History

Around a simple campfire in 1026, two men engaged in a deep conversation about the spiritual relationship between father and son.   Joe Friday, an Ojibwa Indian, and his friend Harold Keltner, a YMCA director in St. Louis, reflected carefully on the events of history and the effect on the integrity of the family and quality of life.  Friday described the active role Native American father’s play in teaching his child the skills
needed to thrive and the meaning and purpose of life.  This was different from Friday’s perception of how “white man’s son” was raised by the mother.  Inspired by his friendship with Joe Friday, Harold Keltner created a new YMCA program focused on father-son relationships and the strong qualities of dignity, patience, endurance, spirituality, feeling for the earth, and concern for the family.
As the program grew and spread across the country in the 1950’s, it became known as the Indian Guides program.  Around WWII, the genuine need for supporting girls in their personal growth became more apparent.  Mother-daughter programs and father-daughter programs were established.    In 2003, to respect the wishes of the Native American community, the program name and emphasis was updated to the YMCA Adventure Guides program but strives to capture the intent and magic of the original program.

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