How to Start a Y-Guides / Y-Princess Tribe

What do you do when starting a new Y-Guides or Y-Princess Tribe?  We provide some tips, ideas, and guidelines to help you get things started.  We also provide you with some details on conducting your monthly Pow Wows.

Ok, so you’ve enrolled in the Guides or Princess program with the YMCA, and you’re starting a new tribe.  Now what?

The first thing you need to do is to select a date for your first Dad’s meeting.  Once you get all the dads together, you need to accomplish the following:

Pick the Chief and Other Tribe Roles (or ask for volunteers)

  • Chief
  • Tally-keeper – keeps schedule and tribal data
  • Wampum Bearer – handles tribal finances
  • Medicine Man – otherwise known as the Assistant chief (next year’s chief)
  • Other roles are optional and can rotate, but if you assign them, a dad should pick one up for the first few meetings until a rhythm is developed
    • Songmeister (can rotate monthly)
    • Storyteller (can rotate monthly)
    • Craft-master (can rotate monthly)

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Outline the Program Objectives and Establish Guidelines

  • Review nation calendar
  • Select nation events to participate in
  • Establish tribe meeting dates – setting a fixed day of month works well (i.e. first Monday of every month)
  • Establish communications process (most likely email)
  • Establish funding process – typically a monthly donation to the wampum bag by the children
  • Establish generic tribe meeting format

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Prepare the Dads for the Year

  • Get everyone registered with the Y – provide them with instructions on how to register
  • Provide a Tribe Calendar for the Year – send out frequent reminders for meetings and events
  • Get vests for assembly –  you can receive a bulk discount if you order them together (list of resources)
  • Provide dads with resources to help (such as
  • Tribal materials from the Y (program book, songs, stories, crafts, registration forms)

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Suggested First Tribe Meeting Agenda

  • Welcome from the Chief
  • Ask each Child to introduce himself/herself and Dad
  • Chief describes program and tribe
  • A Dad describes the 6 aims of Indian Guides/Princesses
  • Ask the children to give examples of what each of the 6 aims might be or why they are important
  • A Dad passes out the vests
  • The Dad’s and children work on assembling their vests
  • The tribe is called back together with vests on
  • The Chief asks each child to select their Indian guide/princess name and the Dad’s name; a talleykeeper should scribe this
  • A Dad explains the tribe name options
  • The children are asked to select a name (by vote if necessary)
  • One Dad/Child lead a song
  • Closing Indian Prayer – it’s the same for both Guides and Princesses
  • Final ceremony
  • Adjourn for snacks

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Suggested Agenda for Ongoing Tribe Meetings

Each tribe might do things a bit different but the following provides a great general outline.

  1. Chief calls the meeting to order
  2. Ceremonial part of meeting
    • Medicine Man does short invocation
    • Slogan
    • Purpose
    • Aim
  3. Wampum/Scouting report
  4. Storytelling
  5. Playtime
  6. Refreshments
  7. Craft
  8. Closing Ceremony

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Details for Ongoing Meetings

Above are some general guidelines and ideas for your tribe’s first meeting and a general agenda for ongoing meetings; but you many need a little more detail to help you conduct your meetings.  Use this as a starting point.

The Chief needs to take control of the meeting to keep order and keep the meeting moving along.

The Chief calls the meeting to order

The meetings host child strikes 12 beats on the tribal drum (or other suitable drum).  During this time, Dads and children should be gathering around the circle and becoming quiet by the twelfth beat.  A variation on this would be to strike one beat for each child present.

Ceremonial part of the meeting

The Chief asks the Medicine Man to say a few words. Example: Oh Great Spirit, look upon this tribe, the( insert tribe name), and guide us in our ways.  Or a suitable prayer.

  1. The meetings host child strikes 2 beats on the tribal drum.
  2. The Chief asks the Tribe, “What is the slogan of a Y-Indian Princess/Guide?”
  3. Princess respond “Friends always with my Dad”/ Guides respond “Pals forever with my Dad”
  4. The Chief asks the tribe, “What is an Indian Princess/Guide?”
  5. The tribe responds, ” A girl/boy with a dad like mine”
  6. The Chief says, “Let us chant our aims”
  7. The Tribe responds, “We father and daughter/son, through friendly service to each other, to our family, to this tribe, to our community and country, seek a world that is pleasing to the eye of the Great Spirit”.
  8. The Chief asks the Tribe, “What are the aims of an Indian Princess/Guide?”
    • To be clean in body and pure in heart
    • To be friends always with my dad/daughter/son
    • To love the sacred circle of my family
    • To be attentive while others speak
    • To love my neighbor as myself
    • To seek and preserve the beauty of the Great Spirits work in forest, field and streams

Wampum/Scouting Report

Wampum is money collected from each child in the tribe.  The amount is set by the tribe and will be used by the tribe to offset craft costs, camping fees, party at the end of season, donated to a worthy organization, etc.

The Wampum Bearer asks the tribe, “Princess’s/Guides, you must tell the tribe your Indian Name and your Dad’s Indian name.  You must tell us your real name and your Dad’s real name.  You must tell the tribe what you did to earn your wampum and give us your scouting report.  The child who had the last meeting will collect the wampum from each child before they speak and hand the child a “talking stick”.  The tribe listens to each Princess/Guide and enthusiastically responds “good job” when each is done.

This process can be revised to your tribes liking.  You can have  everyone gather in a circle, and pass the wampum bag around the circle.  Each child takes a turn sharing something exciting that he/she did with their dad since the last meeting.  Then they add the donation into the wampum bag and pass it on.


At this point in the meeting, someone tells a story.  Each tribe can assign a person as story teller, or this can be rotated from family to family. 


This can be free time for the kids to play, or it can be a structured game.  You can assign a dad and Princess/Guide to prepare a game for the meeting or the host family can determine the game or activity.


As with the playtime, the refreshments can be assigned to a different father/child pair, or can be left up to the host family.  Some tribes may hold their meetings on Fridays and have pizza, however, this requires longer meetings.


The craft is one of the most important parts of the meeting.  Select crafts such that the dad and child can work together.  It is a terrific bonding time for the parent and child, and it provides a little memento of the time spent together.

Closing Ceremony

The Chief says, “Tribe, gather around our campfire.”  Meeting host child strikes 6 beats on the tribal drum

  • Medicine Man leads the tribe in a song like Pals Forever or America the Beautiful.
  • Medicine Man ends the meeting by starting the Closing Prayer (as the group joins in)

Remember, this is just a starting point.  Each tribe will have it’s own unique culture and traditions to tie into the activities and events.

Good luck, and enjoy this time with you children.  The time goes by quickly, but they’ll remember it forever.

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