5 Essentials for Raising a Teenage Boy

It is extremely rare that I share something from a guest blogger. I think I’ve only ever done so, on just one other occasion before. But when I read the following article by Mike McCormick, I knew I had to share it with all of the intentional fathers in my spheres of influence. He speaks my language, and the content is good and true… everything I’ve discovered personally as I’ve raised, and continued to raise, my own 4 sons into authentic manhood, and everything I’ve witnessed as I’ve guided fathers and their teenage sons (and daughters too for that matter) throughout our numerous Father-Son and Dad & Daughter Adventure experiences, over the last 7+ years.


 

Coming-of-age stories are some of the oldest and most beloved tales in human history—from ancient mythologies to classical literature to Hollywood blockbusters. Most of them tell of a young man’s journey to manhood and how a guru comes alongside him and shows him a new way. The story pattern is always the same and never grows old: the young man resists his initial training from his master, he struggles to find his inner resolve, and then ventures out to put his new-found strength to the test.

As in these timeless classics, every teenage boy needs to be guided into manhood, and there’s no better person to do this than a father or a male mentor. It needs to be an active and meaningful process because, let’s face it: getting the attention of today’s teenager in this digital age is no easy matter.

Every young man needs an older man to prepare him for and launch him on the journey to manhood. For whatever reason, teenage boys require a catalyst to lead them out of their childhood and into the next stage of maturation. Most cultures across the globe recognize this phenomenon and actively initiate their teenage boys into adulthood.

As a father or male mentor who’s already been on the journey himself, you are the perfect teacher—no matter how imperfect you may feel! If you are the father of a teenage boy, he needs you to step up and step into his life in a whole new way. It doesn’t take gobs of time, just intentionality. And you don’t even have to be a dad to help raise up the next generation of men; mentors, coaches, teachers, grandpas, uncles or brothers are encouraged too.

 

 

 

Here are five essentials to help any man give a teenage boy what he most secretly craves: the roadmap to manhood:

1. Tell him your story.

Don’t tell him any old story. Tell him your story. Every man has a story, and like it or not your story is the biggest influence on the kind of man he will one day become. There’s a good bet he’s picked up some bits and pieces about your life over the years, but he needs to hear your full story. Sit down and tell him who you are as a man and the highs and lows of your life. Tell him the pains, failures and struggles you’ve experienced, as well as your highlights. Tell him your regrets and what you’ve learned from the choices you’ve made because chances are he’s going to follow down a similar path.

It’s most important to share from the heart and be vulnerable. Many dads won’t take this important step with their son because they either don’t want to get knocked off a pedestal or they are too ashamed of their past and want to forget about it. Please know that your story, no matter how imperfect, is essential to your young man’s growth and development.

Sharing your story with your son brings him into your “circle of trust,” which is a euphoric feeling for any young man. It also opens the door for further conversations; he’ll be more likely seek you out for advice in the future. And he will see clearly that adversity is part of life and he shouldn’t be surprised or scared by it. Your story will help equip him to walk confidently into whatever challenges come his way.

2. Give him a roadmap before he starts the journey.


Men are famous for throwing the instruction book to the side, plowing ahead and relying on our own wits to complete a project, or getting hopelessly lost before we ask for directions. Usually when I do this I find myself backtracking to square one just to figure out what went wrong. Similarly, teenage boys do better when they start out with well-defined guidelines for their journey to manhood.

The best gift a dad can ever give his teenage son is the roadmap to manhood before he ever starts his trip. I taught my teenage sons six “guideposts” to communicate what a man says and does in the world: accept responsibility, lead courageously, pretend about nothing, journey with God, protect your heart, and engage in deep and meaningful relationships.

You may have a different concept of manhood and want to communicate something completely different, and that’s ok. Just communicate what matters most to you! In today’s world, being a good role model isn’t enough. Your son’s concept of masculinity is being shaped by the Internet, media and his misinformed friends. Dads can no longer sit idly by and let this happen.

3. Let him know he has what it takes.

Our teenagers live in a mixed-up world that bombards them with non-stop messages that skew their perspective on life. The predominant message in our society is that manhood is all about the accumulation of power, possessions and prestige. No wonder most teenage boys are feeling underequipped and just plain confused.

Don’t believe the tough guy façade. Teenage boys are scared they won’t measure up to the culture’s definition of manhood, and there aren’t many safe places out there to talk about it. Boys at this age are notoriously vicious about putting each other down and exploiting any weakness. Rarely are they ever affirmed for who they are. It’s so important during those teenage years to hear words of affirmation that let them know the journey is worth it and they have all that’s required to figure it out. While they may be a very long way from manhood, hearing positive messages is crucial to a young man’s development and maturation. Here are some examples of affirmations to use with your son:

“You’re going to do great in this world because …”
“You will make an awesome father someday because …”
“You have amazing gifts to share with the world like …”

It’s sure is easy to slip into negativity with your teenager because, quite frankly, he can be maddening at times. But do your best to keep it positive.

4. Make sure to keep it real too.

While teenage boys certainly need important affirmations from older men, be careful not to heap on too much praise just to bolster their self-esteem. Teenage boys have a great “BS” detector and nothing makes a teenage boy cringe faster than false flattery. It’s important that dads “keep it real” with their teenage sons.

They need to know that life is no longer simply cake and ice cream, and that more is required of them. During those teenage years somebody needs to challenge them, call them out, and help them make sense of things when they are prone to take the easy path or make the reckless choice. Remember, men are not just born, they are made. Teenage boys need to bump up into something (or somebody) they can’t control, manipulate or bamboozle. Teenage boys don’t respect anything they get for free, so somebody needs to keep putting price tags on things for them and encouraging them forward.

5. Take him on adventures.

While they often appear lazy and disinterested, teenage boys yearn to be tested and pushed beyond the edge of their limits. Our young men enjoy a false sense of control because most of life can be accessed by the touch of a cell phone, joystick or keystroke. It’s hard to find activities these days that take young men out of their comfort zones and into the wild. Extracurricular activities like sports, robotics, band, theater, or youth groups can all teach valuable life lessons, but at the end of the day, these are all structured activities. While amusement parks, sports games, music concerts, video games, monster truck rallies are all fine father-son activities, at the end of the day they are just entertainment.

Today’s teenage boys need to encounter the wild—where life is unpredictable and anything can happen. Too many of today’s fathers are so wrapped up in our kids’ activities and enjoying our own personal comforts that we’ve forgotten to take our boys on adventures and teach them the lessons that only nature can teach. The opportunities to adventure are all around us: kayaking, mission trips, service projects, camping, fishing, canoeing, surfing, hunting, hiking, etc. Seize them with your son!

 

Mike McCormick is the author of ManQuest: Leading Teenage Boys into Manhood, a guidebook designed for fathers to have intentional conversations and engage in activities that help boys become men. Mike is married with two teenage sons and a daughter and lives in Birmingham, Michigan.

Something Every Parent Needs to Know

A person’s life is made up of a series of stages or seasons. Between each stage or season of a person’s life, there is a period of transition, and those periods of transition are typically always the time when a person experiences his or her most difficult times.

Typically the most difficult period of transition in a person’s life, is the transition between childhood and adulthood, known as adolescence. Everything changes. And whilst change is good and healthy, change is typically always difficult. And during adolescence, when a boy and a girl are attempting to discover their respective masculine and feminine identities… those difficulties are often exacerbated by the isolation that is typically experienced during those years.

Sociologists have actually performed numerous extensive studies, and reported on those studies, which reveal my earlier claim of adolescence being the most difficult time in a person’s life, to be true. Below is a Personal Wellbeing Index Diagram, prepared by Dr Adrian Tomyn from the School of Health Sciences, at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, which graphically illustrates the correlation between a person’s satisfaction with life, and a person’s age. I hope you find it as shocking and disturbing as I do.


As a parent, there is no greater time to richly invest into the life of your son or daughter, than between the ages of 13 and 18 years. Doing so, will undoubtedly change the trajectory of their lives, for good. That said, your relationship with your child prior to them entering their teenage years, is foundational to the years that follow.

If you are a parent of a teenage son or daughter, then we urge you to consider registering for one of the following Father-Son or Dad & Daughter Adventure experiences in either 2015 or 2016, now…

1. A 4 Night Father-Son Adventure in the Brindabella Ranges of NSW, North of Canberra, here.
2. A 5 Night Father-Son Adventure in Tropical North Queensland, here.
3. A 4 Night Dad & Daughter Adventure in Tropical North Queensland, here.

Ceremony in the Process of Initiation

In many cultures throughout history, a teenage boy is taken through some type of ritual to mark his official passage into manhood. I believe one of the greatest tragedies of Western culture today is the absence of this type of ceremony.”  Dr Robert Lewis (Author) from his best-selling book, “Raising a Modern Day Knight”

Every knight remembers his dubbing as the first day of his existence.”  Georges Duby (French, influential Medieval Historian, specializing in the social and economic history of the Middle Ages)

Ceremony marks the transition from one season to another. It says powerfully, forcefully, and regally, “From this point forward, life is going to be different!”


The most incredible man I’ve ever met would have to be Dr Robert Lewis.
He is a man who has lived well. He has lived a life of great strength and courage, honour and integrity. He’s been like a father to me… a mentor… and I’m honoured to call him a friend. In Robert’s best-selling book, “Raising a Modern Day Knight”… he lists four common characteristics that every good ceremony possesses. I felt it important to share them here…

1. Memorable ceremonies are costly. The more time, thought, planning, effort, and money you give to a celebration, the more memorable it will be. Memorability  grows in proportion to cost. The more you give, the greater the impact.

2. Memorable ceremonies ascribe value. By setting aside time, making an effort, spending money, and employing meaningful ceremony, we declare the high value of an individual. Effective ceremony says, you are important! And this moment is important!

3. Memorable ceremonies employ symbols.

4. Memorable ceremonies empower a life with vision.

One of my personal favourite moments from each of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures, and our 4 Night Father-Son Adventures, would have to be the Initiation Ceremony on the final evening. The look upon the face of every son who kneels before his father, as he listens intently to what it is his father is calling him out of (boyhood), and up and into (the higher ground of authentic manhood), is simply priceless. Their eyes are always as wide as saucers. It is a moment in that young man’s life’s journey that he will never forget, for as long as he lives. The culmination of a week of adventure & fun, and training & instruction, alongside his Dad or significant male other, within a community of men… sealed by a ceremony. Now that’s a real process of initiation in action.

You can find a list of dates for all of our upcoming 4 and 5 Night Father-Son Adventures, and all of our Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventure Weekends here.


Read more testimonials from fathers & sons
, and see more photos, from one of our previous 5 Night Father-Son Adventures here.

Watch our short video in the form of a movie trailer here.

For those of us who are married… we’ve experienced first-hand the power and weightiness of ceremony and celebration. But how many of you have experienced such a ceremony and celebration when it came to your journey to become a man? We’d love to hear from you.

“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.

A Community of Men in the Process of Initiation

For 95 percent of human history, boys weren’t launched out into adulthood, they were welcomed into it, into a lifelong support network that would work to ensure their contribution would be a good one.  Steve Biddulph (Australian Psychologist & Author)

A boy becomes a man only through the active intervention of his father and the fellowship of men.”  John Eldredge (Author)

John Eldredge in his book “The Way of the Wild Heart”, goes on to say… “Far too much has fallen on the shoulders of the Father alone. It takes a company of men to bring a boy into the masculine world, and to bring young men along in their maturity.”

I’ve felt the weight of that burden myself over the years. Why? Because too few men today
experience real community with other men. Most men have male acquaintances… guys they work alongside of… guys they share a drink with socially… but very few actually ever experience real friendships with other men, who share a common purpose, larger than themselves, like initiating this generation of boys into authentic manhood.

But I have been extremely proactive over the last decade to ensure my sons would be able to have other good, masculine influences to draw upon, and be mentored by… men who have skills, gifts, talents, and abilities that I myself lack. But none of that has come easy. I have had to selectively seek out other men, to offer them a vision worth pursuing, to inspire them, to lead them, to serve them, and in some cases, actually mentor and father them.

Together as a band-of-brothers, we have experienced adventures… with, and without our sons present. We have invited them and involved them, in our missions to various communities where we’ve helped men to establish band of brothers themselves. And we have affirmed, validated, and played a part in initiating one another’s sons. You can read part of my eldest son, Brandon’s journey here, and part of my second eldest son, Isaac’s journey here. All of my sons know… what too few kids do these days… that they have men, other than Dad, who love them, who have invested into them, and who are there for them… no matter what!


So Dad, if you want your boy to one day be a real man
, then you too must be intentional in enlisting other men, and establishing a community of men of your own. You’ll have to fight to find them, and you’ll have to fight to keep them, but it is worth it!

One of the things that I love about our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures and our 4 Night Father-Son Adventures, is that a community of men are brought together from all over Australia, and the world, for a single purpose, to ensure the success of a great mission… to initiate our sons. You can register for our next 5 Night Father-Son Adventure here, or for our next 4 Night Father-Son Adventure here.

You can see some photographs and read the testimonials from the fathers and the sons, from one of our previous 5 Night Father-Son Adventures here.

So how about you? Were you as a boy ever invited into a community of men by your father or another man? And what about now? Have you made it a priority to be a part of a community of men… to find, or establish one yourself, for yourself, and for you to invite and welcome your sons into when they enter their teenage years?

A Dad’s Role in the Process of Initiation

There’s a saying in the South: ”No man is a man until his father tells him he is.”  Burt Reynolds  (Actor)

The glory of sons are their fathers.”  King Solomon

Hollywood Actor Burt Reynolds, was widely viewed in the 1970s and early 1980s as the quintessential man. Appearing in over 50 movies, I remember Burt Reynolds from his roles in the “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Cannonball Run” movies, and their subsequent sequels. Almost every man at the time wanted to be just like Burt Reynolds… an action man and sex symbol.

Yet few were aware that he was just like the rest of us men… acting and pretending… hiding behind a persona that we men typically tend to create for ourselves… of what we believe society requires a man to be and do. It wasn’t until an interview with Dotson Rader in 1992, at the age of 56 years, that the truth of this in Burt Reynolds’ life was revealed. This is what he had to say…

“There’s a saying in the South: “No man is a man until his father tells him he is.” It means that someday when you’re 30 or 40, grown up, this man – whom you respect and love and want to love you – puts his arms around you and says, “You know, you’re a man now, and you don’t have to do crazy things and get into fistfights and all that to defend the honour of men. You don’t have to prove anything. You’re a man, and I love you.” We never hugged, we never kissed, we never said, “I love you”. No, we never cried.” After pausing for a moment, Reynolds went on to add… “So what happened was that I was desperately looking for someone who’d say, “You’re grown up, and I approve and love you, and you don’t have to do these things anymore.” I was lost inside. I couldn’t connect. I was incomplete. I didn’t know then what I needed to know.”

Those descriptions… “lost inside”, unable to “connect”, “incomplete”, and not knowing what I need to know… are what I see and hear in the stories of the majority of men today… or at least those who are willing and courageous enough to be real. And I have to agree with Burt Reynolds as to why that is the case… because most men today are for the most-part, “unfathered”. You see I believe that the word father is most appropriately used as a verb, rather than a noun. As Author Kent Nerburn said… “It is much easier to become a father than to be one.” A boy and or young man needs a father… his Dad, or significant male other (Uncle, Grandfather, mentor, coach, teacher, Pastor etc.) to bestow masculinity upon him… to guide him along the path of authentic manhood… to love him, to affirm and bless him, to offer practical training and instruction, and when the time is right… to call him out of boyhood, and up and into authentic manhood.

Of course many Dads today feel like they don’t have what it takes to offer this to their sons, predominantly because they themselves didn’t receive what they needed to receive from their own Dads. We at ‘Fathering Adventures’ equip, enable, and empower Dads to do this, and to do it well. It is for that reason we designed and deliver our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures, and our 4 Night Father-Son Adventures. You can register for our next 5 Night Father-Son Adventure, or 4 Night Father-Son Adventure here.

You can see some photographs and read the testimonials from the fathers and the sons, from one of our previous 5 Night Father-Son Adventures here.

So how about you? Did you have a “father” who knew what you needed and provided it for you? If so, please take the time to honour him, and his efforts, here. If you didn’t… sadly you’re not alone. Would you have liked to have had a “father” who did? Do you intend to do things differently?

And a Happy Fathers Day for this Sunday to all of you Dads here in Australia. Well done for making your kids and your relationships with them such a high priority.

The Process of Initiation – from Boyhood to Manhood

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”  St Paul

In many tribal cultures, it is said that if boys were not initiated into manhood, if they were not shaped by the skills and love of elders, then they would destroy the culture. If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth.  Michael Meade  (Author)

Why are really alive and mature men so rare today? Steve Biddulph (Australian Psychologist and author) in his most recent book, “The New Manhood”, provides the answer. Because the majority of boys and young men today are not guided through “a carefully managed process” of initiation… something that all cultures offered in some form, prior to the commencement of the Industrial Revolution 300 years ago.

In Australia, the prison population is made up predominantly of men. As at 30 June 2005, 93.2% of prisoners in Australia were men. It is men who commit the overwhelming majority of sex crimes, serious motoring offences, burglaries, robberies, and violent assaults etc. Why might that be? I believe that Michael Meade has already provided the answer… because boys in our culture are not “initiated into manhood”.

So what then should a process of masculine initiation include?

  1. Dad, or a significant male other (Uncle, Grandfather, mentor, coach, teacher etc.)
  2. A Community of Men
  3. Training & Instruction
  4. Testing and challenging in the outdoors… adventure
  5. An Initiation Ceremony

Simply click on any of the above-mentioned essential ingredients, to explore further.

Our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures and our 4 Night Father-Son Adventures have been designed, and are delivered, to provide Dads with each of those essential ingredients to ensure that their sons are initiated into authentic manhood. Register for one of our upcoming 5 Night Father-Son Adventures or for our next 4 Night Father-Son Adventure.

You can see some photographs and read testimonials from the fathers and the sons, from one of our previous 5 Night Father-Son Adventures here.

You can watch a short video in the form of a movie trailer, of what you can expect from one of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures here.

I’m eager to read stories from those Dads who have initiated their sons into manhood – What did that process mean to you? What did the process mean to your son?

Inside one of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures

One week ago today marked the close of yet another successful, and more importantly, significant 5 Night Father-Son Adventure. Because we do so many more Adventure Weekends (for boys & girls aged between 7 & 13 years), and because those experiences are always so much more powerful than one ever expects, I myself can tend to forget just how incredibly life-changing and life-giving our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures actually are.

We had a full contingent of twelve (12) Father-Son pairs join us for their adventure of a lifetime, and once again, they came from all over Australia, and the world. Two (2) father-son pairs flew Down Under from Washington State in the U.S.A. (Seattle and Spokane), five (5) father-son pairs flew North from Victoria (2 pairs from Melbourne, one pair from Ballarat, & 2 more pairs from Wodonga), two (2) pairs flew North from New South Wales (one pair from Sydney, and the other pair from Wollongong), and finally three (3) pairs joined us from Queensland (2 pairs flew North from Brisbane, and just one pair were Townsville locals).

In total, five (5) of those twelve (12) fathers had experienced one of our adventures prior to this one.
Two (2) of the Dads had brought their eldest sons to a previous 5 Night Father-Son Adventure, and three (3) of them had brought their youngest sons to a previous Father-Son Adventure Weekend. So that was a real compliment in itself… it’s not just us as ‘Fathering Adventures’ who believe that we’re doing something incredible… helping to strengthen lives, relationships, and families… the very fabric of our society.

Our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures have been designed to fulfill a 2-fold purpose:

  1. To deepen and strengthen the relationship and bond between a Dad and his son, which is foundational for everything else, and
  2. To provide an environment where a father can successfully guide his son out of boyhood (no matter how old the son may be), and into young manhood, or authentic manhood… a rite-of-passage experience if you will.


So what are some of the things that we do
to achieve a richer relationship between a father and son?
Firstly we ensure that
these experiences are
FUN, enjoyable and exciting, set in the midst of great beauty… reefs, rainforests, mountains, rivers, islands, and beaches. I mean let’s be completely honest Dads. How much fun are we to be around for the most-part? When was the last time you had fun with your son? When was the last time you had fun yourself? Secondly, you intentionally have TIME together… sharing experiences together… just the two of you. No distractions, and no greater priority… at least whilst you’re with us. And finally, there are intimate moments shared together… times where each Dad really affirms his son (after being coached first of course), and then an intentional discussion over lunch on the day of the hike.

And what do we do to assist the Dads in guiding their sons out of boyhood, and into young manhood, or authentic manhood, depending on their age? Firstly, we provide a community of men… made up of every father and son present. Secondly, most of what we do is done in the outdoors. As much fun as each of our outdoor adventures are, the majority of them also provide a degree of testing and challenging… necessary for a boy to have his core question “Do I have what it takes?”, answered well, and done so once again, within a community of men. Thirdly, we provide training & instruction… multimedia presentations each evening that speak into the relationship and roles of fathers & sons, and the difference between conventional manhood (still a form of boyhood really) and authentic manhood etc. And finally, the week culminates in a form of ceremony… where each Dad is given the opportunity (once again after receiving some coaching beforehand) to officially call his son up and into either young manhood or authentic manhood (depending on the age of the son of course)… thereby initiating him… providing a moment in time that his son can point to, as being the moment he left boyhood behind.


Anyhow, enough about what we do and why we do it…
let’s now hear from a number of the fathers and sons, and what they had to say about their recent 5 Night Father-Son Adventure experience… followed by some links to more photographs.

Feedback from the Sons

This experience has meant a lot to me. It has been a wonderful time with my Dad. My favourite memories were talking to my Dad on the hike, and the initiation ceremony.”  (Mitchell – Age 16 – Melbourne, VIC)

This experience has meant a lot more to me than I thought it would. I got to know my Dad more. I learnt a lot about myself, the good qualities I already have, and the qualities I need to improve on to become a better man. I loved scuba diving on the reef, and I loved meeting new people who I’ll never forget. I learnt many, many, many things this week, but if I were to summarize, I now know what a real man is, and I now know how to overcome youth and its challenges .”  (Shaun – Age 15 – Townsville, QLD)

This week was an opportunity to connect more with my father, thus resulting in a greater love and understanding of one another . White-Water Rafting was my favourite adventure activity, especially the way that our crew had to work together as a team.”  (William – Age 15 – Ballarat, VIC)

This experience has meant a tonne to me. I found out things about myself I never knew, and I found a strong foundation for my relationship with my Dad. I have grown as much as a young man could grow in just 5 nights / 6 days. The best part about this week for me was all of the time I had with my Dad, the time with friends, and the white-water rafting.”  (Ben – Age 14 – Melbourne, VIC)

This week had a lot of activities which I greatly enjoyed, and it was a chance to hang with my Dad for a while. I loved scuba diving and white-water rafting.”  (Nate – Age 14 – Seattle, WA, U.S.A.)

This week has meant so much. I have formed a stronger relationship with my father. My favourite part of this week was spending time with my father. To bond with him and to hear him say that he is proud of me meant so much. I have also become more confident in myself. I have also come closer to God due to Ben from Melbourne, one of the sons on this camp. He helped me to realise that I don’t need material possessions to be “happy”. I need God. He is proud of his faith and talked to me about how he does not care what he looks like, or what others think of him. He inspired me to form a stronger relationship with God. I learnt this week that I need to believe in myself, and venture outside my comfort zone. Thank you for an amazing week.”  (Jake – Age 13 – Wodonga, VIC)

Feedback from the Dads

This experience has actually revealed to me just how much I really love my son. Without question, my favourite memory was when I affirmed my son in front of all of the other fathers.”  (Mark V. – Age 55 – Brisbane, QLD)

This week has been a great opportunity to spend time with my son… to see more of his spirit, and to learn more about myself. I loved the white-water rafting, the mountain talk, and the initiation ceremony. I’ve come to realise that I need to step up, speak up, and be more intentional.”  (Mark M. – Age 52 – Brisbane, QLD)

This week has given me the opportunity to better connect with my son, and to learn more about being an authentic man. It was also a great adventure and a holiday. I loved having the opportunity to affirm my son. I enjoyed every aspect of this experience… the people, the activities, and the learning. I have learnt to be a better man / father, and the importance of spending more and more quality time with my son.”  (Barry – Age 51 – Sydney, N.S.W.)

This experience has impressed on me the value of being a father and the need to lead and guide my son into how to be an authentic man. This has helped my son and I communicate more closely that we have ever done so before.”  (Greg – Age 51 – Ballarat, VIC)

This has been a great time. Tiring, but fun and stimulating. It’s been so much more than just a vacation, and it’s been a good introduction to manhood for my son. I loved the white-water rafting, and seeing my son so happy after his first scuba dive.”  (Martin – Age 51 – Seattle, WA, U.S.A.)

This has been a special time in my life to create a memorable experience with my son – beyond just the fun, but also to deal with some meaningful issues, such as calling my son to his future.”  (Robert – Age 46 – Wodonga, VIC)

This experience has met and exceeded my hopes yet again. It has provided a space to enable me to reveal more of me to him, and to discover more of him. It has allowed me to direct him, encourage him, affirm him, and see him emerge as more of the man he was meant to be. I loved seeing the tears in my son’s eyes when I affirmed him, and the amazing letter he wrote to me. It has deepened our bond as father & son.”  (Peter – Age 45 – Melbourne, VIC)

This week has helped me to connect with my son and to show him the way to young manhood in a way that I couldn’t have done otherwise. The initiation ceremony will remain in my memory forever.”  (Shane – Age 43 – Wodonga, VIC)

This week has been a wonderful time with my eldest son, great adventure, time with great men, excellent instruction on manhood, and in particular an outstanding opportunity to affirm my son in such a significant way and call him forward into manhood. I learnt more about manhood and fatherhood, and I got to know my son even better, even though I had already been quite intentional and shared a great relationship with him.”  (Clive – Age 43 – Melbourne, VIC)

This experience has been a time to invest in my son and the next generation. It’s been an opportunity to have fun time with him and deepen our relationship and friendship.”  (Kobus – Age 39 – Townsville, QLD)

 

See our photo albums containing many more pictures of the week’s adventures:

1. Tully River White-Water Rafting photos

2. Snorkeling out on the Great Barrier Reef

3. Sea Kayaking between South Mission Beach & Dunk Island

4. Hiking to the summit of Bicton Hill

5. Where we called home during the 5 Night Father-Son Adventure

 

Our next 5 Night Father-Son Adventures are in…

1. July 1-6, 2017, and

2. September 23-28, 2017

A Mother’s Role in the Masculine Initiation of her Son

Dear precious Mother,

Firstly I would like to encourage you, to encourage & support your son and his father, uncle, grandfather, mentor, or significant male other, to participate in one of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures. I acknowledge that it would be a sacrifice for you… especially in regards to time and finances… although I firmly believe that you will all be richly rewarded for those sacrifices… as has been the case in the lives and families of so many already.

I imagine that in so many ways, it seems like just yesterday that your now teenage son was born. The birthing process was not complete until the umbilical cord between he and the placenta which your body grew to sustain & nourish him during pregnancy, was severed. The cord was cut, and it was then that I imagine you held your baby boy in your arms, and nothing else that was happening in the world seemed to matter.

It’s highly likely that you experienced some kind of postpartum blues in the days after his birth… the majority of Mothers do. It’s a completely normal reaction to the separation of your baby from your womb… no longer one being, but two.

Well heads up Mum, you’re about to experience the second, and just as necessary postpartum experience. Your boy is well on his way to becoming a man, and on the final evening of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventure, your son’s father, or significant male other will call him out of boyhood, and into either young manhood, or authentic manhood, depending upon his age. Your relationship will never, and should never be the same again. And just like the first postpartum at birth, you may also experience emotion that you are unable to explain. That’s completely normal. Try and relax, and give yourself a break. It’s perfectly OK to grieve what’s been lost, but it’s also time to celebrate what has begun.

This season of your son’s life is where his Dad’s influence, or the influence of a significant male other in your son’s life must increase, because masculinity is bestowed by masculinity. Femininity can never bestow masculinity. For this reason, a son will instinctively begin to pull away from you during these years, hence this letter giving you the heads up in regards to what’s coming, as an attempt to prepare you for these times. Without question, your son will still turn to you for comfort, but if Dad is involved, he will turn to him, and so well he should, for adventure, for the opportunity to test his strength, and most of all, to receive the answer to his question… Do I have what it takes?

Very few Mothers handle this transition well, but it’s important that you do, otherwise things can & often do go bad. It’s a time where boundaries need to be established, and the change in your relationship must be redefined, for the sake of you both.

So, once again I encourage you to encourage & support your son and his father or significant male other to participate in one of our 5 Night Father-Son Adventures. And then plan a celebration dinner upon his return home. If you have the time to do so, you might like to prepare a montage of photographs from your son’s life, but most importantly, this is the time for you to speak beautiful and affirming words to your son… preferably in public, and especially in front of the rest of your family. This is a milestone in your son’s life, and a milestone in the life of your family. You can do this! You can once again be the life-giver your son needs you to be! I trust you will shine.

To help give you a balanced perspective of what to expect, and what I have attempted to convey above, I have asked my beautiful wife Melissa to offer you some timely words of encouragement… from one Mother to another. Here’s what she has to say… A Letter to Mums – from a Mum – on the matter of Masculine Initiation.

Please don’t be afraid to ask questions here of either myself, or Melissa.