YMCA Indian Guide Programs


Like all well-built youth programs, the YMCA Indian Guide programs didn't appear out of thin air but were the result of many years of trial programs and studying what works best with kids. Officially the YMCA Indian Guide program got its start in 1926, as is widely attested to on many YMCA websites. However, I think an argument could be made that the program was even older - with their "Friendly Indian" program that started around 1923, but that's just a personal thought. 1926 is early enough, and in 2006 they celebrated 80 years!

The overall program, that continues today, appears to have always tried to be respectful of Native Americans.

Their dad/son program, called "Indian Guides" started in 1926, but didn't get national support until 1935 (after being tested and studied of course.) The name then morphed into Y Indian Guides, then simply Y Guides. They same happened with the mom/daughter "Indian Maidens", dad/daughter "Indian Princess", and the late joining mom/son "Indian Brave", and the newest "Y-Papoose" programs.



A look at the Y-Indian Guide Program patches, handbooks and headbands through the years:

Early Indian Guide Membership Pin

Indian Guides

Modernize headband

Indian Guides

Y-Indian Guides
yellow center
The "Y" was added to Indian in 1941

red center

with hearts
YMCA Y-Guides
"Indian" was dropped in 2001


An example of a local patch

1960 edition







Indian Princess



1972 edition 




Indian Maidens



Y-Indian Maidens
dark brown or black edging
Y-Indian Maidens
red edging


Local patches are popular



Y-Indian Braves





Y-Papoose Program

Famous Alumni of the Y-Indian Guide programs:

If you don't know who Jack Webb and Art Linkletter are, ask your grandparents or Google them.


In Memory of the Co-Founders of the Y-Indian Guide programs:


May 7, 1893 - August 2, 1986
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery
Lemay, MO


Born March 31, 1884
Died ?