What is it about boys and sharp objects? Even lethal objects? Something comes out in a young boy’s heart when he is confronted with fear. Fearful things bring out courage or timidity. Each young man is different. Each one is confronted with the sensation of deep longing to prove oneself through fear. For some it gains a victory, for others it prolongs the anxiety.
Our annual Roosevelt Elk Camp last week was unique. All of the men I’ve hunted with over the years brought their twelve-year-old sons. It certainly changed the dynamics of our camp. From a focus on the hunt and meals to the parenting styles of each man, we navigated many a father-son discussion about the ax, splitting wood, firearms and building fires.
One night, all ten of us (five fathers and five sons), sat around the fire and talked about manhood, struggles, inward battles and how to seek God as young men. It was a testimony of authenticity, reality and even pain. We asked the boys what they most appreciated and longed for in their dads. Accompanied by tears and laughter, we all came away changed.
What is it about the fire, the ax and boys? I asked that question as we circumvented the rocks, ruts and treacherous ways of the road leading out of the wilderness. I watched as my seventeen-year-old son took the wheel of my Tundra and drove us out while I thought about him and all the boys in our camp.
Boys need fear in their life. It’s the only way to manhood. Not the fear of an abusive environment, but the fear of confronting hard things. They need a loving father or mentor to help them navigate fear and experience small victories. Confidence can’t be gained any other way. The fathers at our camp each worked hard to help their son confront and overcome their fears. All boys (and girls) need fear, in whatever way it comes and a mentor to help them experience victory. You know what? Even as adults, we never grow out of our need for both.
Steve Holt M.A., D.D.
My newest book, Worshipper Warrior, can be found at www.steveholtonline.org