Y-Guides & Princesses
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Access program registration forms, Smoke Signals (newsletter), program handbooks, and other applicable and useful resources.
To jump directly to our updated 2012-13 Y-Guide and Y-Princess Program info, click here.
Access campout dates, calendar of events, and current program prices.
Y-Guide and Y-Princess Programs have been a nation-wide tradition since the 1920s, patterned after strong American Indian cultures, where fathers play a major role in educating their children about the meaning and purpose of life.
The Y-Guide and Y-Princess Programs are unique opportunities for fathers to spend uninterrupted time with their young children. The purpose is to strengthen families. Fathers and sons, and fathers and daughters participate in fun, educational activities that help them grow closer together.
For any specific questions about Y-Guide and Y-Princess Programs at YMCA Camp Thunderbird, please contact the Camp Director, Dave Hennessey, at hennesseyd at ymcarichmond dot org.
Facility & Camp Map
To read about our campground amenities and offerings, and to download our official camp map, click here.
Program enrollment can begin at the child’s age of five years old.
Participants are divided into Nations, and subdivided into Tribes. Regular meetings take place on the Tribal level, at intervals and locations best determined by the members.
Each participant receives a head band, program patch, feather, and program manual, upon registration. Additional awards, feathers, and patches, are available as merit awards for completing projects and learning new skills.
Ready to get started!?
If you've already identified a specific Nation and Tribe that you'd like to join, and if they have a spot for you, then just let us know--all you will need to do is submit the registration form and applicable fees.
If you have not already found a Nation and Tribe, then again, just let us know! We will work our best to find a group in your area. We will contact the Nation Chief, and Tribal Chiefs until we find a fit! Then, just submit the registration form and the applicable fees, and we'll put you in touch with your Tribal Chief who will pull you into the group and keep you up to date with your Tribe's meeting and activities. For assistance with placement into a new Nation and/or Tribe, please contact the Camp Director, Dave Hennessey, at hennesseyd at ymcarichmond dot org.
Look the Part!
Next step...now you need your materials.
First, download our Friends Always Program Manual by visiting our Download Center, here.
Then, you'll need a leather vest to display all of those patches that you'll soon be earning. And yes, they are purchased as kits (not pre-assembled), so creating your vests together will be your first father-child bonding activity! To purchase vests, we recommend:
To go to their website, click here.
We've established a great relationship with DKG over the years; ask for Dick Davis and he'll take care of you!
To go to their website, click here.
This is the local option if you don't have time to wait for shipping.
Now, make sure you have received your official program patches. Each Big Brave (father) will receive the program patch (either Y-Princess or Y-Guide), and each Guide or Princess will receive their respective program patch (to match dad's) as well as their respective program headband, complete with yellow starter feather.
You're ready to go. Additional patches are available for participation in events and longhouse campouts, and are provided by YMCA staff at those actual events. Nation and Tribal Officer patches are also provided by the YMCA; just request them at or before either your Fall or Spring longhouse campout.
Award (Beaver, Cougar, Buffalo) patches are available as merit awards for completion of individual projects. These patches are provided by the YMCA, but must be requested by your Tribal or Nation Chief at either your Fall or Spring longhouse campout. For a list of award criteria, visit our Download Center, here.
Please note that some Nations and Tribes opt to have custom patches and awards created for their own groups and events. That is great! However, these items are not provided by the YMCA. Please contact the Camp Director, Dave Hennessey, at hennesseyd at ymcarichmond dot org, if you are interested in purchasing custom patches; he will put you in touch with the appropriate vendor.
Longhouse Campouts & Weekend Activities
YMCA Camp Thunderbird hosts two longhouses (campouts) each program year for each Nation in the Y-Guide and Y-Princess program; each Nation has one longhouse in the fall, (usually between September and November) and one longhouse in the spring (usually between March and May).
For each Nation’s assigned weekend, longhouse check-in begins on Friday afternoon, and check-out is on Sunday morning.
Each Tribe is assigned to a cabin for the weekend by that Nation’s Nation Chief. Cabins do have electricity. Although each Tribe will have access to a cabin, many participants choose to tent camp. The choice is yours.
Multiple bath house facilities around the property provide amenities for washing and bathing.
YMCA staff facilitate archery, riflery, canoeing, the zip line, and the alpine tower on Saturday. Other weekend activities including crafts, fishing, obstacle courses, and field games are scheduled and facilitated by the Nation officers and volunteer Big Braves (fathers).
Each family will receive a welcome packet at Friday’s check in, that includes a schedule of weekend activities and a camp map.
Winter Nation Bowling
During the winter season, when it's too cold to camp out, we host Nation Bowling. Each Nation is assigned a Saturday or Sunday to compete in Father-Child bowling at:
King Pin Lanes
200 N. Otterdale Road
Midlothian, VA 23113
Each child joins his or her father to make one team. The cost for each team to participate is $7.50 (shoes included). Each team bowls two games, "Scotch Doubles" style, with the child bowling the first ball of each frame, and the father bowling the second ball of the frame.
Teams compete in age divisions based on the child's age (5-6, 7-8, 9-11, 12+).
Scores for the two games are averaged for each team, and the top three teams in each age division in each Nation are invited to the Championship Council Bowl. All Council Bowlers receive a patch, and the top three girls, and the top three boys in each age division at Council Bowl receive trophies!
Join us each January for our Annual Father-Daughter Dance. It's a fun-filled night of great food, crazy costumes, games, and of course, dancing! We'll provide the space, DJ, and main dish; families are asked to bring either an appetizer or dessert to share. There is no charge for registered members to attend the dance.
As we close each program season, join us for our spring Tribal Service Day, here at camp. All members are encouraged to attend and take part in facility projects to improve our grounds while bonding with your family.
Program Schedules (2012-13)
Program Prices (2012-13)
All families must be facility or community members of the Y. Program fees for the first child for the year are $100. Additional children are $20.
The safety of our children and families is our top concern.
To view our Y-Guide and Y-Princess Safety Rules and Regulations Policy, please click here.