From time to time, we want to bring you the stories of some of the fathers and sons who have attended Christ in the Smokies’ Passage to Manhood Camp. We are thankful for these fathers and sons who are willing to share their experiences at our camp, and we know you will be blessed by their stories.
Daniel Watkins attended our Passage to Manhood Camp with his oldest son, Andrew, who was 16 years old at the time.
Each year, Daniel looks for a trip or an outing to do with each of his three kids. Because of Andrew’s age last summer—and the fact that he’d soon be graduating high school—Daniel was looking for a trip where the two could grow in their understanding of what it means to be a Godly man.
“Christ in the Smokies provided that—as well as offering activities that were fun and challenging, and providing further times of conversation and reflection,” Daniel explains.
Daniel and Andrew have always had a good relationship, but the time at camp allowed them to further discussions they were already having about what it means to be a man, from God’s perspective. They were also looking for a trip they could enjoy together that had adventure and fun—something Christ in the Smokies certainly offers.
Before Daniel and Andrew came to camp, Daniel had some big expectations for their week.
”I looked forward to the opportunity to continue deepening the bonds of love and friendship that already existed between Andrew and me,” Daniel reveals. “I hoped for the opportunity to share more of my life with Andrew—the ups and downs—and let him see my spiritual journey as it has unfolded.”
Daniel also wanted the two of them to have the opportunity to be with other fathers and sons who are in pursuit of Godly manhood.
Thankfully, the camp exceeded Daniel’s expectations.
“The camp was better than either of us could have imagined,” he says.“We still talk about that week, reliving the lessons taught and the fun we had.”
Leaving camp, however, was bittersweet. Both father and son were thankful for the opportunity to share their love and appreciation for each other through both spoken and written words—especially in such a beautiful place. But it was hard to say goodbye to new friends and see the week of learning and adventure come to a close.
Since returning home, Daniel has returned to his work as pastor of Oak Bend Church. Andrew is back in high school, and is starting to think about and explore what God may have for him in the next couple of years as he graduates. Andrew continues to serve at church in youth group, music, and as a leader in Awana.
When asked what he and his son took away from the experience, Daniel had this to say:
“It was great to be together in a setting where there are a lot less interruptions than often happen at home in daily life. It gave us a chance to listen to each other more closely, share more deeply, and leave nothing unsaid that needed to be expressed. It further reminded me of the awesome responsibility and great privilege that’s mine to both be a dad and lead my son toward manhood. Godly manhood won’t just happen. It has to be pursued by the dad (me), and passed on to my son. We’re still talking about manhood and lessons we learned while at the camp.”
Daniel expressed his gratitude to Tim and the other leaders who made the trip possible for him and Andrew, noting that even the leaders opened up their lives to share as well.
“I would encourage any dad and son to make this trip,” Daniel concludes. “You won’t regret it, and you’ll be changed by it for the better. The Lord willing, I hope to have this same experience with my middle son in a couple of years.”