Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Father/Son Retreat 2011 @ Camp Ondessonk

(From Jay)

This weekend, I had the utmost blessing of spending the weekend with 63 men. Included with that number were my two young men, Sam & Jax…the “buddies” as we so often call them. Although we endured our share of hardships there, it was a true blessing to both me and the boys.

On our church planting journey in late 2009, we were introduced to two chuches in the Paducah area…Household of Faith and New Geneva Community Church. We had the opportunity to visit them both a few times and come to know and love the people at both. It was this time last year that we learned about the Father/Son Retreat, but we were unable to attend last year. But after attending a Saturday
night service at Household of Faith a few weeks back, we were reminded up this year’s upcoming trip.

Getting there was a challenge. It was obvious that the enemy wanted to keep me away and keep me in the funk I’ve been in lately, where I’ve allowed him to steal my joy with simple, petty things. We didn’t have the money to go, but it worked out. The day of…everything seemed to fall apart…and by the time I climbed in the truck…I was late and angry and DID NOT want to go. But we pressed on…

Despite our late departure, (and driving the speed limit!) we got there at 5:57 and registration closed at 6:00. God had given us wings to arrive on time…something that really is important to me ( I know laugh it up, but it really is).  I also relied on the map on my phone to get there, and about 15 miles out, we lost reception, and we were directionless…but God took us right there…it was great.

We registered, and drove back into the camp to unload our gear, and we drove up to these open treehouse-style cabins built 15 feet in the air…all connected by walkways. I felt like I was in Narnia or Middle Earth. And while the cabins had a roof, a back wall, and sidewalls, the front was open. It was cool.

The weekend was a well planned schedule of activities and lesson time. From Friday night to Sunday morning, we had five different sessions on battling the culture, leading our family, protecting the church, maintaining sexual purity, and making the best use of our time. We also had what they called “manly skills” sessions taught by the older men like ‘how to sharpen a pocket knife’ and ‘the etiquette and manners of a southern gentleman’.

We also had activities. Saturday morning at 7am they had the ‘Roosevelt Romp’, inspired by Teddy Roosevelt, which is typically comprised of doing something crazy…a rite of passage and overcoming fear. This year’s consisted of the guys doing the polar bear plunge in the camp swimming lake at 7am in water that had steam rising off of it. Me and the boys refrained but it was fun to watch.

The big activity was running the “Gauntlet”. The first thing you notice in Camp Ondessonk are the huge rocks/boulders. They have one trail that runs through the huge rocks, going over and under and squeezing through tight spots. We made it through the first phase, but Jax was TERRIFIED, and after a bit, we decided to wait til next time. We did make it far enough to find the secret swimming hole that is home to Illinois’ tallest waterfall. Unfortunately, with the dry weather, we didn’t get to see it running.

So we made the LONG hike back to camp (we had rode over in trucks), and had a hour to kill, so we decided to do our own Roosevelt Romp and we went swimming in the freezing cold lake. It was COLD! But fun. We followed it with a long HOT shower in the bath house, and returned to camp.

Saturday night, we had 60 guys surrounding a campfire, telling stories, and passing folklore on to our sons. Men told stories, we played games, there was even a couple that did some tradition Indian war dances around the fire. No tvs, no video games…just men and their boys surrounding the fire into the night…it was special.

We had our challenges too. First of all, it got COLD! And I mean cold at night, and we didn’t plan for it properly. We also had visits from a raccoon in our cabin at night, and coyotes not to far off that wouldn’t be quiet. But it was an adventure. The boys climbed rocks, climbed trees, climbed dirt hills…they were filthy. It was great for them. We also found a really cool swinging bridge that the boys found exciting to walk on.

And most of all, God spoke to me. And I hadn’t been listening in a while. I’ve got to step it up, and be a man. The man of God he needs me to be. And I have really stunk at it for a long time. I thank God for this weekend, and for the incredible men that put on this event. Their love and encouragement has not gone unnoticed.

It was truly a blessing!


  1. This is awesome! But, I was thinking more Ewok Adventure than Narnia. Could be because I haven't seen any of those.

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