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P.G. YMCA Indian Guides and Princesses
Bowie, Maryland

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Indian Guides - A Brief History        

The National YMCA Indian Guide program officially started in 1926.  The purpose of these programs is to foster the understanding and companionship between father and child. 

The Father and Son Y-Indian Guide Program was developed in a deliberate way to support the father's vital family role as teacher, counselor and friend to his son. The program was initiated by Harold S. Keltner, St. Louis YMCA director, as an integral part of association work. In 1926 he organized the first tribe in Richmond Heights, Mo., with the help of his good friend, Joe Friday, an Ojibway Indian, and William H. Hefelfinger, chief of the first Y-Indian Guide tribe. Inspired by his experiences with Joe Friday, who was his guide on fishing and hunting trips to Canada, Harold Keltner initiated a program of parent-child experiences that now involves a quarter of a million children and adults annually in the YMCA.
 

In the Beginning...          
While Keltner was on a hunting trip in Canada one evening, Joe Friday said to his colleague as they sat around a blazing campfire: "The Indian father raises his son. He teaches his son to hunt, track, 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 comments struck home, and Harold Keltner arranged for Joe Friday to work with him at the St. Louis YMCA.
 

Closing the gap...      
The Ojibway Indian spoke before groups of YMCA boys and dads in St. Louis, and Keltner discovered that fathers, as well as boys, had a keen interest in the traditions and ways of the American Indian. At the same time, being greatly influenced by the work of Ernest Thompson Seton, great lover of the outdoors, Harold Keltner conceived the idea of a father and son program based upon the strong qualities of American 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.
 

American Indian Culture and Life
Keltner designed a father-son program based on the qualities of American Indian culture and life:  Dignity, Patience, Endurance, Spirituality, Feeling for the earth, and Concern for the family.   From this, Y-Indian Guide programs were born.