Finding our place in the wild

Reflections from our first father/son campout

Submitted byJason Brewer

Aztec Caves – 31.9281° N, 106.5093° W at Franklin Mountains State Park 

It is a rite of passage for a son to have his first real experience in the wild with his father. I am honored and humbled to give that experience to my son.

Leaving the Trail

We spent the weekend playing in the Franklin Mountain State Park like two boys. It was an opportunity to shake the household routines, the chores, the responsibility. I had a chance to let him feel the true joy and freedom of our natural world. And to my happiness, he embraced it.

We hike on trails frequently. That is nothing new for him but this was different. I am familiar with the landscape and spend quite a bit of time up here. But this was his first trip above 5,000 feet.

This was leaving the safety and structure of the trail and experiencing for himself what it is like to step outside the boundaries. The most important thing was that through this experience, he was able to discover his own limitations and face his own fears.

The Darkness leads to Discovery

Like most kids, my son fears the dark. At 6,100 feet there is little light at night and prior to the moon rise, the darkness folded itself around our every movement. Only our headlamps were visible until the fire came to life. We told campfire stories and cooked s'mores and did everything that you are supposed to do on campouts.

As bedtime drew near, he began to worry. This is when I knew it had sunk in for him that we were sleeping up on this mountain.

“Hey Daddy, we’re Adventure Boys aren't we?” he said with caution in his voice.

As we lay in our sleeping bags recalling our weekend’s adventures, I feel him settle in and the stress fade away. He has accepted his place among the wild.

It makes me think about the experience as a whole. When you are young, your life is about finding your place in the wild. Then I realize it always is. As a father I am learning how be an example for my son. I am learning how to be his guide to finding his own place in the wild. That’s pretty cool.

In the end, we both had an amazing time. I learned a lot about myself as a father but more importantly, I learned more about my son and who he is. I learned that he is a bit of a risk taker but he is smart and he knows himself and his own limitations.

We hiked. We climbed. We explored caves. We did everything that little boys dream of. We experienced the first of many Adventure Weekends to come.


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