Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adventure Guides

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-aglogo
Before the beginning of this school year, my daughter and I joined an organization named the “YMCA adventure guides and princesses”.  You may remember this program by its old name “Indian guides and princesses”.  This program is essentially boy scouts for dads and daughters and has grown to include fathers and sons as well.  It is a WONDERFUL opportunity to draw each father and daughter closer as well as an opportunity to meet other dads who share your desire to be a part of their child’s life.
Our YMCA nation is a member of a “federation” made up of Adventure Guide programs at other local YMCAs and our “nation” is divided into three smaller “circles” (one son and two daughter circles).  Each circle meets twice a month and the nation meets once a month for a large event. The nation events earn each father and child a patch for them to affix to their vest and each circle meeting consists of an opening\closing ceremony and a craft.
I will try and resist the urge to be dramatic here but in the short time we have been members, the Adventure Guide program has touched my daughter and my life\relationship in ways we never thought possible.  So far this year, my daughter and I have been present for two nation events and have had such a good time that I almost get misty when I try and recount all the special moments.

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-father and daughter
The first was a wonderful opportunity to volunteer at a children’s home that we learned was near our house.  The attitude of the children and adults at this home was inspiring and the hard work we put in to fix up the place was truly appreciated. My child got to see firsthand how lucky she is and we both had a great time playing with all of the residents there. The residents turned out to be very genuine, not caught up in the “I’m a teenager attitude” and (very surprisingly) had not a hint of a chip on their shoulder.  We were proud to support the excellent work being done at this location.

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Father and Daughter 2
The second nation event was this past weekend and I am literally still smiling from the fun time we had. This activity was a campout at our local YMCA Camp Carter on Lake Worth.  There are almost enough “firsts” for my daughter to write a book but the list includes first:
  • Campout
  • Bunk bed
  • Burning things in the camp fire
  • Canoeing (for both of us)
  • BB gun range
  • Archery
  • Horseback riding
  • Night fishing
  • Sleeping on the “daughter” side of the cabin away from dad
  • Participation in a skit
  • Bonfire
  • S’mores
And the list goes on.

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-BB Gun Range

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Bonfire

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Catfish

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Horses

Dad and daughter activities: Adventure Guides-Torch

My daughter isn’t the only one who got to do these activities. Good old dad was right by her side and got to see every smile and experience every laugh first hand. The entire experience was priceless!
Watching my daughter play with the other girls took away almost all the fears I had about whether or not my wife and I were doing a good job in parenting.  She was “with” me but also had enough freedom in such a safe location for me to see what she was like without my correcting every wrong decision or fixing every misunderstanding. I could really get a sense of what she is like when I am not around without having to worry if she was safe.  After all, if she got out-of-line while she was out-of-sight, I had a father backup up force that was 25 dads strong.
All of the kids in our nation are polite, well intentioned, inclusive and so very comfortable to be around. My “only child” daughter just fell into place with this gaggle of 25 children leaving me and the other fathers with a little quite time to watch them interact. It was such a wonderful mix of structured and unstructured “together” time along with some good old fashioned camp fun.
I don’t remember seeing one father without a daughter or son holding their hand or having an arm on each other’s shoulder all weekend.  The motto of the Adventure Guides is “Friends forever” and it has certainly given both the dads and the children a jumpstart on that journey.
Best joke from the adventure guide campout:
How do you wake up Lady Gaga?
Poke her face!

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