Around a simple campfire, two men engaged in deep conversation, reflecting carefully on the events of history and their effect on the integrity of the family and quality of life. It was 1926. The conversation between Harold Keltner, a YMCA Director in St. Louis, and Joe Friday, an Ojibwa Indian, inspired the beginning of a remarkable tradition.

Together, Keltner and Friday started what is now known as Y Guides; a program with a purpose of deepening the bond between father and child. The father-child program spread quickly across the United States in the 1950s and was founded right here in the Triangle in 1968. While some program elements have changed, Y Guides continues to capture the magic and intent of Keltner and Friday’s original idea: strengthening father-child relationships through activities that allow dads to spend quality one-on-one time with their children.

For nearly 100 years, the magic of the Y Guides program has been found within its simplicity. Simply put, Y Guides is a program for all dads and all kids. Participants come from all walks of life, sharing a goal of working side by side to learn lessons that improve spirit, mind and body. Our mission compels us to embrace, reflect and celebrate the richness of diversity within each other. Our core values – caring, honesty, respect, responsibility, and faith in God – guide everything we do. Through this program, dads, sons and daughters are helping to strengthen our community, together.

The YMCA of the Triangle is proud to claim one of the strongest and largest Y Guides programs in the country, with nearly 14,000 members across six counties.