More ways to connect with your kids

Get back to nature – Adventure Guides / Adventure Princesses programs

Atop Hell's gate at Camp Grady Spruce, Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas
Atop Hell’s gate at Camp Grady Spruce, Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas

My kids and I have benefited greatly from  “Adventure Guides / Adventure Princesses” style programs offered by some of the regional organizations. The programs goal is simple: to get you to dedicate a weekend or more to having an outdoor adventure with your kid(s).  The programs are less rigorous than the scouting programs; which equates to approximately one activity a month. Activities, which vary by program, can include: at least 2 camping weekends, pine box derby, rocket launches, BB/Arrow events, visits to Great Wolf Lodge, daddy-daughter dances, parade floats)

Camp Classen, Davis, OK
Camp Classen, Davis, OK
Beaver's Bend Camp, OK
Beaver’s Bend Camp, OK

Ideally, you and your kid will come together with friends from school, church, neighborhood, etc. form a “circle”  or “tribe”. Circles can be large or small; but work best when you have a core of committed families to see it through. Circles are organized by gender (i.e. your daughter and her friends); but age of circle members can vary depending on the program you join. One of the dads in the circle will need to step up and become Chief of the circle; and will be responsible for keeping the circle organized. “Camping” is usually in a cabin with A/C and indoor plumbing. Some meals are provided by the camp location.

Hike at Camp Grady Spruce
Hike at Camp Grady Spruce

A “longhouse” fee is usually due to register a dad and kid for the year. Then- there is a separate fee for each activity. Some programs offer multiple child discounts.


 

PROCESS:

Depending on how fast you can get organized, there are activities coming up very soon for you to join. Here are the steps to take:
1. form a circle
2. pick a chief
3. pick a program and register
4. gear up and have fun

1. FORM A CIRCLE The first thing you have to do is to find at least 4 friends and their dads (4 being the minimum size group to be functional; can be less or many more) to form your circle or tribe. The members can be from the school, your place of worship, friends from a former school or neighborhood, etc.The ages of the kids will be limited by which group you pick below in step 3. The important part is that you and your kids get along well; and share a common concept of what you want out of the experience
2. PICK A CHIEF One of the dads in that group needs to be the chief to lead the group and be the liaison with the Long House ( program organizers). The Chief will need to contact the Long House leadership and found your circle. I suggest sharing the actual duties of leadership in your group; but only one is needed to connect with the Long House.

3.PICK A PROGRAM Now- picking a group. There are many programs in the area; but three local ones of importance. Each has its pros and cons. All are similar in that they offer a monthly activity/campout* (pine box derby, rocket launches, target practice, daddy-daughter dance, parade floats) throughout the year. It does not have weekly meetings or other programs; it is just there to facilitate some unique experiences between Dad and kids.

Area Programs:


Frisco YMCA – Adventure Guides / Adventure Princesses (age-based circles; multi-age campouts )

https://www.ymcadallas.org/locations/frisco/programs/adventure_guides__princesses/

This is the closest program. You are more than likely to have people you know from across the city in this group. The circles are organized by age of kid; but the campouts will have multiple ages of circles involved. Age range of kids will be Kinder thru 3rd grade. The program has two campouts a year; as well as daddy daughter dance, derby car races, rocket launches, group sports outings, and parade participation. Unfortunately, I know the least about this program.
There is a membership fee per dad and kid pair, and then a fee for each major activity you participate in.
The first campout for new tribes is usually scheduled for October , so you have time to get organized.


The Mighty Tatanka Nation –  Indian Princesses and Guides (multi-age tribes encouraged, multi-age campouts)

http://www.tatankanation.org/

The Tatanka Nation program is a McKinney-based program that does not have an affiliation with any other organization.
You can get together with a group of friends to form your own tribe; or you can join an existing one if you can’t find enough people to form your own. Tribes are made up of multiple ages (good for siblings); and accept kids from K thru 5th grade. The advantage of multi-age tribes is that the older kids teach the younger ones; and dads usually do not have to start over from scratch with each tribe. There are usually four weekend Camping trips; and are attended by multiple aged kids. This group tends to be a little more hands-on; but is also more laid back than the YMCA programs.

There is a membership fee with a multiple kid discount, and then a fee for each activity you participate in. The costs are less than YMCA, but a bit more than doing it on your own. BUT- the benefit of going on the Tatanka camping trips are the additional arranged activities (included in fee) that really pack a lot into a weekend without you having to arrange each one.
The fall campout is usually in September; so you will have to act fast. Luckily, there is also a Winter camp in November just in case you miss the first one. You can try out a camp without registering; contact me for this option.

My son and I have been a part of this group. Should you sign up, list Zachary Martin as the reference/recruiter.


Plano YMCA –  Adventure Guides / Adventure Princesses (age-based circles and campouts)

https://www.ymcadallas.org/locations/plano/adventure_guides/

The circles in this program are age based- thus campouts are dedicated to kids of the same age. The benefit of single age camps is that all campers are on an equial footing; and increases the odds that they may know kids from a former class or social group.
The program has two campouts a year; as well as daddy daughter dance, derby car races, rocket launches, Great Wolf Lodge outings, and parade participation.
There is a membership fee per dad and kid pair, and then a fee for each major activity you participate in.
The fall campouts start in September and stretch into November , depending on the age of the circle. Younger camps start later in the fall; so there is some time to get organized.
My daughter and I have been a part of this group. We have enjoyed ourselves immensely.


 

4. GEAR UP AND HAVE FUN book your events and have fun! Most activities require booking in advance; so review the calendars and plan ahead. Camping is not that strenuous; most all of the camps chosen have cabins with HVAC, indoor plumbing, bunks with mattresses, and some meals provided by cafeteria. There are usually fire pits at each camp; so roasting S’mores is a must! The camps also include activities such as hiking, canoeing, archery, horseback riding, scavenger hunts, bonfire gatherings, and inter-circle competition games.
It is customary for the circle to have a team shirt; customized graphics are the norm BUT not a requirement.
The non-camping activities are very much worth putting on the calendar. The daddy/daughter dances are worth it- play it up! And- the turkey shoot / rocket launches / derby cars are all fun bonding activities.

IN CLOSING
Please contact me should you need any advice concerning any of the topics above. Unfortunately, I can’t arrange any of the activities mentioned above for you; you will have to take the initiative to form your groups. But- I am here for whatever advice and guidance I can give.

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