Passing the Torch
By Bill Holland
As a young man in high school and college, I stopped going hunting with my dad because I was just too busy, I got married and had kids. Classic adult excuses but I just didn’t think about hunting until one fall day in 2011. Visiting with my Dad one day, out of the blue he asked if I was interested in going elk hunting with him that year. I had never been elk hunting and honestly was surprised and excited about his invitation.
It made me reminisce of my youth being woken up at 4 am eating cup-o-noodles for breakfast and heading out onto the rolling grass hillsides along the breaks of the snake river. We never failed to spook at least one flock of chucker’s in the pitch black, scaring us out of our boots every time! Every year we would bring home a deer or two between the three of us. It was amazing and far from forgettable!
This time was different, it felt like a passing fo the torch, dad took me to an area where he had hunted with his dad when he first started elk hunting. He showed me where they used to ride horses in and camp when there were no roads to access the area. Dad knew every nook and cranny of the entire area, every stream, every trail, every meadow. It was like when I was a kid again looking at my dad through a child’s eyes and I remember being so thankful for the opportunity to share this experience with him.
As a young boy, I didn’t really appreciate or understand the efforts made by my father as he shared his passions with me. Most of us miss that our fathers are simply trying to pass on there life experiences and knowledge to us. I imagine that a lot of boys miss it, as I did and took it for granted for the longest time. See, you never fully understood what it means to your father until you yourself become a dad and look into the eyes of your own son. As a father looking into your son's life, you'll see what I saw in my boys, they need to be guided, mentored and provided an adventure to live out.
These boys have a seemingly endless desire for affirmation from me, constantly seeking my opinion on their latest drawing or stick carving or my thoughts on how to improve their latest back yard nerf gun war fort. What I later realized was that these boys need an environment where they can learn and grow and play together as boys. A place where they are surrounded by strong Christian men who love to teach and encourage them. A place to share God's word with them and provide them the strong Christian male role model that young boys today so desperately need.
That's where Trail Life USA came in and helped give me an opportunity to teach and mentor not only my boys but to other boys in the troop that need that same guidance and mentoring. To me, it was the perfect fit because my boys and I love the outdoors. We enjoy camping, hiking, boating, hunting and all kinds of outdoor activities. What was most important to me is that we can enjoy these activities with fellow Christians and grow together.
What I didn't expect when I joined was how much I would learn and grow from the other men in the troop. As we teach the boys different outdoor skills, I am able to pass along things that I know and learned as a young boy with my own dad. Selfishly, just as good as Trail Life has been for my boys to be emersed in, it has been good for myself also.
Since being a part of Trail Life I have been encouraged in my faith and grown closer to all my children, my wonderful wife, and God.
Thinking back I now cherish the time spent in the wilderness with my dad and have been elk hunting with my dad every year since that 2011 invitation. That time is something that I anxiously await for, every fall, just as much as I look forward to my time that I now spend with my sons in Trail life. Every year I bring home memories and stories to share about my hunting adventures with my boys who eagerly listen to every detail. The only difference is now that I'm dad, I get to create memories with my sons that they will hopefully never forget.
Trail Life has been a blessing to our family and I would encourage any father with young boys to come to check it out. If your interested email firstname.lastname@example.org