Going back to help set up the Pathways to Manhood programme at Te Arai Point was a homecoming of sorts. Getting the tent out (hoping all the bits were there), checking the camping gear (I’m not waking up at 2am with no air in the lilo this time!) was all part of the experience.
There’s a lot of stuff to pack for a couple of days camping. For a couple of city guys, my son Tim and I felt a little bit anxious about what to expect. We’d been there before as participants, and then it was challenging, even hard at times and I had felt the pull to return in some capacity. But we didn’t really know what to expect.
The main thing that stuck with me about being there last time was acceptance. No one judged, everyone was accepted.
It was just the same this time. Although we were there to help we helped in whatever way worked for us. Tim and I were in the kitchen for quite a bit of the time, helping set it up, and that morphed into preparing meals for the men present. Some unloading of firewood during a downtime in the kitchen got the back moving (now maybe that was the start of the bad back that arrived on Sunday!).
In the evenings we all retired to the giant Teepee with dug out fire for light and heat. Jokes, poems, songs, music, stories and reflection. Tim didn’t seem in any rush to head to the tent, preferring the community of man around the fire.
Acceptance. It’s incredibly powerful and giving. Soon we’ll be on the Authentic Leadership Programme again, and with it I hope we will bring a sense of acceptance to those a little anxious at the beginning.
We all need our own teepee. A place where we’re accepted without judgment. A place to reflect.