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YMCA Adventure Guides is a monthly campout program for parents with their children ages 5-12 years old. Adventure Guides programs launch parents and their children on a journey of discovery, with the child as the explorer and the parent as the guide. The program is unique in that one-on-one time for parent and child is central but it is done so in a fun, social, special environment that builds important bonds through shared experiences like games, crafts, songs, skits, ceremonies and outdoor pursuits like camping, hiking and swimming.

The Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA’s Adventure Guides program serves approximately 4,000 adults and children annually, grouped into 13 clubs who camp together on a monthly basis around San Diego and surrounding counties. The Sea Turtles Club of the Adventure Guides program expands the positive purpose and camping experiences to LGBTQ+ youth and their parents.  Parents and children participating in Adventure Guides develop strong bonds that support self-esteem and communications skills, setting the foundation for positive, lifelong relationships, while exposing families to the enjoyment of the outdoors.

Click here to learn more about the YMCA of San Diego.

The Rainbow Family Camp Award & The Brave Space Award
Traditionally, clubs of the Adventure Guides program are organized by mother or father with sons or daughters ages 5-12, until the addition of the newest club: The Sea Turtles.

The Sea Turtles Club has been spearheaded by families that wanted to expand the positive purpose of the YMCA's Adventure Clubs camping experiences to LGBTQ+ youth and their parents, a direct alignment with The Rainbow Family Camp Fund’s mission “to experience the magic of family camp.” The Sea Turtles camp together as a club, monthly from September - June, at camping locations around San Diego County."


How does your program support belonging and connections for LGBTQ+ youth and their families? 
The YMCA seeks to offer services for underserved youth, families and
stigmatized populations. We want all participants to feel a sense of belonging and freedom to be their true self while camping and beyond. This program demonstrates our dedication to promoting a sense of belonging and connections as it is the first-ever Adventure Camping Club for LGBTQ+ youth and their families. The programming that takes place at these campouts, highlighted with the Saturday evening Club Fire and the Sunday morning group gathering, are centered around inclusion, acceptance, self-confidence, community and the Four Core Values of the YMCA: honesty, caring, respect and responsibility.

Campers are recognized with patches and celebrated for exemplifying these values throughout the weekend campout. Furthermore, thanks to our supportive funders, the YMCA is able to offer affordable program prices and a scholarship assistance program for including families that have any economic barriers for participation.


Tim Stong

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