairs work as a team whenever possible.  They discuss activities and experiences, as well as crafts, as part of the circle meetings.  Refreshments are served prior to the closing ceremony, which is the official ending of the meeting.