What happened when seven boisterous dads & children joined with a team of creative & committed folks from Solstice RTC West and Aspect Adventure in Moab for a three day Father-Child Retreat this last September? My Answer: Nothing Short of Magic.
Not the Copperfield stuff nor the “warm fuzzy” of hallmark cards & commercials. I’m talking about what happens when people committed to having a gritty-good experience, “come what may,” meet up with Mother Nature in a setting known for its beauty, challenges, and plentiful opportunities for fun & reflection. Magic indeed – the kind I watched unfold before me – nearly moment by moment. Not by accident or ease. But. By. Choice.
Beginning with every bit of a 5 hour drive south, Erik Yost, Amanda and I (TjRowden) agreed that it was promising indeed when fathers and kiddos packed snuggly into two vehicles and nary once complained as we motored down the road. I think there was only one time when the inevitable “are we there yet” was heard enroute. After all, someone just had to say it to make it a bona fide road trip. We laughed and spirits were high – even a little giddy – as we neared our destination in Moab. A campsite near Fisher Towers. And from that point on – we entered the very capable hands of Jason Blauch with Aspect Adventure.
With the help of “Camp Mom” Nick, it became very clear – their intention was to provide for our basic needs with such a degree of attention and service that our little group would be able to focus 110% on the reason we were there. That was for dads & children to deepen their relationships through less talk, more action. Not via “Disneyland dadding.” As we discussed on day one – it was to be done via “side-by-side” experiences that would emerge over the course of the trip. Unscripted opportunities to lean-in to the relationship vs out. Moments – privately and with the group – to choose courage over quitting, service over selfishness, responsiveness over resistance, healing over hurt.
And the lab for such opportunities? One-on-one short hikes for fathers and daughters; a sixty+ foot climbing face and similar rappelling wall; thunder & lighting storms with fierce winds and rain (and even brief flooding of a desert creek near camp); double rainbows; blazing sunrises and sunsets; a hike near Fisher Towers; helping in the camp kitchen & with clean-up; night skies with stars that wouldn’t stop (inviting conversations that nearly didn’t either); and a fireside group where the vulnerability of dads and children alike was non-forced and – in a word – sacred.
Amidst anxieties, fears, and fatigue there was effort, courage, and compassion. And in the face of a few “unexpecteds“ (i.e. weather, plans, emotions), I observed flexibility, determination, gratitude, support and many small choice points done well – very well. After all, what is much of treatment, relationships, life if not learning to do hard things well. If that was a measure of this trip –I was surrounded by giants. Magic? Yes indeed. Because intention + action = magic.