What a weekend!!
The men in the home fellowship I help lead have been discussing masculinity and manhood, so we decided to take our sons on a weekend hiking trip in a wilderness area with a very challenging day hike planned for Saturday. We bit off a very rewarding mouth full and came home exhausted, but having learned a great deal.
Boys do not become men in a vacuum. Culturally, the expectation is that boys become men by virtue of age or osmosis, however such is not the case. Raising men, particularly Godly men, requires intentionality. I could spend a whole series of posts on this aspect alone, but I want to share a bit about steps the men in our fellowship have assumed for our sons.
We have been focused on headship and patriarchy in our ongoing study of Scripture, but I often have been concerned that the man teen boys in our circle were not understanding many applicable points. I began to be convicted that I needed to challenge myself and my sons to some difficult things in order to experience some teachable moments and ‘harden’ both myself and my sons. After sharing this conviction with the men in my fellowship, we decided a weekend in one of the state’s wilderness areas would be a good thing.
Quick and easy to plan for, we picked a weekend about four weeks out and I called to arrange for a few co-located campsites at the base of a very challenging 6-10 mile hike (depending on how we returned) up and across a mountain to the Falls Creek Falls in the Jones Gap Wilderness Area. A benefit that I had not planned for, but was happy to see, was that cell service was exactly zero!!
Time was not heavily planned or micro managed beyond a planned evening discussion on Friday evening and during the hike on Shabbat. I only gave a departure time for the hike and left everything else to flow so dads and sons could enjoy the time and Abba could lead discussion points, etc.
The two ‘talks’ I gave, leading to some discussion at varying points through the weekend, were loosely based on Eric Conn’s exceptional Hard Men Podcast titled ‘Men are made for dominion.’ The two passages he worked from are Genesis 1&2 and Jeremiah 31. I loosely titled the two sections as ‘Man’s mandate’ (fruitful/multiply & dominion) and ‘A future and a hope!’
The hike itself was quite challenging for most. Temps were high 80s with 100% humidity and lots of elevation gain as we hiked to the ridge. At one point, I was concerned whether we had bitten off too much, though I wanted to push everyone for multiple reasons.
We took a full five hours to cover the 5+ miles to the falls and arrived in segments over a half hour period. The group naturally stratified into a fast, medium, and slightly slower group. At several points in the hike we stopped for breaks and to filter stream water for refill. I also had an impromptu map reading class with all of the young men at a couple points on the ridge where we could identify terrain features and clearly correlate them to the map.
At the falls, we swam and began cooling down when a monstrous rain storm blew in and camped over us for the next three hours. We had our discussion packed against a rock ledge, tried to keep electronics dry, then decided to hike out in the rain. It did not let up until we were back to a rather wet campsite! Most gear had remained somewhat dry, though fire starting proved exceedingly difficult in the rainforest-like environment. My crew was just thankful for cold hotdogs, buttered bread, and trail mix. We were exhausted.
The bottom-line was a consensus that we need to ‘do this’ more often. I interpret that to generally mean ‘man things’ and difficult fellowship. It will become a more intentional part of our fellowship’s interaction between the men and the sons for the purpose of better equipping them with hard experiences and challenging discussion as we shepherd them into a true Biblical masculinity.
My encouragement to our readers, particularly the men, is that you immediately and intentionally plan and perform day, weekend, and when possible, week long events that challenge your young men with hardening experiences in the physical, mental, and spiritual realms. -Preferably, events that involve two or all three!
As I have time, I’ll share some lessons learned as well as other intentional events we do that are ‘shareable.’ 😉 For now, here is a gallery with a few pics you can enjoy that will give an impression of the weekend and hopefully inspire the men on here to take the leap into more intentional ‘hands-on’ man building, and inspire the women that a) there are men being reared for daughters, and b) each of these young men will need a Godly #tradwife in the near future!! 😉