Last summer, I had the opportunity to use and review a Monarch butterfly kit from Crowe’s Nest Media. It was through that review process that I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Kellie Crowe. Over the past year, we’ve corresponded from time to time; and, recently, she reached out to me to share about a special opportunity for Fathers & Sons – right here in my home state of Pennsylvania! I thought this sounded like a great opportunity for ALL DADS, so I wanted to share it with our Homeschool Mosaics audience . . .
As a mom with three young men (16, 14, 3) growing up in a world that devalues manhood in particular and godliness in general, it’s a privilege to tell you about the“Father and Son Camp East” — a camp that casts a vision for both manhood and godliness while giving fathers and sons a weekend they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
What is the Father and Son Camp East?
This is a camp (held October 3-6, 2013) for Dad’s who want to keep the “hearts of their sons.” As such, it’s also an opportunity for fathers who are new in their faith to catch a vision for biblical manhood and the importance of being a Godly father … for the sake of future generations.
This four-day camp (Thursday afternoon through Sunday lunch) has been created specifically for the purpose of helping Dads develop strong, biblical relationships with their sons, equipping them to be men of value and principle.
Why is this weekend so important?
As our sons grow and the world’s influence becomes greater, we find that there are so many “voices” calling out to them. These voices often drown out the influence of godly wisdom from Dad.
The only way to lessen the influence of these conflicting voices is for the son to “know” the voice of his Dad, and for his Dad to hold his son’s heart. The only way for a son to know his father’s voice is for him to spend time with him. And, I’m talking about one-on-one time together — talking, playing, laughing, discussing the Word.
Some dads attend the Father and Son Camp with a solid vision for biblical manhood and the importance of his role. For that father, the camp merely reinforces his vision. For other dads who may be new in their faith, it’s an opportunity to learn the importance of investing time in keeping the hearts of their son(s).
What about dads and/or sons who are not Christians?
Though the purpose of the weekend is that of fostering an environment for Dads to disciple their sons, the Gospel is central throughout the entire weekend. Dads and sons are presented a clear message of Jesus Christ as the greatest need for their lives and their only hope for salvation. This camp is a great opportunity for all Dads and sons, whether or not they know the Lord as their Savior. We’re praying specifically that many dads and sons will come to know Jesus.
Please share with us how Father & Son Camp East came to be.
Several years ago, when our oldest son turned 13, my husband took him on a wonderful trek out to Colorado to Vision Forum Ministries “Father Son Retreat”. What a time they had as father and son, together! My husband returned home (to Pennsylvania), desiring something like this ministry, closer to home, so that it might be affordable and possible for other men and sons within our church body.
In God’s providence, shortly thereafter, He brought Jim and Barb Butler to our church Body. What was unique about Jim and Barb was their desire to use their 200-acre farm for the glory of God. Unbeknownst to my husband and I, God was stirring the heart of Jim, and, in His wisdom, making divine appointments that would lead to the “Father and Son Camp East.”
In a relationship the Lord divinely arranged, across multiple states, between Jim Butler, Chris Miller (the founder of the original Father and Son Camp in Illinois), and Norm Wakefield (founder of Spirit of Elijah Ministries), the “Father and Son Camp East” was born … and for one weekend a year, the Butler Farm is transformed into the likes of a mini-state park.
When we learned of all that the Lord was doing in Jim’s heart, realizing that Jim had never even known of our desire for an opportunity such as this for fathers and sons, we were amazed at God’s sovereignty and goodness.
Today, our church body is privileged to work alongside the Butler’s serving to provide this remarkable experience for fathers and sons.
Where and when is Father and Son Camp East being held?
The Father and Son Camp East, held this year October 3-6, 2013, is an offshoot of the the original Father & Son Camp (Illinois). Father and Son Camp East is located in Waynesburg, in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. Last year, we had fathers from as far away as Georgia travel to experience the incredible weekend between fathers and sons. Already this year, we’ve had registrations from Virginia and Massachusetts.
How much does it cost to attend the camp?
That’s one of the greatest aspects of this camp! There’s no set cost to attend. In fact, it is by donation only. And, God truly provides. For those who are unable to participate in the cost, God raises up others who are able to share generously.(For those who are able to give, it is estimated that it takes an approximate $50 – $60 per person to cover the costs, plus $30 for a campsite.)
What are some of the activities that fathers and sons can expect to experience at the camp?
Trust me! There are plenty of activities! Everything from paintball, clay-pigeon shooting, disc golf, and rappelling, to an obstacle course, archery, knife throwing, hiking and more!
The rappelling and the obstacle course are hosted by the ALERT team of incredible young men who travel to Pennsylvania, from Texas, for the purpose of hosting this portion of the camp.(A side note, there is an additional charge if you need to rent full equipment for paint ball. $20/afternoon. You may also purchase additional paintballs if you run out.)
Who are the speakers?
That’s probably the best part of this weekend! The fathers and sons get incredible biblical messages, full of a vision for biblical manhood, taught by Norm Wakefield, a well-known national speaker. In fact, Mr. Wakefield is one of the featured speakers of the new “Teach Them Diligently” homeschool conferences and has a been a speaker at Vision Forum’s Father Son Retreat. With a passion for being used to turn the hearts of fathers toward their sons, Norm travels all the way from Texas to lead this event and participates in activities all throughout the weekend, talking with fathers, laughing with sons, and offering great encouragement.
Additionally, each year features a “second” guest speaker who focuses on talking specifically to the sons, serving as a Godly role model. This year, that guest speaker will be Ray McElroy, a former NFL safety/cornerback for the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions who now serves as the team chaplain for the Chicago Bears. McElroy is currently a full-time professional, motivational speaker who uses athleticism to deliver a powerful message of the Truth.
What’s the lodging like?
Tents, tents and more tents! And, the boys love it! What can be better than spending a long weekend with your Dad and other men, sitting around campfires, participating in things like knife-throwing and clay-pigeon shooting, and showering quite infrequently! (Daily shower facilities are available for those who choose to use them.)
Each father/son group will have their own individual tent site. Fire rings and picnic tables are shared by every couple of tent sites throughout the camping facilities.
What do the men and boys eat? Are meals provided?
Yes and no. So that fathers and sons have ample “together time” each father is responsible for the meals they share for breakfast and lunch. They can do everything from cereal and sandwiches … to pancakes and hotdogs cooked over an open fire. However, each night, a meal is provided. In fact, Thursday, Friday and Saturday meals are included.
How old do the sons have to be?
There have been fathers who have brought three year olds with them! However, most tend to be five years old and up. It’s basically up to the father. If Dad has enough energy to keep up with this son, then bring ‘em! There are father-son activities available for each age group.
Is space limited? And is their a registration deadline?
We try not to say that there is a hard-fast deadline. However, space is limited. And, when it’s full, it’s full. Campsites are assigned in the order registration is received. Therefore, it’s important that dads sign-up early. For convenience, online registration is now available and registrations are currently being accepted.
Are plans in the works for future Father & Son Camps?
Yes! In fact, unless the Lord directs otherwise, Father and Son Camp East is a ministry that our ministry team plans to continue. The camp has been as great of a blessing to us as it has to fathers and sons. It’s been wonderful for our Body to serve, providing this type of opportunity for fathers and sons, knowing we are investing in the Kingdom. And, it’s been a blessing for the Butlers. They purchased their 200-acre farm for the very purpose of serving Him and are grateful He is choosing to use them and their farm in this unique way.
And, last but not least, why should fathers and sons plan to attend this year’s Father and Son Camp East?
Little boys are only little boys for a few short years. Before you blink, they’ve grown into men. If fathers hope to have and hold the hearts of their sons, they have to invest the time it takes. And, yet, even with the best intentions, that’s so very difficult in our hectic, fast-paced world.
And, there’s something extra special about the camaraderie of fathers, joining and sharing with other fathers, all having the same hearts’ desire for their sons.About Heidi Strawser