In 2005, my father and I attended the father-son camp, Christ in the Tetons.
One night I was standing in the kitchen after dinner. My father came in with a piece of paper in his hand. He told me about a father-son camp that his friend had told him about called Christ in the Tetons. The camp had meant a great deal to my dad’s friend who was now offering to pay a portion of our way to attend the next Christ in the Tetons camp.
Dad and I discussed the idea of going to the camp. I am not sure what Dad actually thought about the camp at that time. I was skeptical, which was not uncommon. I had the general feeling that this may not truly be for us, but that it may be good or even necessary to go because of the influence of my dad’s friend, both financially and based on his experience, which I am sure my dad trusted. It was after all a generous gift. Still, our first conversation about attending the camp was not an enthusiastic one.
Dad and I had a good relationship at the time of our discussion. We got along quite well and enjoyed one other’s company. So the resistance to attending the camp was not coming from some tension between me and Dad. This was a point in our discussion because of the intuition that these kinds of camps, specifically targeting father-son relationships, many of which likely have tension, brokenness, and problems, are designed to address these things, create new perspective, and perhaps begin the journey of healing in those areas.
At the time, I viewed my relationship with my dad as one that had tension in the past. However, that was all a long time ago. We had talked about it and dealt with all that and it was over. That is probably the reason why I was not enthusiastic about going to the camp. I thought that what the camp would be trying to target in me and my father would have valuable lessons in it, but would ultimately be off target because I truly felt that Dad and I were fine. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” as the old adage goes. However, after more discussion and due to whatever variables in that discussion, we had finally decided that we would go.
On the whole, the experience of going to Christ in the Tetons had a greater effect on me in the years after the camp, than at the actual camp itself. The camp set something in motion, a new perspective, about my dad and about my own manhood. It is a perspective that has grown and is still growing but I believe that attending this father-son camp with my dad was an important step in the journey. For me, the real impact of a father-son camp, like Christ in the Tetons or Christ in the Rockies, is of a long-term nature, rather than of a short lived event.
Specifically though, the hike day, when Dad told me his story, is something I will remember for the rest of my life. For a young man to hear his father’s story and actually listen to it is one of the most valuable and important experiences a young man will ever have. It allows the son to place his father in the right context and appreciate his dad within that context. This can explain a lot for a son and bring understanding and even healing into the relationship.
Every father and son have a unique story of their own before coming to a father-son camp like Christ in the Rockies or Christ in the Tetons. Going to a camp like this is one of many plot points on the storyline. However, if it is anything like my own experience, it will be an important plot point to grow from. It will be remembered and drawn upon for years to come.