Guides/Dads hold a special and unique role in their child's development, strengthening the family bond. The YMCA Adventure Guides program provides dads the opportunity to engage in scheduled monthly activities with their kids that promote nature, family, fun, and community. Dads and kids enjoy camping trips, fun ceremonies, community events, excursions, and other exciting adventures. Join a father/daughter or father/son program today! The program runs from September through May. Join anytime.


Questions? Contact Danielle Bowman, Adventure Guides Coordinator at 408-513-3152 or [email protected].

Program Registration

Big Bear Expedition (father/son)Almaden, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, South San JoseCLICK TO REGISTER
El Gato Expedition (father/daughter)San Jose, Santa Clara, Willow GlenCLICK TO REGISTER
Sierra Expedition (father/daughter)Los Gatos, SaratogaCLICK TO REGISTER
Wilderness Expedition (father/daughter)Almaden, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, South San JoseCLICK TO REGISTER

Campout Registration

Big Bear (father/son)YMCA Camp Loma Mar (Loma Mar, CA) - Sept 6-8, 2024REGISTRATION COMING SOON
Wilderness (father/daughter)YMCA Camp Loma Mar (Loma Mar, CA) - Oct 11-13, 2024REGISTRATION COMING SOON
Big Bear / Wilderness / El GatoUSS Hornet Overnight - March 2025REGISTRATION COMING SOON
Sierra (father/daughter)Nature Bridge Overnight (Marin Headlands) - March 2025REGISTRATION COMING SOON
Wilderness (father/daughter)YMCA Camp Campbell (Boulder Creek, CA) - April 25-27, 2025REGISTRATION COMING SOON
El Gato / Sierra (father/daughter)YMCA Camp Campbell (Boulder Creek, CA) - May 3-5, 2025REGISTRATION COMING SOON

Alumni Event Registration

Alumni (12yrs+ with parent)Roughout, YMCA Family Camp - May 23-26, 2025REGISTRATION COMING SOON
Alumni (12yrs+ with parent)White Water Rafting - June 7-8, 2025REGISTRATION COMING SOON
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.

What is included in my Adventure Guide program registration fee? 
Adventure Guide registration fees covers YMCA administration costs, insurance, t-shirt, event patches, 8-9 monthly inclusive events for both dad and child, and group discounts for 2-3 additional overnight excursions. Some expeditions may have an additional Expedition Fee to cover additional parties, supplies, and custom event patches.

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.