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Youth Potential - Y-Guides


With our hectic and busy lives, dads and kids don’t often get designated time together to develop their unique bond. Y-Guides celebrates the vital role that fathers play in the growth and development of their children. At its core, the Y-Guides program provides the framework for dads and kids to share entertaining, age-appropriate activities in local tribes with uninterrupted time to connect, tune into needs and show pride and affection.


Building a Legacy

The Y-Guides program was founded in 1926 by St. Louis YMCA director, Harold Keltner. Originally created to support and encourage a father’s vital role as teacher, counselor and friend to his son, the program has since grown to include daughters. In 1958, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte launched the program with three tribes, and has grown to its current size of 185 tribes with over 1000 families and 2300 individuals.

Impacting Families and Communities

Aside from patches earned through activities and achievements, the lasting awards children receive are given through words and expressions of praise. A smile from Dad, a pat on the back or a word of approval from the Chief — all have real impact and meaning. The benefits to families and the overall community are endless and profound: fostering trust and respect, building self-esteem, improving social skills, and offering life lessons for the young and young at heart.

Investing in Relationships

Y-Guides is housed out of YMCA Camp Thunderbird, but its strength is its virtual location requiring little in the way of capital investment. Meetings are held in participant’s homes, and excursions are rented from Y camps and other venues. Continuous improvement and growth in providing wonderful ways for dads to invest in their kids is an ongoing goal of the program’s leadership.

Through the generosity of our donors, we provide scholarship assistance so that families in need can participate. A donation of $500 sends father and child to two weekends of Longhouse where they create lasting memories.  

Y-Guides Service Opportunities
For Youth Development

Bright Blessings

Bright Blessings is a volunteer-led, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving the greater Charlotte region. Thanks to the helping hands and hearts of volunteers and supporters, the programs of Bright Blessings brings joy, care and hope to over 4000 homeless and impoverished children every year.


We support our community each year with our Classroom Central Service Project. Classroom Central equips students living in poverty for more effective learning by distributing free school supplies. Serve together and donate school tools such as filler paper, composition books, pocket folders, kid scissors, glue sticks, crayons, markers and colored pencils.

Cookies for Cancer

Looking for a fun idea for your tribe that makes a difference for kids battling cancer? Host a Cookies for Kids' Cancer Bake Sale. It's simple - pick a location, ask friends and family to bake, spread the word in your community and host the event with the rest of your tribe. All funds raised go to pediatric cancer research and as a thank you; they send each member of your tribe a Cookies for Kids' Cancer patch and Good Cookie certificate. Email events@beagoodcookie.org to get started.

Urban Ministry - My Name is Rachel/My Name is John

These discussion-based exercises each tell the true story of an UMC neighbor. My Name is Rachel tells the story of a woman who grew up in generational poverty. My Name is John tells the story of man who seemed to be living the American Dream. In each, we analyze how life circumstances led them to homelessness and what made a difference in their lives. This activity may be on-site or off-site at a group facility. Coordinate date and time with 5-25 volunteers. Ages: Rachel = Middle School to Adult; John = Elementary School to Adult. Time: 1.5 hours.

Urban Ministry - Operation Sandwich

All we need is a willingness to supply the sandwich ingredients and man power to get them made. The sandwiches are delivered here for our soup kitchen volunteers to serve with lunch. Sandwiches can be delivered Monday – Friday 8:00am – 3:00pm, or Saturday-Sunday 9:30am – 12:00pm.

Urban Ministry - Walk in My Shoes

Adopt the identity of a person experiencing homelessness and “walk in their shoes,” visiting several agencies around the Urban Ministry Center. This experience is a great way to understand the everyday hardships caused by homelessness on a physical level. This is an on-site activity, Saturdays (10am-12pm) or coordinate volunteers (5 – 25 people with one chaperone per 5-6 students). Time: 2 hours.


As a community-wide Federation of tribes, we coordinate several group community service opportunities during the school year. We encourage tribes and individuals to volunteer.


Each year as one of our service projects, Y-Guides raises funds for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte's Community Outreach Campaign. These funds help ensure that Y-Guides membership and events are available to all families in our community.