YMCA of Central Ohio
Y-Tribes Program Handbook
The father and son Y-Indian Guide program was developed in 1926 to
support the father’s vital family role as teacher, counselor,
and friend to his son. Harold S. Keltner, a YMCA director in St. Louis,
initiated this program around a blazing campfire while he was on a
hunting trip in Canada with his friend, Joe Friday, an Ojibwa Indian.
Friday told him, “The Indian father raises his son. He
teaches his son to hunt, track, and fish, walk softly and silently in
the forest, know the meaning and purpose of life and all he must know,
while the white man allows the mother to raise his son.”
These words struck a chord for Keltner, and he arranged for Joe Friday
to work with him at the St. Louis YMCA.
Harold Keltner conceived the idea of a father and son program based
upon the strong qualities of America Indian culture and life - dignity,
patience, endurance, spirituality, feeling for the earth, and concern
for the family. Thus, the Y-Indian Guide Program was born half a
Over time, other programs were created: the mother-daughter program
called Y-Indian Maidens; the father-daughter program called Y-Indian
Princesses; and the mother-son program called Y-Indian Braves.
Over the past ten years, many YMCA's
have moved away from the Native
American theme realizing that this would be the ultimate way to respect
the culture by continuing to educate youth but not to emulate the
culture and traditions. In 2004, the National YMCA formally retired the
Y-Indian Guides program. The YMCA of central Ohio has developed the
Y-Tribes program, based on the similar Los Angeles YMCA Tribes program.
In the future, it is hoped that expansion of YMCA parent-child groups
will continue as a positive force in strengthening family life.
What is the YMCA Y-Tribes
In a YMCA Y-Tribes program, the parent serves as a guide in a child's
life. Parents lead, direct, supervise, influence and teach while
presenting opportunities for children to explore the world around them.
They lead by example as they set their children on a path through life.
The program is a side-by-side journey in the early years. As the
children grow up, they participate in more advanced, independent
activities. In the YMCA Y-Tribes program, the journey happens within
the context of a small community called a Tribe. The Tribe is the
program's basic group unit, providing structure, a sense of community,
and support for all members of the group.
Throughout this manual, you'll see many references to the term
"parents". We define the term broadly to include all adults with
primary responsibility for raising children. These include parents,
guardians, step-parents, foster parents, grandparents or others raising
children. The YMCA of the USA and the YMCA Central Ohio have commitment
to families. We are dedicated to providing a variety of programs and
activities so that people may achieve their greatest potential in
spirit, mind and body.
Structure of YMCA Y-Tribes
Purpose of the Y-Tribes
The purpose of the Y-Tribes Guides program is to foster the
understanding and companionship of Parent and Child. It is open to
fathers and sons ages Kindergarten through third grade.
- To be clean in body and pure
- To be "Friends Forever" with
- To love the sacred circle of
- To be attentive while others
- To love my neighbor as
- To seek and preserve the
beauty of the Creator's work in forest, field,
"We father and son through friendly service to each other, to our
family, to this tribe, and to our community, seek a world pleasing to
the eye of the Creator".
- Foster companionship and
understanding between parents and their
children and build a foundation for positive lifelong relationships.
- Enhance a child and parent's
sense of self-esteem and personal worth.
- Expand a child and parent's
awareness of spirit, mind and body.
- Provide the framework for
parents and children to meet a mutual need of
spending fun, constructive and quality time together.
- Enhance the quality of
- Emphasize the vital role
that parents play in the growth and
development of their children.
- Offer parents an important
and special opportunity to develop and enjoy
volunteer leadership skills.
- Provide productive and
creative use of both YMCA professional staff and
volunteer leaders in directing the program.
Each Tribe is different and each Tribe will have its own traditions. It
will take time to develop those traditions that make each Tribe special
to the Council. However, every Tribe should abide by the following YMCA
T-Tribes program requirements:
should be of
varying ages and interests.
This is important
because Tribe members will teach and learn from each other while they
share the traditions of Y-Tribes throughout their years in the program.
Also, if all the children are the same age, they will graduate at the
same time and wipe out an entire Tribe for the Council. Thereby,
erasing all the traditions the Tribe practiced.
- The Tribe
should be a
manageable size. This will
allow for proper
communication and development among the members of the Tribe, and for
the development of close bonds between the parent and child. The YMCA
suggests a Tribe have at a minimum of five Cabins with a rough maximum
of ten Cabins.
- Cabins share
a common bond.
Meaning, the Tribe has been formed with
several things in mind; the geographical location of other Cabins; the
interests of all the parents and child are similar; there is varying
ages within the Tribe, etc.
- Each Cabin
will develop a
nickname for both parent and child.
the nickname is theme related. Either the Y-Tribes program theme or the
theme of the Council. The Y-Tribe theme is generally an Earth-based
theme, revolving around nature and animals.
Y-Tribe Program Activities
Each tribe has one or more tribal activities a month, at least one of
which is a tribal meeting. The others may be either meetings or outside
activities. Several times a year large intertribal events (such as
campouts, canoeing, horseback riding, ice skating, pinewood derby,
etc.) are also held.
The Tribal Meeting
Meetings are held in the homes of members on a rotating basis. A
typical tribal meeting includes the following:
Activities should be easy for both children and adults to understand.
Parent-child pairs should work as a team whenever possible.
Refreshments are served prior to the closing prayer, which is the
official end of the meeting. Parents and children sit together during
refreshments as well as during the rest of the meeting to avoid break
the tribe up into separate groups of parents and children.
- Ceremonies such as opening
and closing rituals
- Activities such as crafts,
stories, games, and service projects
- Refreshments provided by the
A Typical Tribal Meeting
- Chief calls meeting to order
by asking the host child to beat the
tribal drum once for each cabin (parent-child team) present.
- Chief leads the group in
reciting of the Pledge
- Chief leads the group in
reciting the Aims
- Tribal dues are collected;
each guide introduces himself and father
(using Y-Tribes nicknames) and explains how he obtained the
(how he helped his family)
- Chief announces any upcoming
intertribal events, YMCA news, and so
forth. Plans are review for next meeting (who will host)
- Tribe makes a craft or plays
- Host serves light
- Chief leads closing prayer
- Meeting ends
Tribe gathers in a circle ...
May the spirit of this council ...
And the spirit of friendship ...
Be with you ...
pointing toward the ground)
(finger circling up, imitating smoke)
(arms stretched out)
(finger pointed across circle)
(action of shooting a bow & arrow)
Y-Tribes Guides Program
Throughout the Y-Tribes program, patches are given to reward
participation and effort in the program activities. These patches are
displayed on vests that are worn to all program activities
The first patch shown on the front page is the official Y-Tribes logo
for the YMCA of Central Ohio. Within the logo are a few hidden features:
Y-Tribes Guides Patch
- There are two hidden "F's"
beside the Y for our slogan of "Friends
Forever" (meaning between parent and child you will forever be friends)
- There is both a child and
parent displayed by the circles of each
- A "Y" made from the child's
arms reaching for the "T" made from the
parents' arms - also for Y-Tribes.
- A circle within a circle
demonstrating the Circle of Life
The second patch shown on the front page is The Y-Tribes Guides
program patch. Once a cabin joins Y-Tribes, they should receive this
patch. The patch is given out only once to the Cabin. Every year the
child continues in the program, the child will receive an element pin.
A graduation pin is also given to the child when they graduate from the
program in the third grade (parents do not receive the element of
Patches are given to Tribe members who participate in many events, such
as campouts. A patch is also given to Princesses for reciting the Aims
White Buffalo (Honor) Patches
The goal of the White Buffalo award program is to encourage and reward
tribes for active participation in the Y-Tribes program. At monthly
Council meetings, chiefs report their tribe's activities to the Tally
Keeper, who assigns points based on participation level. A tribe
accumulating 1000 points by the end
of the year will earn White Buffalo patches for all Tribe members.
and Drug Policy
YMCA of Central Ohio Parent/Child Programs
The purpose of the Y-Tribes program is to foster companionship of
parent and child. In accordance with this purpose, alcohol and/or drugs
are prohibited during YMCA programs and YMCA sanctioned events. This
includes the possession and/or the use of these substances. This is for
the safety of the program participants.
The YMCA has a zero tolerance policy - any persons found consuming of
in possession of alcohol or non-prescription drugs will result in
consequences. Any participant suspected to be under the influence will
be denied the right to participate in activities by staff. This may be
the YMCA Coordinator of camp staff, if applicable. These consequences
may be, but are not limited to: fines, program suspension, program
expulsion, meeting with YMCA staff, and/or prosecution by local
authorities if behavior warrants.
Thank you for your support and cooperation in this matter.
questions or comments.
Contents Copyright © Kilbourne Council.