February 4, 2011

Boys, A Deep Canyon and A Tyrolean Traverse

There is just nothing more exciting for an adolescent male than a challenging adventure. They love being tested, and the more adrenaline the better. So the men who formed the Desert Men's Council in Tucson decided we'd put our pack of young males on a rope suspended over a twelve story canyon and see how they'd do.

Even though they trust us and especially our rocks and ropes leader, Chris, the young dudes really eyed up the anchors, the ropes, and the safety gear. At the same time they kept looking over the edge to see the rocky bottom of the canyon way below and the launch point way across and up on the other side.

Once set up, a circle of men and boys was formed and there was the important conversation about safety, supporting others, and no goofing around close to the unprotected edge. The boys listened deep as the men unfolded stories about risks they had taken. Sometimes foolish risks, and then the risks that stretch you, that help you to grow into a larger version of yourself. The men told stories of the times of uncertainty they had faced and how, sometimes, it's important, or even necessary, to push through your fear to do what has to be done. All the while the stories were being told, there were nervous glances across to the launch point and that big step into the deep void that was waiting.

Conversations done, the four boys were asked to volunteer. The ones that were too eager and stepped up first were invited to take a different path, to hold back, and to support others taking an even bigger risk. Then boys who were genuinely afraid of the experience were asked to step forward. They did, they were given cheers and hand bumps, and then off they marched for the other side of the canyon.

The photos at this slide show link tell the rest of the story. The young guys learned it's the first step into the unknown that was the most difficult, and the ride that followed was exhilarating! As the realization dawned that the system of ropes was indeed safe, and fun, and that the Facebook photos would be great, there was a general leaning into the event. Adolescent bravado returned and grew in those who had made the crossing, and before long the guys were lining up for the second ride. Fun.

After the ropes had been taken down and the site cleaned, we again all sat down to talk about what had happened. The guys realized that somehow, in an afternoon, the canyon had become less threatening, less scary, and smaller in some way. It was attributed to the gear, their confidence in Chris, the support they gave each other, and their own willingness to step out of their comfort zone . . . in this case one BIG step. It wasn't a big stretch to apply those lessons to the life of a boy on the journey toward manhood.

You may not have a twelve story canyon handy or the gift of a good and talented rocks and ropes guy like Chris, but among your group of men friends there is the talent, gear, and possibly the interest in an adventure of some kind waiting. What I'm pretty sure of is in reading this, your inner adolescent got jealous. What I can say without reservation is there are boys in your world who would love to go along on your adventure!

If you have a similar story of a pack of guys on an adventure, please add it to the comment section of this post or send it to me. We'd all like to read another outing story.

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1 comment:

  1. Dave Bolduc9:30 AM

    Earl, Awesome post. Thanks for sharing. I am now living in VA and have lunch planned with the president of an organization called Riverside Outfitters. It turns out that it was formed by men who do tree work and they now do River rafting and kayaking on the James river right here in Richmond that has class I-V whitewater. Also they offer day camps for Tree climbing(with ropes) and high ropes courses. I’m excited about offering these challenges to our local boys. And yes my inner adolescent was a little jealous.


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