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.]