The Celebration of Man – Boys Rite of Passage

Photo Courtesy Robert S. Donovan

Photo Courtesy Robert S. Donovan

What I refer to as the “Celebration of Man” is the culmination of our
missions here at Journey to Men. It’s a a rite of passage if you will
honoring your boys (and girls) for their effort completing the missions to manhood. More than anything it’s a great time to bond with your children. This is the type of event that they will remember their whole life and one not to be taken lightly. With a little planning and effort on your part it can be a memorable end to a fantastic summer or an event to mark the passage of a milestone in their development as a boy. It also can serve as a sort of final exam for many of the things they have been working on in their missions.

The Components of the Celebration

This is not going to be a prescribed event rather some suggestions for making this a fun time without taking weeks of planning and hundreds of dollars.

Location for the Celebration of Man

It seems most appropriate that the culmination of these Missions to Manhood be celebrated outside at a campground, park, the wilderness or the arctic tundra. I personally will be taking my boys to a wonderful campground adjacent to a beautiful lake, miles of hiking trails and one of the most beautiful forests in the world. That would be the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State which happens to be near our home. Yes we are very fortunate. My backpacking days are far removed and since we don’t have equipment for all of us we’re going car camping and there is no shame in that. If you have the means to head off the beaten path then more power to you. The bottom line is that the location be somewhere special apart from their normal routine.

Preparing to Camp with Your Boys

It’s up to you on this one, but I’m treating this as a round up to their missions and will put the burden of preparing the camping trip in their hands. I have taken care of the location but I will be relying on them to locate and bring the necessary equipment for our camping adventure. Now I’m not crazy enough to let them pick my clothes or personal items to bring. Above all I’m going to have at least my clothes and a sleeping bag and maybe a few Cliff bars in the event of an equipment shortage which might be likely. Have them think about what might be necessary including:

  • Fire Starting Equipment
  • Fun Stuff like Playing Cards
  • Food for meals
  • Cooking utensils
  • Pots and Pans
  • Camp Stove
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Pads
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Flashlights and/or Lanterns
  • Knives (of course)
  • Water (if necessary)
  • Toilet Paper (if roughing it)
  • Clothes
  • Camp Chairs

Ceremonial Gifts for Boys

It is my strong belief that some form of token be given to the boys for their work on the missions and should be something that they can keep for the rest of their lives. Summing up the spirit of the missions it can be useful, uniquely manly, maybe just a bit dangerous and ideally engraved or personalized for the boy. The gift doesn’t need to be expensive to meet these demands but it shouldn’t be an everyday item as well. In my case my boys are a bit older so I’ve purchased the Zero Tolerance ZT0350TS Knife personalized with their name laser engraved on the blade. It’s a fantastically well made knife that is spring assisted. It’s a little bit dangerous but absolutely cool and something they could have with them the rest of their lives. This is not a boys gift but something befitting a man and I think they will embrace every bit of the sentiment. I’m saying that I’m proud of you, I trust you and want to honor you with this token of my appreciation.

This is but one example, I personally love knives in general and so went this direction. Other ideas include: a .22 caliber rifle, a really nice tactical flashlight, a bow, a multi tool, a special hand tool, a watch, a fishing pole, or any number of other items.

Manly Activities

In keeping with the spirit of our missions use your celebration to do some uniquely man things with your boys. Throw knives, shoot BB guns, go to a rifle range, cook over a fire, play poker, throw rocks at targets,go fishing, go hunting, have Airsoft battles and anything else you can think of. A few years ago my boys and I were riding dirt bikes out in the arid desert of Eastern Washington and I had set up a Top Shot competition modeled after a TV show that used to be on at that time. We had different events that they competed in including BB Gun marksmanship both pistol and rifle, Tomahawk throwing, and finally an Airsoft Pistol duel. It was a really fun time that they still talk about fondly.

The Actual Celebration of Man

Ideally you are gathered around a fire that they boys started with their fire steel, have finished a true camp meal and are ready to celebrate your boys. The celebration of my own boys is going to go like this:
1. Review their Man Points earned during the missions
2. Ask them about their favorite moments
3. Ask them what they learned and what they think it means to be a Man
4. Talk about my favorite moments over the missions
5. Talk about various areas where I see them growing into Men
6. Reinforce my commitment to being there for them through manhood and the rest of their lives.
7. Present them with their gifts
8. Dance around the fire (okay maybe not, but we’ll see how the night goes)

Your Celebration

If you are planning on celebrating or have already how did it go, what did you do, what was the kids response? We’d love to hear about it.