Some moments are priceless

A couple of summers ago, my nine-year old son Dawson and I spent the weekend with eight dads and sons from our church at Camp McCall, a boys’ camp in South Carolina. This trip marked my fourteenth trip. I attended seven times as a camper in the 1980s and have returned seven times as a dad for their father-son camps. By the seventh time, the experience feels routine. The schedule, activities, games, songs, and yes, long hikes uphill stay consistent from year to year. We always sing “Father Abraham” at the mission’s time. The post-canteen night schedule consists of campfire one night and night games in the gym the other. I can finish most of the jokes that are retold. Though predictable, the experience always seems fresh for my boys. Without exaggeration, I believe Dawson talked about going to camp every week that year since our last time at McCall. Weekly I heard, “Daddy, when we go to Camp McCall next year . . . .” So ten men and boys left Laurens and drove to Sunset, South Carolina, on a June Saturday morning. We braved Lake Chiliwater, played dodge ball, hiked to the Little Waterfall, slept in an old cabin, showered in a dingy bathhouse, laughed around the campfire, sang songs in chapel, and quickly emptied our food dishes onto our plates so that we could send a camper to the front for seconds. I suppose every father who goes to camp with his son hopes that memories are made that will far outlast the reminders of inconveniences like a sore back or lack of sleep. Two days in a row, Dawson wanted to go to the craft hut. I preferred swimming but agreed to walk to help make crafts. One day we purchased a glue-together wooden plane kit for $4.00. It took two free-time periods to sand, paint, and assemble the toy. Dawson worked steadily on the project with Dad offering assistance as needed. On the third day, ten tired boys and men left camp and returned home, tucking away another year of camp into our memory banks. The next weekend was Father’s Day. Every year I request that my children make cards for me. I tape them to the wall of my office and enjoy. Dawson’s card was creative. The children poke fun at the fact that when I am in charge of lunch or supper, we often have pizza. So the card granted me an award for the father who makes pizza for his children. Dawson created a prize envelope in the card. “Daddy, take out the prize card!” I did so, and it read, “Look in the grill.” For birthday and Christmas gifts, we sometimes send our children on treasure hunts around the house and yard. The last clue directs them to a spot where their gift is located. So, in like fashion, Dawson directed me. We walked outside to the large grill. Dawson, grinning from ear to ear exclaimed, “Open it, Daddy!” Lifting the top revealed a present roughly wrapped in bright red paper, covered with scotch tape. Having no clue what was inside, I tore open the paper. Immediately recognizing the gift, I fought back tears as Dawson jumped up and down. The Father’s Day gift was the painted purple and red plane that we assembled together at camp. Nothing bought from a store could have made me feel as good as I did that afternoon. We embraced for a priceless moment, and I sure was glad we went to camp together. Dads and Moms, Grandpas and Grandmas, summer is here. Let’s make some memories. (Rhett Wilson pastors The Spring Church in Laurens. His blog, Faith, Family, and Freedom, can be found at He enjoys doing life with his wife Tracey and their three children.)

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