Ortega Forest families form new tribes for parent-child bonding program

Ortega Forest families form new tribes for parent-child bonding program
Joe “Big Red” Woodlief, the Federation chief for the Native Sons and Daughters of Jacksonville, kicked off a recruiting event at the home of Cooper and Shelley Nightingale Aug. 21. From left, Nightingale and his children, Recruitment Chief Ray “Creaking Oak” Junk, Woodlief and his son, Drew and Carolyn Snowden with their daughters.

While there are many programs and activities available to children that promote individual growth and teach team building, not many have the specific goal to strengthen the parent-child relationship. Thanks to a resurging interest in a nearly 100-year-old program, families on the Westside have a new outlet for father-child bonding.

“I am excited about rekindling the tribal fire on the Westside of Jax. I firmly believe in the ideals of the organization and am committed to helping dads and their children create lifetime bonds,” said Cooper “Soaring Falcon” Nightingale, leader of the Mohican tribe of the Native Sons.

Taking a page from the Native American culture, which cherishes the bond between parent and child, Native Sons and Daughters seeks to fortify the foundations for a positive lifelong relationship that is mutually beneficial and satisfying. Along with the mystique and visually exciting regalia and folklore, the Indian theme creates lifelong memories.

Paddling on the Suwannee is one of many fun outings enjoyed by Native Sons and Daughters.

Paddling on the Suwannee is one of many fun outings enjoyed by Native Sons and Daughters.

The program evolved out of a very successful YMCA program called Indian Guides established in the 1920s and thrived until political correctness concerns led the YMCA to drop funding in 2001. In 2002, Lighthouse, Inc. breathed new life into the program under the new name of Native Sons and Daughters.

Nightingale and his wife, Shelley, hosted a recruiting event at their Ortega Forest home Aug. 21 and many of the interested parents who attended were part of the Indian Guides program when they were young.

Carolyn “Quiet Butterfly” Cantrell Snowden participated in Indian Princesses with her father, Heyward “Big Canoe” Cantrell when she was 5 years old and is excited about helping her husband, Drew “Chief Walking Man,” start the Crow tribe for their daughters, Robin “Brave Horse” and Hallie “Shooting Star.”

Federation Chief Joe “Chief Big Red” Woodlief was not an Indian Guide growing up but became interested in the group when a close friend and his daughter were part of the original Y program and Woodlief witnessed the positive effect it had on the pair.

“I’ve seen how it has affected both kids and dads. My wife had one guy’s wife walk up to her twice and each time say, ‘This has been really good for my son, but it’s been much better for my husband getting out here and doing this,’” said Woodlief, who grew up in Ortega and is a San Marco resident.

Unlike other youth programs, both parent and child must enroll and can choose which fun activities they wish to attend, either monthly tribe events, campouts or citywide pow-wows. Woodlief’s son, Travis “Little Big Red,” said the best part of the program is spending time with his father and his favorite activity is camping.

For more information about Native Sons and Daughters, visit nsdjax.org or email [email protected]

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