“Testing & Challenging in the Outdoors” in the Process of Initiation

There are some things that words cannot teach. Reading something is not the same as living it, or learning it. By reading something in a book, you may be fooled into thinking ‘I know that’. And so fail to take the journey or have the experiences that actually get you there. … For thousands of years, these secrets had to be earned, by passing through physical ordeals, fasting, vigils, or deeds of courage.  Steve Biddulph (Australian Psychologist & Author) from his most recent book, “The New Manhood”

It’s one thing to be told you have what it takes. It’s another thing altogether to discover that you do, through some trial brought up in an adventure. … It reveals to you what you are made of and writes the lesson on your heart. For masculine initiation is not a spectator sport. It is something that must be entered into.”  John Eldredge (Author) from his book “The Way of the Wild Heart”

My last blog entry emphasized the importance of “Training and Instruction in the Process of Initiation.” It’s true… it’s essential… but just as importantly, a boy, a young man, and even a mature-age man, also needs to be tested and challenged in the outdoors… in adventure.

The late French Author and Nobel Prize winner, Andre Gide, expressed this truth…It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.” How many men today truly know themselves… truly know deep within their innermost beings that they are in fact real men… that they have what it takes to come through in any given situation that requires them to, e.g. fighting for the hearts of their wives and or children, or fighting for a cause greater than themselves? Too few in my experience. Why? Because too few today risk being tested and challenged. Too few have experienced a genuine process of initiation.

I love the words of Steve Biddulph I quoted earlier…There are some things that words cannot teach. Reading something is not the same as living it, or learning it. By reading something in a book, you may be fooled into thinking ‘I know that’. And so fail to take the journey or have the experiences that actually get you there.“ How true is that of most people today. We read books, we watch instruction videos, we attend conferences and seminars, and whilst many of those things may be helpful, they can only assist us in taking part of the journey.


An ancient Chinese proverb reveals the same truth…
“I hear, I forget. I see, I remember. I do, I understand.” We need to understand this. We need to experience things that take us out of our comfort zones… to be in situations that we cannot control, allowing ourselves to be unsettled… so that our deepest fears are revealed, faced, and overcome. We as men need to be initiated as men. Our families and our world need us to be initiated as men… to engage in the process of initiation, which should always include testing and challenging, the outdoors, and adventure.

I invite you to share some of the lessons you’ve learnt through adventure, and in the outdoors, here. And what are some of the ways that you’ve been tested and challenged in the past?

“Training & Instruction” in the Process of Initiation

“The thing we have lost, the ingredient we men ourselves seem to lack, is the inner secrets, the teachings for becoming a strong and solid man.”  Steve Biddulph (Australian psychologist and author) from his most recent book, “The New Manhood”

“Traditionally, 2 things were done to help young men into adulthood. First, they were ‘taken on’ and mentored into adulthood by one or more men who cared about them and taught them important skills for living. And second, at certain stages of this mentoring process, the young men were taken away by the community of older men and “initiated”. This meant being put through some serious growing up processes, including testing, sacred teaching, & new responsibilities.”  Steve Biddulph (Australian psychologist & author) from his book “Raising Boys”

What does it mean to be a real man? It’s a great question! And it’s a question that I myself never had an answer to… until I was 29 years of age… after being married for more than eight years, and having fathered 3 sons at the time. I, like many men, never had a father who prepared me, taught me, instructed me, or trained me in the ways of authentic manhood. In fairness, my Dad, like most other Dads, never had a father himself who provided such things to him, and no man can give what he does not have.

There’s a scene in the movie “Secondhand Lions” where a gang of youths (unfathered and uninitiated young men) encounter a real man… the character of Hub McCann, played by Robert Duvall. I don’t want to give anything away in regards to such a powerful scene, but a few scenes later, Hubb McCann, having earned the right to speak into the lives of those young men, engages them in what seems to be quite a passionate monologue… though the viewer doesn’t get to hear what he’s saying. Looking on from a distance is Hub’s younger brother Garth, played by Michael Caine, and their 14 year old great nephew Walter, played by Haley Joel Osment. Here’s the dialogue that goes on between Walter and Garth…

Walter – “What’s he saying to them?

Garth – “He’s giving them his ‘What every boy needs to know about being a man’ speech. A lot of men have heard that speech over the years. A lot of men.

Oh how I wish that were true. That a lot of men would have heard the ‘What every boy needs to know about being a man’ speech. The truth is… very few have heard such a speech. Very few know what it means to be a real man. Very few know what a real man does. Very few know how a real man treats others. Very few know what a real man devotes his time to… what a real man is prepared to live for, andwhat a real man is prepared to die for. Very few.

The good news is that change is afoot. Part of what fathers and their sons (ages 13 and above) receive during our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures and 4 Night Father-Son Adventures, is just that… training, instruction, imparting, equipping, and empowering. No-one leaves our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures or our 4 Night Father-Son Adventures, without an answer to the question, “What does it mean to be a real man?”. Fathers and sons alike are initiated over the 4 or 5 Nights / 5 or 6 Days, and things for them and their relationships are for the most-part, never the same again.

Our 4 and 5 Night Father-Son Adventures can tend to fill quickly, so please register now to avoid disappointment.
If you’d like to see more photos and read more testimonials from the sons and fathers at our most recent 5 Night Father-Son Adventures, click here.

I hope to see you and your son there.