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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fathers & Sons: Three Reasons I Support the Annual May Event

by Pete Codella (bio)

Every ward I’ve lived in since getting married has held an event during the month of May for fathers and sons: the annual Fathers and Sons Camp Out.

Perhaps such an event existed while I was a child, youth, teenager or young adult, but I don’t have a recollection of ever participating in this event until I was married. I don’t remember my dad ever taking me to a Fathers and Sons.

After I was married, I attended before I actually had a son because, although I wasn’t a father, as our bishop explained, I was a son and therefore eligible to participate. And when my son finally came along in 2005, I had him in tow with me at our ward’s annual Fathers and Sons at just 9 months old the following May. (I think I packed the most things for that trip, including a portable crib, diapers, food and all the trappings that go along with kids that age these days.)

Lots of rain on this Fathers and Sons Camp Out.
The Jordan River Utah Temple is in the background.
Last weekend my now seven year-old son and I set-up a tent in the rain and stuck it out all Friday night, had breakfast the next morning, then threw everything in the truck soaking wet to get home, dried out and warmed up.

For those of you not fond of camping, you may not choose to participate in such a seemingly silly event. But I quite like Fathers and Sons, and I’ll give you three reasons why.

1. May marks the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood (May 15, 1829 to be exact). That's why we gather as men and boys in the month of May, to commemorate that event.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints this priesthood is available to worthy males beginning at the ripe old age of 12. It’s quite remarkable to me that our Father in Heaven entrusts the authority to act in His name—the priesthood—to such young men. Also remarkable is the opportunity to serve given to the youth (boys and girls) of the LDS Church.

I remember in my upbringing learning about the duties and responsibilities of being a priesthood holder. Somehow, it stuck with me and always helped me choose to do and be a little better, and ultimately become a more worthy priesthood holder—certainly not a perfect one, but just as certainly, one who understands the opportunity and privilege, and strives to honor that trust.

I enjoy gathering in a camping setting commemorating the restoration of the priesthood with other men and young men and talking about the priesthood that binds us together in common purpose. I enjoy the fireside talks and brotherhood. For me, this is the biggest part and most important reason to participate in Fathers and Sons.

2. The camp out provides a break from the routine. My son talked about it for weeks leading up to the night we slept out. There’s a Christmas-like anticipation of going camping with just dad. It’s special. It creates an opportunity for me to bond with my son I wouldn’t have if I didn’t participate.

Bacon, scrambled eggs and hash browns. We also had pancakes.
A great Fathers and Sons breakfast.
3. There’s nothing quite like camp food—and I mean camp food done right. I enjoy Dutch oven cooking and eating pancakes, hash browns and bacon off a campfire grill. This year’s breakfast menu also included scrambled eggs. Fathers and Sons provides an opportunity to enjoy good cooking in the great outdoors. I love that.

Participating in Fathers and Sons may be challenging. The event may even be frowned upon by fathers without sons. But if you expand your vision to include extended or home teaching families, I’ll bet there’s someone you could include. And even if you’re not a father, if you’re male, you’re a son.

This year’s Fathers and Sons will go down as being the most wet one in my memory.

I’ll bet my son will remember helping me with the tent, hanging out by the fire, roasting marshmallows, hearing stories from the recently returned missionary who served in South Africa, playing Frisbee and capture the flag, trying to sleep with the sound of pouring rain on the tent roof, breakfast the next morning, then cleaning and drying our stuff.

We weren't super comfortable, but we still had a great time.

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