‘Threatening’ and ‘Disrespectful Behavior’ Leads to Camp’s Ban of New Canaan YMCA ‘Adventure Guides’ Program

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Following what’s described as disruptive and rude behavior during an outing last weekend, a father-child adventure program run through the New Canaan YMCA has been banned from using a camp in the Catskills, officials say.

A YMCA based in Claryville, N.Y. has “decided not to invite” the New Canaan Y’s Adventure Guide/Princess program back “as a result of several incidents that occurred that go against their principles, code of conduct, and how they want to deliver their mission,” New Canaan YMCA Executive Director Craig Panzano said Thursday in an email to parents.

Incidents that the Frost Valley YMCA’s Board of Directors and CEO cited in reaching their decision included “disregard of wearing headdresses in communal areas per our direction, lack of supervision of our youth that resulted in harassing and ‘threatening’ behavior towards other youth participants from another organization, poor behavior in the dining hall, and an incident that involved rude and disrespectful behavior by a ‘chief’ towards one of their staff,” Panzano said in the email, obtained by NewCanaanite.com.

“The resistance by a select few who do not support the New Canaan Y’s direction to ‘hang up the headdress’ and to exhibit appropriate behavior is disappointing. We also understand that it is not appropriate to ‘punish the whole class for the actions of the few’ even though Frost Valley has. With this in mind we will be evaluating this program in the very near future to determine its future direction and the continuation of this program as it currently exists. As this evaluation progresses we are happy to entertain your input.”

He added: “With the Memorial Day Parade right around the corner we remind you that there is to be no display of a Native American theme. This policy was adopted and implemented last year.”

According to the YMCA’s website, the Adventure Guides—formerly known as the “Indian Guides”—is a father-son and father-daughter program serving kids in kindergarten through fourth grade that is designed to instill “closer family relationships between parents and their children” through activities that include seasonal outings. 

The spring outing to the Frost Valley YMCA was scheduled for April 26 to 28. At a cost of $180 per person, participants stayed in heated cabins and lodges, according to the Adventure Guides’ promotional materials, with activities that include archery, boating, hiking, arts-and-crafts and a ropes course.

It isn’t clear what the alleged threatening or disrespectful behavior involved or whether the rule regarding what dress is disallowed during the Memorial Day Parade went into effect before or after last year’s parade. Inquiries sent to the New Canaan and Frost Valley YMCAs were not immediately answered. 

Panzano acknowledges in his email that the allegations are Frost Valley’s, “not ours or mine.”

“We can all argue that this is fabricated, exaggerated, or untrue but the bottom line is that this is their YMCA and we were their guest,” he said in the email. “As a result we have lost the privilege of returning to one of the nicest and most respected conference/camp centers in the YMCA network. This is a Y and staff that are accustomed to serving very diverse groups and communities and are trained to handle complex challenges.”

The Frost Valley outing has a “no alcohol” rule, according to the Y’s promotional materials. “Please be respectful of those around you (you’ll be in close quarters for the weekend) and abide by the policies designed to ensure your enjoyment of the weekend,” an informational sheet on the program says.

[Note: The photo thumbnail attached to this article is from the 2015 Memorial Day Parade, years before the New Canaan YMCA adopted its policy regarding Native American garb as well as this most recent incident.]

10 thoughts on “‘Threatening’ and ‘Disrespectful Behavior’ Leads to Camp’s Ban of New Canaan YMCA ‘Adventure Guides’ Program

  1. My son has attended Frost Valley overnight camp for 3 years. I can not tell you how wonderful the Frost Valley staff is. The way they run their programs, dedicate to the underprivileged is amazing. They are very clear with all their programs. Whether it be summer, fall family programs, winter etc. They are very old school, no phones, no alcoholic beverages at family/ group outings. The NC “Indian guides ” program has been under fire for years. From dads being intoxicated at overnights and unruly. I’m sorry, you are asking to use a facility and disrespecting that facilities rules. Yes you should be kicked out. Grow up NC parents, if you have to drink and be unruly, and disrespect the host rules, no you should not be invited back. Frost Valley is a great camp site and does a ton for many underprivileged families

  2. This is a long time coming. This program, or at least this outing, has been known as the single biggest excuse for new canaan men to spend the night partying at a camp w their friends while their daughters or (in the case of y guides) sons “sleep”. Everyone knows this. Some of us older folks will remember the infamous keg kicked onto the fire explosion some years ago (that being said, I do have mad love for the “offending” dad)…..
    someone’s head is in the sand at the Y in new canaan if they don’t know about the violations of the no alcohol rule, because the rest of us know what goes on.
    Personally, I find It rather pathetic that a bunch of dads can’t get together and just simply enjoy the time with their child and nature and some friends around without getting drunk. I’m sure I’ll make lots of friends with this post, but then again, I dont Really care to be friends w people who behave like this.

  3. Parents, get a grip and grow up. Children ignore other adults direction in favor of their parents blatant disregard for rules. I see it all the time. I was yelled at by a parent when I asked their child to not throw a rock at a swan. she said “he didn’t do it” while the child was totally honest as he was about 5 looked at her and said, “yes I did Mom”. She was of course, busy on her cell phone at the time. Entitled parents raising even more clueless entitled children.

  4. If you get banned from Frost Valley, there’s something wrong with you. Frost valley = good old fashioned wholesome fun.

  5. Those fathers need to make a public apology by listing their names to the Town of New Canaan in the Advertiser, The New Canaanite and to our YMCA and Frost Valley . Also, it would not hurt them as a group to return to Frost Valley and do volunteer work for the same amount of time the hospitality was extended to them.

  6. These are probably the same people who are complaining about being ticketed for overtime parking, too! Rules are for other people…

  7. To the person with the Charlotte, N.C.-based IP address trying to comment as ‘Running Bull’ with the ‘bigchief@gmail.com’ email address: All comments on New Canaanite are gated, so they’re manually approved by me. I also require full and verifiable first and last names. Try re-submitting your comments under a real name. I look forward to seeing you in plainclothes at the Memorial Day Parade. Please email or phone me if you have any questions, editor@newcanaanite.com 203-817-1278.

  8. It is a shame, Frost Valley is a beautiful spot!!! I enjoyed this program as a child in the 70s, and am glad it still exists. The same bad behavior was there 40 years ago! I’m still looking forward to signing up in the fall with my son when we move to NC.

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