As a member of YMCA Adventure Guides, you will have the opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with your child by joining a unique crew with whom you’ll participate in activities like games, camping trips, fun ceremonies, outings, and other family adventures. Throughout this journey, the Adventure Guides and Adventure Princesses compass points — family, nature, community, and fun will provide a sense of direction and inspiration that will help strengthen the bond between adult and child. The program runs from September through May. Join at anytime.


Questions? Contact Danielle Bowman, Adventure Guides Coordinator at 408-513-3152 or

Program Registration

Big Bear Expedition (father/son) Almaden, Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, South San Jose, Willow Glen CLICK TO REGISTER
El Gato Expedition (father/daughter) Saratoga, Willow Glen CLICK TO REGISTER
Sierra Expedition (father/daughter) Los Gatos, Saratoga CLICK TO REGISTER
Wilderness Expedition (father/daughter) Almaden, Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, South San Jose, Willow Glen CLICK TO REGISTER

Campout Registration

El Gato, Sierra and Wilderness Expeditions (father/daughter) YMCA Camp Campbell (Boulder Creek, CA) - April 26-28, 2024 CLICK TO REGISTER
Big Bear Expedition (father/son) YMCA Camp Campbell (Boulder Creek, CA) - May 3-5, 2024 CLICK TO REGISTER
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the age for children to join Adventure Guides?
5-12 years old or TK/Kindergarten- 6th Grade

Do I have to be a YMCA member to join Adventure Guides?
You do not need to be a member at the YMCA to join Adventure Guides. But, we invite you to checkout our facilities to see what else we offer.

Is it for the whole family?
Currently the groups consist of father-son and father-daughter groups. We would like to expand this out to other parental/guardians in the future too.

How long is Adventure Guides?
The program follows the school year and typically runs from late August to late May/early June, depending on when events take place.

How often are events?
There is one big highlight event each month. Circles and Expedition may also choose to have an event and/or meeting in addition too.

Do we have to attend every event?
Event attendance is completely optional, but we highly suggest to try to make it so you get the most out of the program. A calendar is made at the beginning of the season so you can reserve dates.

Program Structure

The Adventure Guide Program has three different layers of structure that help to organize and facilitate the program.

  • Guide & Explorer – These are the names for parents and children. Each person (father & child) chooses an Adventure Guide name when joining the program. Coming up with an Adventure Guide name is one of the strongest memories of the program for parents and children. It may even take several months to come up with something appropriate and meaningful. Names should try to stay with the adventure or nature themes. Good examples of names include: Little Snow Bear, Shooting Star, Big Thunder Cloud, Mighty Oak or Little Running Bunny.
  • Circles – Circles are a group of Guides & Explorers. Typically Circles are made up of 5-12 families within a school or neighborhood, but not necessarily. Circle groups come up with a name that connects to nature, adventure or their larger Expedition. Good examples of names include: Wolfpack, Falcons, Snow Leopards, Huron or Hawks. Circles meet regularly, usually monthly, at homes or community locations to complete meeting items and work on the Adventure Guide Curriculum.

  • Expeditions – Expeditions are groups of Circles organized by gender (i.e. father-daughter or father-son). Typically an Expedition is made up of 4-10 Circles. Expeditions have names also with the adventure or nature theme. Good examples of names include: Big Bear Expedition, El Gato Expedition, Wilderness Expedition, or Sierra Expedition. Expeditions host regular events, usually monthly, bringing all Circles together.

Goals and Benefits

The Adventure Guides program:

Activities to create lifelong memories.
Develop a love for nature.
Volunteer opportunities to giveback to your community.
Enhances the quality of family time.
Nurtures companionship and understanding for relationships between parent and child.
Teaches lifeskills to build self-esteem and personal worth.
Unites like-minded individuals to build lifelong friendships.
Role models for children to look up to.
Emphasizes the vital role that parents play in the growth and development of children.

Foundation and Values

Adventure Guides emphasizes the profound teaching role of the parent, a focus on community and giving back, the magic of nature, and most of all, having fun. At the heart of the program are the Compass Points, which form the essential components of the program:

  • Family: The family is “True North”—the focal point of Adventure Guides
  • Nature: The natural world and camping experiences are integral parts of the program.
  • Community: The spirit of the program is experienced through belonging to a small community, called a Circle.
  • Fun: The magic of the program is having fun together

The Y’s core values (Caring, Honesty, Respect, Responsibility) provide directions as parents guide children on their journey. Along the way adults should model, teach and demonstrate these values as well as give children many opportunities to practice and celebrate them. Initially, these four values provide guidance in helping children select activities, make decisions, and choose appropriate courses of action both in the program and in their lives.