Pushing the Limits for Brotherhood

December 22, 2014 | Ethan Fowler

Continually throughout Sunset Lake’s three-day fall Father Son Campout, a thought kept crossing my mind — “What am I doing?”

When you’re rappelling for the first time in your life at 43 years old and doing it with your 11- and 7-year-old sons attached by separate ropes to your waist — no kidding — such questioning never ceases.

The same could be said of hiking down a very steep — at times treacherous — trail to reach a river and later that Sabbath starting a fire without matches.

Topping off the breaking-out-of-your-comfort-zone weekend was a strenuous three-hour canoe trip down the Green River as my oldest son continually wanted to challenge my leadership by often refusing to follow my directions for which way to paddle. As a result, the three of us flipped our boat into the cold water at least four times, bumped into several fallen shoreline trees and bottomed-out in shallow waters countless times.

But it was during those times of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion that new bonds were forged between me and my boys as they reached unexpected triumphs. One of those memorable milestones came as my oldest boy, Kincade, rejoiced when he successfully rappelled down the approximately 30-foot rock face. Another came each time Braden proudly showed off the two rainbow trout he caught in nearby Lake Kepka.

However, the three-day campout led by Bob Gaede wasn’t all about taxing our muscles. It also featured Gaede leading the group of four fathers and their sons in thought-provoking Bible studies around a campfire, plus incredibly good food, gorgeous outdoor beauty and new friendships.

When asked what they liked about the weekend, neither of my boys struggled to respond.

“I loved cliff-rappelling,” Kincade said. “I also learned that my dad is trying to help me get through life. This will help me feel more comfortable taking chances.”

Braden added, “I loved the fishing and the food.”

Although my body was sore for three days after the campout weekend, I do hope to attend next year’s Father Son Campout when it rolls around again — only this time I plan on being in better shape beforehand.