"Thou shalt do this!" Hedy proclaimed, and then she signed us up.
I'm certain I would never have signed up on my own but 30 years later, as I reflect back, I realize how much I would have missed. In 1981, 5-year-old Jade became an Indian Princess, and I was along for one wild ride.
The program started in 1954. During my family's years of participation, it was called Indian Princesses. Today, the YMCA of Orange County employs the more politically correct Y-Princesses.
The Princesses program runs from kindergarten through fourth grade. After each of my girls and I completed the program, we advanced to the next level, called Trail Mates, and did that through junior high school.
Our group of dads and daughters became so tight-knit that we remained together unofficially after Trail Mates and continued adventure trips through high school.
Shortly after we joined Indian Princesses, Jade and I were confronted with the challenge of selecting our Indian names.
Jade chose the lilting and ethereal, Shooting Star.
I came up with what I felt was its masculine counterpart, Falling Planet.
We were members of the Choctaw Tribe of Newport-Mesa's Naranja Nation.
My youngest daughter, Melissa, joined the program three years later when she was in kindergarten.
We selected a different tribe so that she could establish herself as something other than "Jade's little sister."
We became members of the Arapaho Tribe. Melissa's name was Little Fawn. Though an obvious non sequitur, I remained Falling Planet.
I was involved in the program for more than a dozen years — and it changed my life. I like to believe that my daughters' lives were enhanced as well. They're now wives and mothers, but we still discuss the activities we enjoyed together so many moons ago.
We attended regular tribal meetings a couple of times a month, where we worked on crafts, told stories and chowed down on delicious refreshments supplied by the moms.