I must admit, I love to explore.
As a kid, my mother often responded to our destination queries with these simple words: “We’re on an adventure. It starts when we leave the house and doesn’t end until we get home.”
Now, that adventure could be as small as going to the grocery store, or as big as visiting some family in another city. The idea was that each and every day, whenever we left our home for whatever reason, she wanted us to know we had an opportunity to discover, learn, and see things around us that we may have never known before. She didn’t always give us the answers we wanted, but she would always try to help provide us with opportunities to learn for ourselves the answers we were looking for.
I don’t think I’m alone though. I believe boys in general are explorers. I believe boys are built to discover; to find and learn on their own the answers to their questions.
So often though, we as adults mostly try and tell a boy what he ought to do or ought to be, but so often I feel, by itself, that approach falls short.
Like I said, boys are simply built to discover.
However, does that mean we should let them explore on their own without any direction? Certainly not.
How can most explorers circumnavigate the unknown more successfully without first enlisting the services of someone familiar with the land to lead them?
For boys, this journey from boyhood to manhood is all about discovery. It is an exploration of who they are, who they aren’t, and what it is to be a man. For us, our roles in this journey are to guide, mentor, and influence them along the way, using our experience as travelers familiar with that adventure to speak into their lives.
We do this by providing opportunities to challenge them; to see them overcome and add another tool to their belt. We do this by listening to them; encouraging them to ask questions and being honest with our responses. We do this by progressively endowing them with responsibility; allowing them to make concrete commitments to their quest. We do this by helping them understand and identify the boundaries and pitfalls that lie all about them, and the dangers and consequences that result from crossing them. We do this by bringing people we trust into their lives to walk with us and help influence them on this journey. We do this by living out the example of what we want them to be; using our words only to reaffirm the character we lead with.
I’m thankful that my mother guided me on my journey, along the way teaching me all she could while bringing in role models that she trusted to partner with her through the process.
It is because of my experience that I am even more thankful for and relish the significant role we at Camp Stewart are privileged to play in a boy’s journey every summer. When we send our children to camp, we are doing more than simply giving them a fun getaway for a few weeks. We are inviting that camp to partner with us in the lives of our sons to see these aspects developed in them and to help embolden and prepare them for the path ahead.
Through camp, I continue to have the opportunity to be a partner for parents as we strive together to see these great boys become great men.
Just like those people my mother brought into my life years ago.
Let’s get exploring.
*Photo Credit Joshua Earle. If you’re into photography, check out his website here. His portfolio is definitely worth taking a look through.