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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Indian Guides/Adventure Guides

I wanted to write on something (after yesterday's post) about something true and dear about my childhood. It is about a program much like cub scouts, girl scouts, etc., but so much better. The program I am referring to, in which the YMCA sponsors, is called Adventure Guides. It is a program where daughter/Mom, son/Mom, daughter/Dad, daughter/Mom can join together. This was a enormous piece of my childhood and one way that I was able to really and truly connect with my Dad.

Adventure Guides once was called Indian Guides and more specifically for my group called Indian Princess (Dad/daughters). From what I have read, the name changed after a few AIM protesters thought it to be stereotyping and threatened to sue the YMCA. To be honest, I really have to disagree with it being at all undermining the Native Americans, as this group really did teach me Native American history,rituals, etc., that I just would not have learned any where else. We even met a few Native Americans on reservations to talk with them and see first hand their culture. It is unfortunate with the hyper sensitivity, but I will move on.

I was part of the Winston-Salem, North Carolina Chickasaw Tribe and was called Princess Firecracker (very suitable for the type of child I was). My Dad was Chief Thundercloud. Each month we would get together at one of our tribe members house for a meeting. From what I remember (this is a child's perspective here) we would proceed with the meeting by getting a talking stick in which one by one a Dad or a daughter would stand up without interruption by anyone else and tell a quick story or something they did since the last meeting. This gave us the opportunity to practice public speaking. I think afterward we would then decide on the next month's activity such as ice skating, bowling, horseback riding, etc., We always had an activity and a meeting once a month during the normal school year. After we completed the meeting we then would usually convene into the kitchen to do a craft such as make a picture frame with Popsicle sticks or decorate a wreath. At the end of each meeting, we would all stand in a circle and end the meeting with a little ritual that we would say. It went like this:

And now may the great spirits
of all the great spirits
Be with you here, now and forever more.

Twice a year we as a tribe would also get together with all the other tribes in the nation to go camping. I remember going camping at Camp Cheerio and Camp Hanes. It wasn't real camping so to speak as we all had cabins with bunk beds to stay in and food cooked for us by cafeteria workers. It was fantastic. We would go hiking, swimming, canoeing, fishing, etc., with just us and our Dads. We were truly able to bond because had our mothers been there, she would of intervened (as most Moms do) with telling us both what to do or planning out our day. This gave a chance for Dads and daughters to truly just be to do activities the way we thought was best and be able to talk without Mom guiding us along. I do have to say that I always came back dirty, full of mud and my hair was done the same way when I returned as when I left. I was lucky if I ran a comb through it when I was gone. That part was great. Yes it was sort of unhygienic, but twice a year of caked on dirt and messy hair wasn't going to hurt me.

This is a rare photo you will see of me on this website. This was my sister and I doing target practice with a rifle. Do you think my Mom would of been totally cool with this? Probably not. Dad let me try it though. My sister and I were both perfectly safe.

During our camping trips we would also have a relay race against the other tribes where Dads and Daughters would team up to run, shoot an arrow, canoe across a lake, shoot a basketball into a hoop and then perform in a pie eating contest. Again, it was another way for us to bond as daughter/Dad and also with our tribe members. We also would get together once a year to have a all inclusive tribes of the nations meeting. Prior to the meeting, the Chief of the Nations (a Dad that was selected from one of the tribes to be Chief for a year) would start the ceremony by canoeing across the the lake and shoot a flaming arrow into the lake to start the ceremony. My AWESOME Dad was once Chief of the Nation and I and my sister was able to canoe with him when he did this. It was a fantastic year as we were also Princesses of the Nation (we loved our power that we really didn't have). The Nations Tribal meeting would have skits performed by each tribe, awards would be presented (we won tribe of the year five years in a row) and we would talk about things coming up for the next year. We typically would also sing certain songs, but one that sticks out to me is about our motto "Friends Forever". The song went like this:

(Change the wording of “boys” and “dads” to match the makeup of your Circle. Sing to the tune of “Clementine.”)
Friends Forever, Friends Forever,
That’s our slogan, that’s our song;
Boys are stronger, dads feel younger
When they take the boys along;
Moms are for it, dads adore it,
And the boys all think it’s fine;
Friends Forever, Friends Forever,
As Adventure Guides we’ll have good times.
Through the days and through the years,
We will wander side by side,
Friends Forever, Friends Forever,
Our Creator is our guide.

Afterward we would all get ice cream at the mess hall. Then at the end of the camping trip the Princesses with their Dads were awarded badges for their vest. Primarily it was badges that said you went to the camping trip, performed in a certain area of the relay race, etc.,

My Dad and I when he was Chief of the Nation. I love this photo.

In all, my memories of this time in my life are so fond and I wish sometimes if I could relive certain moments of my childhood, that I would relive some of those moments with my Dad. I will say for one that if I ever have a daughter, I would want my husband to join with my daughter. Some times its hard for Dads to relate or really bond with their little girls and this is just an amazing, amazing opportunity to do just that. I am HIGHLY considering on doing this with my son. I also promise that if I do, he can go (if he wants) the entire week without combing his hair during our camping trips.

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