Chiefdom of a Y-Princess Tribe

Like many fathers, I got involved in the Y-Princess Tribe (formerly known as Indian Princess) organization with my daughter.  How could I not; it’s one of those things we’re always told our daughters will never forget, from the frost-bitten toes at winter camp (apparently because dad forgot thick socks) to the rolling out of the cot and under the tent into the cold of night (definitely not my fault; at least I dragged her back in before it started pouring).

Beyond the memories it creates, I ended growing as much as my daughter through the experience.  I started off as an over-protective father (nicknamed “Marlin” by the tribe…as in Nemo the movie) who evolved into kind-of a normal dad. Two years into the tribe, we came to an impasse:  we couldn’t find a dad that would volunteer to be chief the following year.  As any good marlin would do, I volunteered for chiefdom the next year.

Fortunately, I have a wife who’s incredibly organized and also is unable to say “No” (yeah, she’ll be writing about leading a Girl Scout troop).  So to save all you poor saps finding yourselves in the same situation I found myself in, I’m hoping the tips below will help you navigate through your first year of chiefdom (don’t fool yourself…they’ll ask you again the following year).

Leading a Y Princess Tribe – Tips

Don’t try to change the culture of the tribe.  Some tribes have strict protocol for all their meetings and gatherings.  Don’t try to change it immediately.  Introducing new traditions is good; just don’t go overboard if you want to keep the tribe happy.

Recruit some help.  Identify a “Medicine Man” before the year gets started.  This is the guy that will be chief the following year, getting you out of the hot seat.  This is a great first tradition to start if your tribe tends to be on the more relaxed side of the culture spectrum.


Establish a tribe email account, with a service such as yahoo.  This alone saved me tons of time combing through personal email, organizing contact lists, storing email/newsletter templates, and more.  This helps set up the next chief to hit the ground running, and you can set up grouped contact lists (by year) to hold tribe reunions with members that have since moved on.  It’s also pretty cool to have a branded email account:

Annual Calendar

Create a 1-page calendar of events for the years activities.  Getting a group of dads to remember events is impossible…the calendar is for the wives.


Events:  Send emails letting everyone know about the upcoming events and registration.  Send out reminder emails as registrations is coming to an end.  Send one or two before the event to confirm who’s going.  Send an email after the event telling everyone how much fun it was…this will help future participation.

Monthly Meetings: Send an email after the event telling everyone how much fun it was…this will help future participation.  Send a reminder email the week before your monthly meetings.  Send another one the night before the meeting.  Send a thank you letter to the hosting family and tribe after the event.  Over-communication will help keep your participation numbers up at the events.


Make sure to provide instructions for registering for the tribe and the events.  This is probably the hardest part, depending on the the site registration of your local Y organization.  Creating and sending out an email at the beginning of the year with the “how to” of registration go a long way; and the future chiefs can use this.

The need for instructions won’t end with registration.  Your tribe will have monthly meetings throughout the school year.  Your meetings will continue to have certain traditions: the wampum bag (collecting dues), craft projects, food and drink (appetizers or dinner), the closing spirit song.  You’ll also have new members each year.  It’s a good idea to send out an email to everyone laying out a game plan for your meetings.  In this email, you can identify resources for getting the vests, coming up with craft projects, and you can also provide the words to the closing Spirit Prayer (I can guarantee you noone knows them).

Then there’s the occasional camp-outs.  You’ll need to tell everyone what to bring, such as clothing, food, etc.; and you should have ideas for skits and songs for the campfires at night (you should recruit some help from your medicine man for this).

Recognize Everyone’s Contributions

Pretty self explanatory

Tips and Ideas

You may want to have the words to the Y Princess Closing Prayer at all your meetings

Check out the list of resources for getting your vests, craft supplies, and patches

Some other songs that will come in handy: A Roosta Shaw, Bazooka BubblegumLittle Cabin in the Woods

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