The Power of a Father and Son Outdoor Adventure: Part 1, True Adventure
When it comes to Christian retreats, Christ in the Rockies has hosted adventure camps for fathers and sons who come from all across the United States. Based in Colorado and since their beginning in 2007, Christ in the Rockies camps provide an opportunity to deepen relationships and grow as a man of Christ. Our camps for this year will maintain this central focus.
In this three part article, we explore how and why an adventure for fathers and sons can be so powerful. In part 1, Christ in the Rockies executive director Mike Haddorff shares reflections from a trip to the Grand Canyon, uncovering two key aspects of something he calls true adventure. Then in parts 2 and 3, Mike dives more deeply into the components of a well-designed adventure for fathers and sons.
The Thirst for Adventure
Christ in the Rockies camps recognize a very important reality: Every man and boy has a thirst for adventure. True adventure is the kind of adventure that men and boys need in order to quench this thirst. So we must ask what true adventure is all about. There are two important aspects to discuss. To create context for our discussion, I’ll briefly share a story about an adventure I had on the Rainbow Rim Trail of the Grand Canyon.
Rainbow Rim Trail: An Adventure Story
One July evening about ten years ago, seven of us were settled in at a high and lonesome campsite located on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. We were mountain biking the Rainbow Rim Trail, snaking our way along the rim in this remote region of the national park.
After a campfire dinner and clean-up, we walked our chairs to the rocky edge of the rim and arranged ourselves to enjoy the slow approaching arrival of night. Captured by the Grand Canyon expanse, we sat in silence for nearly two hours watching the dipping sun project ever-growing shadows onto the massive, glorious landscape.
“Something big happened here,” I repeated to myself. “Something very big.” I was overwhelmed by the absolute stillness and yet the feeling of absolute power coexisting at this very same time and place.
The Mysterious Thin Place
My mind went to Elijah’s experience of the still small voice as recorded in 1 Kings 19:11-13. Here at this wilderness place, in silence and solitude, God’s big screen was alive in ultra HD communicating His unequivocal covenantal care.
The ancient Celts called this type of place a thin place. They believed that in such places the spacial separation of the material and spiritual world becomes paper thin, thus making one’s connection to the spiritual world ever closer.
When we find ourselves in these mysterious thin places, we begin to feel as if we are experiencing something of true adventure. So then, one aspect of true adventure is that it often brings us to the thin place of encounter with the spiritual world. Let’s now look at another aspect of true adventure.
The Challenge to Change
In today’s modern, frenzied and ever-connected world, the longing of my soul groans for the thin places. I long for the wild, the unencumbered place where at last I can hear, the place my soul can be nourished, the place where my relationships can be cultivated and where true, lasting change can occur.
However, once engaged in true adventure space I am soon confronted by my own limits. I find myself outside of my predictable day-to-day routine. It is larger, unfamiliar, uncomfortable and therefore beyond my perceived control. These self-imposed limits give rise to feelings of frustration, fear, pain and even anger. But herein is the value of such an experience, and herein is the second aspect of true adventure.
A true adventure space will often challenge us to face the uncomfortable realities that arise because of the limitations we place on ourselves. Yet, this challenge is also an opportunity for growth and for lasting change. So true adventure challenges us to face these difficult realities and thus it creates opportunity for change.
The Two Aspects of True Adventure
We have seen how true adventure is a powerful space indeed, since it is often comprised of two key aspects. First, true adventure usually brings us closer to the thin place of spiritual encounter. Second, true adventure will create space for confronting difficult realities so that we can finally deal with them, and move toward lasting change.
Now that we’ve have a better sense of what true adventure really is, we can move on to exploring the true adventure in the relationship between fathers and sons. Most important of all is how we go about dealing with the difficult realities we encounter in this type of true adventure. In part 2, we will address this topic in more detail by examining two components of a well designed outdoor adventure for fathers and sons. Also, be sure to check out part 3, where we will consider two final components that are necessary in a father and son adventure.