Last 28 Feb overnight to 1 March, for the CFC-KFC Father & Sons Camp held at the Cataract Scout Park , Appin, NSW , God led my son Jed (13) and I to brave bushfires, GFC, tetanus, pneumonia and severe exhaustion (slight exaggeration only) so we can renew our father-son relationship in a very special way. Praise God! And with much thanks to CFC-KFC coordinators titos: Jay, Bobby and Lorvic.
Jed is second of my five children and he is my only boy. It was a blessing for us to have this time to pull away from our usual distractions like work, chores, study, and electronics – to instead, set up camp with about a dozen other fathers-sons in what felt like the middle of nowhere. It gave me the opportunity to think about my fatherhood, to view more intimately this teenager my son was transforming into, and for Jed to experience my full and undivided attention in this special setting. We bonded memorably.
The retreat was originally booked this time last year, but was postponed due to extreme heat and flaring bushfires.
I knew this father-son camp would be a much needed getaway for Jed and I, but I anticipated little more, nor foresaw what to expect. In the last thirteen years, Jed and I had done the privileged ‘usual’: lived as a young family, learned and did chores, travelled a little, attended social outings, supported school-based and CFC-KFC- based activities . . . but this was our first time to attend a father-son camp.
For me, the week leading up to the camp was very challenging. I had a lot of work on, was in perimeter of workmates who were sick but couldn’t afford a day off - and it wasn’t even ‘pay week’ (so our budget was short!)
By the Friday night before, at 23:00, having just concluded our CFC unit Lenten reflection on the Transfiguration, I finally got to start packing our gear. True to St Peter’s form, I was also thinking three tents: 1) our tent which was lent out and unavailable, 2) the last minute back-up tent I needed to borrow for out-of-the-way pick tomorrow morn, and 3) the gazebo I really wanted to bring – for added shade.
Come 2:30am Saturday, I was really ready – for bed. The rest of the packing up will have to wait. Camp arrival was due in 5 hours, at 7am – definitely not gonna happen for us. But in the midst of all the uncertainty, I felt reassured because loved Jed too much to spoil the weekend by being cranky and self-absorbed. I needed sleep and decided peacefully to sleep in past my 3 alarms.
By 9:30am we were on our way. In hindsight, I was logistically under-prepared, but felt faithfully confident. I’ve been in CFC long enough to learn that God will use this camp for our good. Earlier, I sat Jed down and ran through the activities list with him. If he was excited, he remained reserved.
When we arrived, I was surprised how little we missed. Everyone was just getting settled. The highlight for the afternoon was ‘Challenge Valley’ – an obstacle course with 15 different elements. To encourage us, the facilitator shared that “The Biggest Loser” filmed there last year, and that the celebrity adventurer, Bear Grylls, took under 45 minutes to complete the rough course. We were out in just over 2.5 hours!
I was very happy to see Jed enjoy and complete Challenge Valley. He was often in front of me. Looking at other dad-sons, and remembering how it used to be with Jed and I when he was younger, I was slightly disappointed that Jed would often get ahead of me rather than walk beside me. But I was consoled in that he would often look back – just to make sure I was keeping up. It was also good that all the dads there had each other for support and encouragement.
On the last leg of the challenge were a pair of flying foxes, Jed and I decided we would ride this side-by-side. But soon after the jump – while watching Jed shoot past me, my grip failed and I fell off. I careened onto the rubberised floor and ended up sprawled. I suppose some father-son journeys aren’t meant for fathers complete. (The less dramatic lesson for me is that I sorely need to loose 15 kilos!)
That night, we built a bonfire and charcoal grill. I jokingly proposed for the fathers to lead their sons on an unplanned tribal dance around the fire, but the majority was right – the idea served no purpose. As the fathers grilled, the boys drifted to playing war games, making their own bows for shooting arrows. True to form, my Jed wasn’t content with a regular bow - he had to make himself a functional cross-bow! For dinner, we shared our food and ate with our hands ‘boodle-style’. This was followed with presentations around the camp fire. Afterwards we set off to our tents for an early night.
Everything to this point served as prelude for the one-to-one conversation for Jed and I in the tent. It’s all divine providence to me. We referred to our guided questions – 12x for Jed to ask me, and the same number for me to ask him. We both opened up to questions like: ‘Dad, what was your most embarrassing time at school?’ or ‘Jed, what’s your most favourite of the games we play?’ . . . Sure enough, the answers warmed our hearts and we really opened up and got to know each other better.
Highlights of the next day were the 40 meter winding water-slide, a generous prayer time, a group-based dad-son coaching activity (which we won convincingly), and packing up fast to beat the predicted 3pm storm.
Unfortunately, we missed out on tito Bobby’s basic knot tutorial, but the rest of the camp had been an amazing experience for Jed and me. The venue, the facilities, the camaraderie among fathers and among sons, the activities, and the event focus resulted in many victories. I believe angels were truly present, helping the team and the participants.
I have always trusted CFC to pull off what God needs of it, if only to serve as a scaffold to reveal His glory. I pray we can someday facilitate something similar for more fathers and sons, and for orphan boys. God, the perfect Father, and Jesus, his most perfect Son - awaits!
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
by bro. Oliver Molina
Father of Jed Molina – Western Deanery Chapter
(Sharing spoken during their chapter assembly in Blacktown)
Hello everyone, I am Jonas Mendoza other wise known as
Kuya Job. I am here to share my experience at the father and son camp.
One thing I enjoyed at the camp was that we had to go to challenge mountain,challenge mountain is where we have about 15 challenges to accomplish, my favourite part was challenge 8, we had to walk along a balancing beam, swing from a rope, fall in water and crawl in mud.
Another thing I enjoyed was making all sorts of things like making some bows and arrows and when my dad taught me how to cook spam and scrambled eggs.
Finally, one of the best thing that happened at the camp was me spending my time and learning with my dad because I want to try to follow him as I grow up, as well as learning how he was when he was like me. At that camp I learnt more about my dad and he learnt more about me.
So KFC coordinators, you better do it again next year!
by Jonas Mendoza
Son of bro. Jimmy Mendoza - Blacktown Chapter