Wanted: A Few Good Dads for Father/Daughter Program
“We’re looking for a few good dads.”
So say Paul MacDonald and Tracy Kinsinger, who are organizing a YMCA father/daughter program for the East Cooper area, which includes Daniel Island and Mount Pleasant.
In an age when parents find it increasingly tough to juggle demands of work and home, a structured program can help fathers schedule quality time for their daughters.
Consequently, they are launching a local “Y-Indian Princess” program that promotes friendship and understanding between fathers and daughters through organized activities. A similar program for fathers and sons is called “Y-Indian Guide.”
“Dads play such a crucial role in their daughters’ lives,” said MacDonald, who helped launch a “Y-Indian Princess” program when living in Mission Viejo, Calif. “My two daughters have tremendous memories of our campouts, cookouts and other activities. And I’ve collected photos and put them into a memory book for each of them so that they could look at them for years to come and remember what we did together. To borrow a phrase from the MasterCard commercial, that’s priceless.”
One fun memory was “kidnap bowling,” in which the fathers surprised their daughters by waking them at 6 a.m. and everyone went bowling in their pajamas. Other activities included camping on Catalina Island and at Camp Pendleton, horseback riding and skiing.
Most mothers appreciated the “Y-Indian Princess” program, according to MacDonald.
“They loved it,” he said. “They had a whole weekend for themselves once a month.”
When MacDonald and wife, Connie, moved to Mount Pleasant July 2, 2004, his daughters, Ashley, 9, and Brittany, 7, asked if they were going to have an “Indian Princess” tribe here.
He learned that the Charleston YMCA does not have a “Y-Indian Princess” or “Y-Indian Guide” program in place. So, he has worked with local “Y” officials to start a chapter for East Cooper fathers and daughters.
Daniel Island resident Tracy Kinsinger met MacDonald and was instantly captivated by the idea. The father of daughter, Olivia, 7, and son, Ben, 4, he sees it as a wonderful opportunity for quality time with his daughter.
“I already do a lot of things with my daughter, but it’s not so easy to do some activities alone, like camping,” said Kinsinger, who moved here from Oklahoma City two years ago. “It’s much easier to do things like that with an organized group, particularly when you’re a newcomer to an area.”
Saint Louis YMCA Director Harold S. Keltner founded the “Y-Indian Guides” program in 1926 with the help of his friend, Joe Friday, an Ojibwa Indian. “Y-Indian Princesses” for fathers and daughters was formed later in 1954.
Both programs are modeled after traditional American Indian values – dignity, patience, endurance, spirituality, feeling for the earth, and concern for the family.
The tribe is the basic organizational unit for Y-Indian program members and parent and child attendance together is recommended for participation in activities. Tribal meetings are usually held monthly in different members’ homes. One parent is selected as chief, and the various tribal offices are delegated to the parents and kids.
The Longhouse is the inter-tribal council organization that supports the program planning of the tribes, coordinates special events, and establishes policies and standards.
Y-Indian Programs are action oriented. Members develop their own programs, elect their own officers, take turns hosting tribe meetings, and conduct the business of the tribe.
Tribes hold campouts and family outings; visit historical sites and industrial plants; take hikes to parks, zoos, and farms; and plan picnics. Participants learn about American Indian people - their culture, their customs, crafts and games, and seek to bring new understanding and appreciation of the Indians’ heritage and contributions to our nation.
Craft projects include making tribal property such as drums, headbands, and vests. Tribes have campfires and hold induction ceremonies that emphasize the importance of the parent/child relationship.
The Native American theme has been criticized in some circles as being insensitive to Indian culture. Kinsinger, an enrolled member of the Choctaw tribe, disagrees.
“It’s respectful and celebrates the values of Indian culture,” he said. “I don’t think it’s insensitive.”
To launch the program, MacDonald and Kinsinger will circulate 5,000 “Indian Princess” flyers at East Cooper elementary schools, including Hanahan Elementary. They hope to have tribes up and running by October or November.
“Our vision is to sign up 100 families initially,” said MacDonald. “Each tribe consists of 10 to 12 families and there are 10 tribes to a nation. We figure that there could be one or two tribes on Daniel Island and six to eight tribes in Mount Pleasant.”
For his part, Kinsinger is anxious to get the program started.
“My daughter’s already 7 and there’s a small window of opportunity for us to share in this opportunity,” he said. “That’s why I can’t wait to get this started in our own backyard.”
MacDonald agrees, noting that time passes quickly.
“I brought my little girl home 10 years ago on Thanksgiving and she was just this tiny little bundle,” he said. “She’s grown up so fast, and I just want to be there for her and help build a foundation of values that she can use for a lifetime.”
For more information, contact Paul MacDonald at 284-0370; e-mail email@example.com or Tracy Kinsinger at 849-0276; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.