By Scott Fameli
I don’t know what warms the heart more; the high pitched screams of a kid who just caught their first fish “I GOT ONE!” or a dad squeezing the life out of their child with hugs and kisses and shaking them off their feet after they harvest their first animal. The experiences of the hunt and the catch are adrenaline pumping for sure, but sharing them with dad, is like icing on a seven layer cake.
When is dad at his best? Any son that longs for one-on-one time spent with their dad will tell you; it is not when the lawn is the nicest one in the neighborhood; it is not when he lowers his golf handicap; it is not when he gets that promotion; and it’s not even when he’s playing Santa at Christmas time. Is it enough to be a parent who is present – going to games, recitals, plays? No. Although those things are important, I’m talking about dedicated relationship building, memory making, face to face and heart to heart presence. It is hard to rival this kind of time being spent in the outdoors. Some of my fondest and most impactful memories I have of my dad, uncles and grandfather were our time in the outdoors together – hunting, fishing, camping, and exploring.
It is not easy to focus a rambunctious kid with so many of the lesser options that society has saturated with, but I can tell you the excitement of experiencing and learning something new in the outdoors is welcomed by the most socially saturated child. Every child, no matter how soft or how hard, longs for focused and intentional time invested in just them. It is a need far greater than they even realize. As a child growing up with these types of outdoor experiences, I didn’t know it at the time, but I was learning valuable life lessons of responsibility, hard work, safety, provision, planning, decision making, sharing, serving others, life & death, ethics, winning and losing and most of all about being a good steward of God’s incredible gift of creation. As a boy, getting a taste of what it feels like to spark the urges of our primal wiring to be hunters and gatherers only brought the desire for more. As a man, my taste has only grown stronger and I want to share it with others.
But sadly I see so many dads who were once boys themselves (and some still are), who never got the taste of the outdoors that I got with my dad, my uncles or grandfather. They missed out and are still missing out, with nothing to pass on to their kids, who are now missing out too. This brings me back to my original thought; the best of dad can be found in the outdoors when dad is focused on me – teaching me life lessons – creating opportunities to cheer me on – tell me he is proud of me (whether we got our limit or not, we tried) – not only telling me he loved me, but showing me he loved me by giving me himself and the knowledge he got from someone who passed it on to him. These were rich times never to be forgotten.
Lest you think it was always this way, there were times when dad wasn’t there. Our broken home left me in a gap at age 11. The gap was felt mostly on the inside. This is where my uncles and grandfather and other men filled the gap. It is hard enough raising a son in today’s world. As a dad you need support and you may have never been equipped to pass on such things to your kids. If you are one of those that missed out and feels ill equipped, I want to encourage you to reach out to the outdoor community. Spend any amount of time on the forums at sportsmansnew.com and you’ll see a bunch of big hearts shining through all over the place. It is full of dads, uncles, grandfathers and men who would love to teach you, spend time with you, cheer you on and equip you to do the same with your kids or a kid who has no dad. I know one thing about outdoorsmen, they are a good and giving bunch of people.
Over the past 4 years I have had the privilege of hosting a Father & Son Camp Out with our church. This year we had 82 of us in all; 34 dads and their 38 sons, 3 grandfathers, 3 dad mentors and 4 fatherless boys. It is real camping, all outdoors, complete with cooking, cowboy coffee, hiking, fishing and next year we plan to introduce archery. Each day we do Father & Son talks, where we learn as a group the role of a father and the intentional path to manhood in this world. Each dad then takes the opportunity with their son(s) to introduce them to everyone and tell everyone how God has shaped them, what kind of character they have and of the special qualities they have, then publically look them in the eye and tell them they are proud of them, they love them and are committed to being there for them to show them the way to a God honoring life and legacy. It is an incredibly rich and fulfilling time and there’s rarely a dry eye in the camp. It’s good for a son to see his dad’s heart and softness toward him. With the fatherless boys, it often happens where multiple men rise up and brag on them and commit to them support in the absence of their real father.
Each year we find many inexperienced dads who need coaching in outdoor stuff. We spend some special time with these guys and pair them up with more experienced people. They learn to tie knots, cast, bait a hook, outdoor techniques, read maps, use a GPS and more. It is fun to see them get just as excited as the kids. The AZGFD has been very supportive over the years and has provided equipment and staff to bring these newbies into the sport of fishing at no cost. We always schedule our event on a weekend that offers free fishing. No matter what they choose to do it is a memorable time for all. We’ve been amazed at the extra bonus of seeing incredible healing between some older sons and dads who have drifted apart.
Despite electronics, social networking and the internet, ironically there has been no other generation with more ways to “connect”. Such superficial connections have created alienation from real life experiences and genuine relationships. It’s a sad commentary to realize the next generation of dads and kids are likely to be a bunch of relational aliens, having pseudo cyber relationships using the newest type of cell phones called androids.
There is a proverb that says “the glory of son’s is their fathers”. The word glory here means weight and significance. This perspective of glory is a two sided coin. First, we are given glory (weight and significance) by what our sons say about us and second, we have weight and significance (glory, influence) over our sons in our role as fathers. We’ve all bragged about our dads. You’ve said it before. My dad did this or my dad can do that. We give our dad’s hero like qualities. And if you’re like me in my boastings, dad was bigger, stronger and better than he really was. So, why the gap between reality and who we say dad is. The gap comes from the unintentional influence we have on our sons when they are watching us do life in ways that aren’t consistent with what we say. More things are caught rather than taught, so dads must live intentionally to be good influencers in all areas of life and reinforce our influence by creating intentional moments that glorify living right, like those lessons that can be learned in the outdoors.
So how do you close the gap? Although we’d all like to be superman, we’re not. If you think you are, you’re delusional and you’ll likely raise either another delusional superman or a son who thinks he’ll never measure up. Instead, be real. Create moments where your child can experience the best of dad in the outdoors. Hunting and fishing has a way of humbling the best of us. These sports will also test your resolve and honesty. Our goal as parents is to equip our kids with what they need to “navigate the realities of life in a healthy way”. That’s the definition of integrity. When a dad is focused on their child in an environment where they can teach them life lessons, cheer them on, tell them he is proud of them, and not only tell them he loves them, but shows them he loves them by giving them himself, dads will pass on a glorious legacy and richer times never to be forgotten.
The Legacy of Heroes
By Scott Fameli
A hero will not call himself a hero. Why? Because his heroism is selfless. He does what he does for a cause beyond himself. The word legacy means; a gift left by will, inheritance, something passed on. Heroes pass on leadership – heroic leadership – to be lived out, then passed on to another generation of heroic leaders.
We have in this great nation heroes in the men of the armed forces, police officers and firefighters. But are they first greater heroes to their children and families? There are no greater gifts given to men than their children. Our children are the seeds of our heritage – our legacy as men and as a nation.
In two wonderfully synergistic programs called Raising A Modern Day Knight and Men’s Fraternity (by Robert Lewis), I’ve learned every man’s calling is to LEAD. Men are called to lead by first nurturing, protecting and cultivating these seeds of legacy – not a legacy of one man, but of mankind, created in the image of God. A leader is a king who rules and guides in his home, at work and in his community with a resolve for righteousness and the protection of his kingdom. A leader is a friend whose camaraderie is founded on truth, support and accountability. A leader is a lover, who loves like God, loving those who sometime don’t deserve it, giving all, expecting nothing in return. A leader is a warrior who is fueled by a conquering spirit, willing to tirelessly fight the good fight, standing guard for the glory of God and a cause beyond themselves.
But we don’t begin as men. Born into childhood, we are left to other men charged with the responsibility of making boys into heroic leaders. Do we realize the trajectory of our nation hangs in the balance in the way we lead? Look around. Our nation is the product of generations of males who have not lead according to their calling. Instead, unequipped as men, they live boyishly. If so-called leaders, they have lead to serve themselves not others. If so-called kings, they have been tyrants and abusers or abdicators and empty winded. If so-called friends, they have either been users or they have been no friend at all and have become loaners. If so-called lovers, they have perverted love with selfishness. Their love is completely absent of sacrifice and responsibility. And if so-called warriors they have dishonored their armor by being evil destroyers or have left the armor empty while claiming its power – they are cowards dressed in false nobility.
So what do we do with this call to leadership? The urge to lead bubbles deep in the heart of every boy, every man, but we must lay hold of it responsibly. It must be pure and good. The fruit will be boys that grow up to honorably defend of our nation, stand a post, or rescue those in peril. But these things are second fruits. The first fruits of a man leading a nation are found in the home, loving his wife, providing well, and raising up children in a safe and wholesome environment. We cultivate good fruits in generations to come by teaching every young man to be leaders marked by humility, resolve, honorable living, sacrifice, honesty, integrity, maturity, love and devotion. The hope of our nation is counting on it. This task can only be realized by men equipped to do the job and who know they need to rely on God to give them the strength and wisdom to lead.
There would be no need to stand a post or to rescue if there were not a priceless treasure at stake. The treasure is our families, our children; the fabric of our nation. My heart is to cultivate the legacy of our nation by encouraging, equipping and supporting the men who defend, protect and serve this “one nation under God” every day. I want to stoke the fires of their primary value and role as men, husbands and fathers first, so that their calling to be guardians of our freedom will not be in vain. It is then they will become a “Legacy of Heroes”.
The legacy mold is set for those that are gone forever. But there are thousands of wives and children of serviceman who continue to give all for their nation, while their family lives without them physically and emotionally. They are proud of his answer to duty’s call, but the passersby who offer well wishes and say “you must be very proud” does not fill the void and longing they have for their husband and father.
I have a vision to serve these families with a Legacy Heroes Family Retreat – an entire week focused on them; equipping men to lead, bringing wholeness and healing to families who have suffered through the absence and sacrifices made by men who serve what should be a grateful nation. It would be in a large, comfortable wilderness setting, full of activities like workshops that equip men and dads to be leaders. What they will hear and learn will encourage them, refute the vain expectations of society and reunite them with the noble causes of life. Men would be challenged with simple “on purpose” activities during the retreat that would allow them to put that reunited truth into action, redefine their relationships with their families and strengthen their bond. As the men are learning the families would be filming personal videos to be treasured for a lifetime showing these men why they are loved, admired and appreciated. Special family retreat hunts and fishing jaunts would build memories for a lifetime. Sponsors would take a support role with firearms, ammo, archery equipment, outerwear, optics, hunting gear and fishing gear to outfit the families for the week. Concerts, inspirational speakers, sporting dog demonstrations, a quad Rodeo, sporting clays, shooting ranges, great mealtimes, banquets, fish fry, food& beverage and novelty vendors. It would all culminate in a final appreciation banquet where support organizations offer help to the families; a compilation of the family videos produced for the men is shown, family members would rise and share testimonies of life with these men and present honor awards to them and men would give testimonies of their week and love for their families.
Such an event will not replace what has been lost, but it will turn the tide a bit to put family first. Is there such an event? It is beyond any one man, but it is not beyond a community. So this is where I’m starting. I challenge anyone who can offer man hours, products, services or funds to build into our nation in this way to go on the Forum at www.sportsmansnews.com and under the topic “General” chime in on the “Legacy Heroes” thread. I’m not sure where this is going, but I know its burning inside me and I’ll do what I can for those who will lead our nation tomorrow.