June 16th, 2019 is Father’s Day. We should know. We invented it. (No really, we did!)
The emotions on Father’s Day can depend on the relationship one had with their own father (or not) and their status as a Dad (or not). It’s easy for some to dismiss Father’s Day as commercial exploitation. “Another ‘Hallmark’ holiday,” they say. Designed to sell ties and aftershave. Some studies indicate that Americans will spend upwards of $15 Billion on Father’s Day gifts in 2019. Wow. That’s a lot of tie tacks and coffee mugs!
At the Y, we take Father’s Day pretty seriously. Father’s Day in America was founded at the YMCA by Sonora Smart Dodd. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA’s own building on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. Here we are 109 years later helping all types of families raise their kids. Two parent households, single parents and every other combination of the family unit. The Y is for all.
For myself, and almost 20 years as a YMCA professional, I have had the privilege to help a generation of neighbors and friends raise their kids in Y programs. However, this year is different – in 2018, I became a dad for the first time and this is “my” first Father’s Day.
It is fun and humbling being a new parent. With the same responsibilities that I had before, but now, I have to figure out what every other parent has had to figure out: How to get from breakfast to bedtime, putting your child to bed in better shape than they woke up.
Dads being involved in their children’s most formative years is core to what makes the Y the indispensable institution that it has become over our 175-year history. Although I am a Y professional, I have no doubt that my daughter will grow up being a “Y kid” as I have trust in the mission, staff and the many programs that will help strengthen my family throughout this whole new journey.
Many of you are reading this because the Y has become a part of the way you do life. For many, your now grown kids were raised in your local Y. The Y has run an amazing program for 80 years that many of you will recall. It’s called Indian Guides. Well, it was called Indian Guides. We now call it Adventure Guides.
This Father’s Day weekend we will be hosting events at your local Y. We are dubbing it “Dadurday”. It is a celebration of dads everywhere and specifically will serve as our relaunch of Adventure Guides to the state of Arizona. Adventure Guides is a father-son/father-daughter program where dads gather in local “circles” and have adventures with their kids. Camping, service projects, leadership experiences and character building programs all culminate in the ultimate goal of Adventure Guides, “Friends Forever”.
Now…don’t call me on June 16th as I’ll be hanging out with my 9-month-old daughter, James; possibly drinking out of a new coffee mug. However, I am excited to know that in only a few years, we will be joining the many other Y dads in an old, but new tradition in the Valley, Adventure Guides.
Happy Father’s Day to you all from the Valley of the Sun YMCA!
Chief Operating Officer
Valley of the Sun YMCA