As I wrote last week, I usually feature local moms in this space on Mondays. But in June, in honor of Father's Day, I'm featuring local dads.
Today, it's Raleigh dad Pedro Rosario and his 11-year-old daughter Arianna, a fifth grader at Trinity Academy ... or, as their fellow Y Guide members in the Trinity Tiger Cubs Tribe call them, Thunder Bolt and Shining Star.
The Tiger Cubs Tribe, part of the YMCA of the Triangle's massive Y Guides program, began when Arianna and her friends were first graders. The goal was for the girls, who all attended Trinity at the time, to get to know each other better.
But the benefits have gone far beyond those initial friendships, Pedro tells me.
"We're creating memories that we're going to be able to talk about in 30 years," he said.
There are about 14,000 Y Guide members in the Triangle. The program aims to connect dads with their children in grades first to third grade. Dads and their daughters or dads and their sons get together in groups of seven to nine father and child pairs and meet a couple of times a month. They hold meetings at members' homes and make plans for special outings and trips across the region and state.
Each spring, thousands make the trip to the YMCA's Camp Seafarer and Camp Seagull in Arapahoe, N.C., for a weekend of camping, activities and a lot of fun. This year, 8,500 went over seven weeks. My husband and older daughter, a first grader, were among them. They have had a fantastic first year with their tribe and in the program. (I really can't recommend it enough and sometimes wish I could tag along on their excursions!).
And while the program traditionally ends at the third grade, about 5,000, like the Rosarios, continue in the program as Trailblazers.
The Rosario's tribe has done everything from feed the homeless and hold a canned food drive to plan daddy-daughter date nights take a polar bear swim and volunteer at Spring Outing. Even though some of the families in the tribe have moved on to different schools, the tribe has remained together. Pedro and the other dads have formed friendships too.
For Arianna, her favorite memory isn't getting dressed up for a date night or taking a trip to the beach. It was a dash through the rain from an activity to their cabin during Spring Outing a few years ago.
For Pedro, the experience has been priceless. As parents, we all make plans to do things with our kids. But, for many of us, life can often get in the way.
For Pedro (and my family too), the program makes it easier for dads to spend special time with their kids. Maybe it's a camping trip you've always wanted to take, but never seem to get around to it. Maybe it's a volunteer program that you wish you had more time to do as a family. Maybe it's just simple experiences to share with your children beyond the usual rush to work and school, games and dance lessons and playdates and birthday parties and the list goes on ...
"These memories will last forever," Pedro said. "There's no way in the world I could have created these memories and opportunities if we were not part of the program."
Registration for Y Guides begins in late August. For more information, click here. Watch the video to hear more from the Rosarios.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday, but, in June, we're featuring local dads.