Wednesday, December 07, 2011

What I Learned in the BWCA

I originally published this in August 2006, and am sharing it again to encourage you dads leading teenagers.  -- Glenn


My son and I spent several days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area last week, traveling about 40 miles by canoe and portage, and camping along the way. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

This is a huge area, with lots of open space, and you're just the visitor there. Even the ducks know this. Certainly the bald eagles do.

It helps a lot when you son is as strong or stronger than you. 50 pound canoe, 50 pound packs, and a food pack, it adds up. 

I took along my notebook and pen, assuming that I'd have tons of great ideas and insights. I prayed a lot, but didn't think about much to write down. Instead, I had a wonderful experience of "Be still, and know that I am God." 

When wolf howls wake you up at 1am, you discover some urgency in your prayer that wasn't there when you laid down to go to sleep. 

Our ancestors were tough! And how did they find there way around without topo maps, anyway? You would think someone would rig up a solar-powered neon "P" sign to mark these portage sites! 

Minnesota mosquito legends are all true. 

Teenagers recover faster than 44 year olds. I'm sure I knew that before, but this trip reinforced it. 

There are some rocks and tree roots that no Thermarest mattress can make comfortable.

Coordinated paddling gets you there much faster, with less effort. Parenting is much easier when the kids cooperate, right? And our spiritual growth is much faster when we lay down our foolish defensive pride and let God work in and through us. Community life is better when we submit to the idea of paddling together. 

The worst rocks are the ones that don't stick up out of the water, but are just below the surface. You don't see those until the last seconds, or until your canoe grinds over them. 

The best way to have good conversations with your teenage son is to go with whatever he wants to talk about, and not try too hard to steer the conversation to where you think it should go. 

We're eager to do it again, but willing to give it a year or so.

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