Glowing Cougars | May 16, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Living - May 16, 2008

Glowing Cougars

Dads and daughters strengthen their bond through Native American culture

by Meghan Neal

The Glowing Cougar tribe opens the circle by beating the drum one time for every father and daughter at the meeting.

The girls sit on their dads' laps wearing Native American costumes and big smiles. Then the chief lights a candle.

"Who can tell me what the flame represents?" asks Aldo Dossola, aka "Chief Raging Bull."

His daughter, "Glowing Sunset," shoots up her hand and answers, "The flame represents the light that each of us brings to the circle."

The Glowing Cougars are part of the YMCA's Adventure Guides program. Originally called Indian Princesses, the program develops the father-daughter relationship through Native American culture and values.

"I think there's probably even more responsibility as a father of a daughter than as a father of a boy, because you are setting the bar," said Dossola. "I'm a believer that as a father you are the first male figure and kind of the standard by which all men will be measured."

The Glowing Cougars meet once a month at a member's home. There are 10 dads and 13 girls, ages 5-12, in the tribe.

"We look forward to this because it's the only thing that's daddies and daughters only," one father said at last month's meeting.

"I think sometimes the wives get jealous because we're getting all this good one-on-one time," Dossola joked.

But the rest of the family does get to join in on the fun, during monthly activities sponsored by the YMCA, like camping and ski trips, bowling, ice skating and kite flying.

Each meeting follows a flowing sequence of rituals and traditions that even the youngest girls know by heart - the flow is part of what makes their circle unique, Dossola said.

One of the rituals is "proud daddy moments." The dads take turns sharing an instance when their daughter made them proud during the past month. The girls love this part, said the chief.

"I think it builds esteem, because here's a daddy they look up to and respect and admire, saying good things about them," he said.

Fathers go around the circle applauding their daughters for various deeds - helping take care of younger siblings, excelling in school, practicing piano, or more abstract achievements like choosing the harder right over the easier wrong.

In another ritual, called "Wampum," the girls can earn money donations from their fathers by going above and beyond to help out their family or community.

After two years of collecting these donations the tribe recently decided to give $1,000 toward the YMCA's fundraising campaign to build a new facility on the Alamo-Danville border.

The YMCA hosts about 40 Adventure Guide groups in the Mt. Diablo region, including several in Danville and Alamo. Though some groups have since strayed from the program's original theme, Dossola feels there's a lot to be learned from Native American culture.

"I think the biggest things are a respect for nature, and a spirituality and a wisdom in how they live their life and how they view the world," he said.

Near the end of each meeting a daddy will tell a story from Native American legend. Dossola told one of the girls' favorites, a story he remembers from his own childhood.

A wise old man tells his grandson that inside all of us are a good wolf and a bad wolf, and they are at war with each other, the story begins. The good wolf wants us to do kind, good deeds, and the bad wolf wants us to do bad, mean-spirited things.

"Which wolf wins the war?" the boy asks his grandfather. And the old man replies, "The one that we feed."

The dads will reference the story when the girls are faced with tough choices, Dossola said. "You can say, 'Are you feeding the good wolf right now or are you feeding the bad wolf?' And they usually know the answer right away."

The meeting ends with a final ritual: The tribe chants "Glowing Cougars," first quietly and then louder and louder until it rings throughout the house. At the height of the noise they blow the candle out, and the circle is closed.

"We joke around that everyone seems to be enjoying it so much that they're going to be seniors in high school and still be going to circle meetings," said the chief. "We're just creating a vast set of memories."


Like this comment
Posted by dossolas daughter+ friends
a resident of Del Amigo Continuation High School
on Sep 23, 2011 at 9:21 pm

we r awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Like this comment
Posted by cardinal
a resident of Diablo
on Sep 24, 2011 at 12:17 pm

They're teaching them how to be cougars? Is this necessary, or even a good idea?

Like this comment
Posted by mother of a former adventure guide
a resident of Diablo
on Sep 26, 2011 at 7:48 am

What a lovely story! All the Glowing Cougar tribe dads are to be commended for their dedication to their daughters! In an age when too many girls spend way too much time on Facebook and other impersonal interactions, it is wonderful to know that good values are being instilled and precious family relationships are being fostered through the Adventure Guides program.