If your husband needs to find male friends who aren’t work friends or golf friends, but other dads—hook him up with a local Adventure Guide program through the YMCA.
Another benefit? One-on-one time for dad and daughter or dad and son.
Rob Faurot, a Wilmette Adventure Guide dad with an 8-year-old daughter, says that the program allows special alone time with his daughter doing fun activities such as fishing, canoeing and making s’mores, but it also gives the dads the chance to share common experiences after the kids are asleep.
“This is a group of dads who might not otherwise connect at their daughters’ schools, but here they can share common challenges and solutions,” says Faurot.
Dan Bulf has been involved in Adventure Guides for six years, and recently took on the role as leader for the McGaw YMCA program. Bulf says that he took the job to help fulfill a personal mission borne from complicated relationships with his parents growing up.
“I had four fathers in my lifetime, and each taught me what I wanted to be, both positive and negative. Out of that I came to establish my own purpose, and that’s to be the best father I can be and to help create stronger fathers,” Bulf says. “I have found that the program is a great place to connect and share ideas on what we love about being a father as well as what some of the hardships and issues are.”
With five outings each year (typically, two campouts, a water park weekend in winter and two daddy/daughter dinner dances), there is ample time for girls and their dads to make new friends and foster long-term relationships that continue outside of the program.
“It’s a time for dads and daughters but it’s also a community of fathers and a community of daughters with relationship building happening for both,” explains Wilmette dad Patrick Hughes, father to three daughters, one currently in Adventure Guides. “It’s a rare opportunity for the fathers to get to know each other.”
Hughes adds that the although the timeframe of the program (Grades 1- 3) is relatively short, the solid sense of community continues long afterward, especially with the group leaders, who work very closely to plan, organize and carry out the various trips.
“It’s an experience that both the dads and the daughters take with them the rest of their lives,” Hughes says.