YMCA Comrades and Pioneers

In the annals of lost and forgotten kids' clubs - this one will rank high on the list. The YMCA Comrades and Pioneers program did not seem to survive long. According to the Comrades 1920 handbook (revised edition) the program was still in development as late as December 1918, so the earliest launch date would have been in 1919. A Pioneer handbook has been found, dated 1924.  By 1928 the YMCA had revamped the program dropping the "Comrades" term.

The YMCA Comrades program was for boys 15,16 and 17 years old. The YMCA  Pioneers were  boys 12, 13, and 14 years old. Both programs were heavily based on the successful "Tuxis" program for boys.

In the 1930's YMCA Comrade Clubs were adult social clubs, and had nothing to do with youths.


The programs used a complicated grid on a Swiss cross - ranking a boy's achievements. The cross with four equal arms was a symbol of a well-developed life, representing the four phases of life development; intellectual, devotional, service and physical. Each of the lines in a section noted the score on a required test from the handbook. Then a boy could see his accomplishments and where he needed to work to create a well balanced life.


Comrades Membership Button emblem on gold background

Leader Membership Button emblem on a gold background. This button was for leaders of Comrades or Pioneers.

Recognitions were worn as a sweater emblem. Comrades had a tan background. The colors of the square emblems had meaning; red - if a boy averaged at 50% or below, white - if a boy averaged above 50% and below 75%, and blue if a boy averaged above 75% in a certain section of training. For the center square - there were 7 categories of service; 1) Personal Service, 2) Home Service, 3)Church Service, 4) School or Employment Service, 5) Community Service, 6) Service to the Group, and 7) Saving Human Life.


Pioneer Membership Button emblem on gold background

Pioneers also had the sweater emblem, but used a black background.


1920 Comrades Handbook (front and reverse)



1924 Pioneer Handbook