“You just have to jump in to see how important it is, and not just for the kids.
It’s really something for the dads, too. We have just as much fun as they do and
create these lasting foundations with one another.”
Adventure Guides participate in the 2014 Holiday Parade in
down-town Wilmington. The teepee was designed and created
by the Barefoot tribe led by Dr. Wes Winslett.
T THE START of each
Carolina gather for a fall outing at
Camp Kirkwood outside Burgaw.
The self-appointed names of the
tribes are read, handmade torches
are lit, and the new chiefs are pre-sented.
The nations recognize the
end of each year at Camp Sea Gull
near New Bern, an area that some
of the local dads know from their
“We have a chance to go away
and camp with other kids and
dads, and expose the girls and
ourselves to new activities, but as
someone who used to be a coun-selor
at Camp Sea Gull, it’s always
great to go back and show my
daughters where I used to hang
out,” says Wilmington attorney
Chris Behm, former chief of the Waccamaw tribe.
Behm retired his vest and patches in May, when his second
daughter finished her three-year run with the Adventure Guides. In
his six years with the program, Behm took his daughters on a guided
tour of the Black River, on treasure hunts, and through the process of
building and sometimes successfully sailing a raft at camp.
The idea, he says, isn’t to earn the most badges or accumulate
accolades — though those are available and appreciated, too — but
to spend the time as a tightly knit group and gain valuable experi-ence
with one’s daughter.
“The programs and outings are all about team building,” he says.
Whether the tribes choose activities from a list of suggestions
or organize their own outings, Behm says the program encourages
dads to foster cooperative patterns among the kids, and an appre-ciation
for the nature of family as well as a sense of individual confi-dence
when they learn a new skill.
“These formative years are some you’ll never get back,” Behm
says. “We all say there are things
we’d do of our own volition, but
without the impetus of some kind
of peer pressure, those everyday
experiences tend to stay on a
to-do list. This program takes
spending quality time with your
kids to a whole new and enriching
Dattilo, whose youngest daugh-ter,
Sophia, is entering her final
year as an Adventure Guides and
Princesses participant, says there is
a secondary benefit. It’s also a way
for the dads to form friendships.
“You just have to jump in to
see how important it is, and not
just for the kids,” he says. “It’s really
something for the dads, too. We
have just as much fun as they do
and create these lasting founda-tions
with one another that go way
beyond meeting once a month
with our daughters.”
The program for dads and daughters has been the most popular,
but there has been a recent influx of father-son groups, Maarschalk
says. Retaining participants has proven to be a challenge, but she is
hopeful that word of mouth regarding the unique perspective on familial
bonding versus the typical focus on achievements and badges will bol-ster
After spending years coordinating the Adventure Guides program,
Maarschalk was happy to cede leadership to Horton, who joined the
staff in February after interning under Maarschalk.
Horton wants to grow all areas of the Adventure Guides and
“We’re hoping that we can get through to some surrounding
areas with the need to experience the program, to feel the energy,
and really branch out,” Horton says. “It helps people to know, I think,
that we welcome nontraditional families too. The program is open to
kids and their stepfathers, uncles, even grandparents if that’s what
the situation happens to be.”
PHOTO BY KYLEE MAARSCHALK