When I joined Y-Guides and Y-Princesses in 2007 with my dad, I had no idea what I was truly getting into. Thanks to the program, I meet my best friend and have memories that I still remember to this day.
Y-Guides (formerly known as Y-Guides and Y-Princesses) is a program that focuses on strengthening father-child relationships through one-on-one activities and group meetings with your “tribe”. Each tribe consists of about nine father-child pairs and each person has their own unique name like Floating Butterfly or Speedy Tiger.
My name was Singing Bird because I loved to sing and I figured the ‘singing’ part went well with ‘bird’.
In my tribe, we had 7 pairs of dads and daughters, including myself. When we first started hanging out, I only knew two other girls. We would meet once or twice a month at a tribe member’s house. At the houses, we would have snacks and do fun activities together.
I remember one time when we were hanging out at a tribe member’s house and the ice cream truck came by. All of us girls looked at each other and sprinted outside. Although we never actually got any ice cream, we ended up playing outside and just enjoying each others company. Memories like this make me wish that I could sometimes go back to when I was a kid, without phones and high school.
Every spring, the whole tribe would head down to the Camp Seafarer, a YMCA summer camp located in Arapahoe, NC.
On Friday night, we would all drop our stuff off in the cabin and head to the mess hall for Ice Cream Social. Then, Saturday morning, all of us girls would wait in our beds while the dads brought hot chocolate. After breakfast, activities would start and we would spend the day ziplining, canoeing, and doing all the typical “summer camp” activities.
After dinner, all of the tribes would go to a campfire over at Camp Seagull, the camp for boys, and listen to stories and sing repeat-after-me songs, which I still remember to this day. Then, on Sunday, we would do some final activities and pack up to drive home.
My favorite part about Camp Seafarer was the 3rd-year raft race. Basically, the whole tribe would get together once or twice a month to build a raft that would hold up seven dads and seven daughters.
We built our raft out of PVC piping, mattresses, and saran wrap. Compared to other rafts, ours was definitely the simplest and most boring, but we ended up winning the race. I still remember feeling scared when my dad fell off the raft, but then realizing we were going to the final round and screaming like crazy.
On the final round of my 3rd raft race, my tribe The Amazing Princesses of Raleigh, raced against the Wild Horses. To this day, I still remember that feeling of reaching the shore and just screaming at the top of my lungs with all of my friends. (Video used by permission of Dana McCall)
I was so proud of what we’d created and so happy that we won. Sadly, the prize was just bragging rights as all we really got was a certificate saying we won. It didn’t really matter though as I was so happy to stand up in front of the whole camp and feeling pride for my tribe.
Although I stopped going to Camp Seafarer in third grade, I started volunteering in fifth grade. Instead of attending the activities, I was the one helping to run them, which I enjoy just as much.
I volunteer twice a year, once at Camp Seafarer or Seagull and once a year at Camp Rockmont. Camp Rockmont is a camp in the mountains for older kids called “Trailblazers”. Kids start in fourth grade and can continue on even into college.
From going to these camps, my dad and I have created so many traditions, like going out to dinner on Saturday night with another family we volunteer with and bringing Oreo’s–traditional and mint–to snack on.
The memories and friends I made through Y-Guides will last my throughout my whole life. I met my best friend through Y-Guides and remember almost every single of our trips because of how much fun they were. It was a chance to get away from school– and in the dad’s case get away from work– and spend father-daughter time.
Even now as a volunteer, I count down the days until I go to Camp Seafarer. Not only can I have fun at camp, I can give kids the same fun that I experienced when I was their age. Although I’m not able to do all of the activities that I used to do, I just love being able to help little kids and make them happy.
My dad and I are both really busy, but at camp there is no work allowed, which allows us to spend quality time together. We also get a little bit of a technology break as there is no wifi anywhere, and most of the time we’re too busy to be on our phones. The happiness that Y-Guides brought me and continues to bring is something I can’t find anywhere else.