Embracing the Bond: A Father’s Reflection on Camp Ondessonk’s Father-Son Weekend

Embracing the Bond: A Father’s Reflection on Camp Ondessonk’s Father-Son Weekend

Embracing the Bond A Father's Reflection on Camp Ondessonk's Father-Son Weekend

By Tony Vrooman

As the years unfold and our children grow into adults, our shared moments become increasingly precious. One such moment that holds a special place in my heart is Camp Ondessonk’s Father-Son Weekend – an experience that transcends time and creates enduring memories.

In the early years, when my son was just a little adventurer, we stumbled upon the magic of Camp Ondessonk. The towering trees, the crisp scent of pine in the air, and the laughter echoing through the woods – it was a haven for youthful spirits. Little did we know that this would become the backdrop for some of the most cherished memories of our lives.

Fast forward to today, and my son has grown into a remarkable young man. The days of him running through the campgrounds with boundless energy have given way to conversations by the campfire, sharing stories of the past and dreams for the future. It’s a transformation that mirrors a father’s and his son’s evolving dynamic.

The Father-Son Weekend at Camp Ondessonk is a testament to the power of tradition, bonding, and the enduring spirit of adventure. It’s not just about the activities or the picturesque scenery; it’s about the shared experiences that shape relationships and leave an indelible mark on the soul.

Attending the Father-Son Weekend while my son was still young was a decision I will forever be grateful for. In those formative years, the Camp provided a canvas for us to paint memories that now adorn the walls of our family narrative. From fishing by the lake to conquering the climbing wall together, each activity became a thread weaving the fabric of our shared story.

My son and I enjoying Father-Son Weekend.

Jim Stern, a long-time Camp Ondessonk volunteer, and Father-Son Weekend attendee, stated, “My son, who is now 30, and I relive those memories annually. It’s something you have for the rest of your life, that you had time to bond with your kid, and it doesn’t leave you.”

As fathers, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life – work, responsibilities, and the constant ebb and flow of time. The Father-Son Weekend at Camp Ondessonk is a gentle reminder to pause, step into nature, and immerse ourselves in the simple joy of being present with our children.

Tom Smugala, Camp Ondessonk donor and Father-Son Weekend attendee, stated, “I have very fond memories of the times that I spent with my boy for many years at the Camp O father/son weekend. We had adventures beyond our imagination and it gave us an incredible bonding experience year after year. Attending Church with the boys, whether it was inside the church, or in the Grotto, always had an incredible spiritual experience, one that words cannot describe. We would go annually with a group of his friends and fathers from grade school and always had a great time. From hiking to fishing, canoeing, archery, horseback riding, rock wall climbing, exploring caves, and plenty of time playing in the creek. Sometimes the weather was a big part of the adventure, and I can remember one particular night with lightning and rain when my boy told me it was raining on him a little bit. I reassured him that everything was OK and I got up to cover him up better and told him not to look out in that direction, to stay under his covers, and it would be morning soon. I can always remember one particular family coming back every year and with three generations of guys. The elders did not hike up to the mess hall anymore for food, but Grandpa was always there with them. I look forward to the days to come and the thought of coming back with my son and his son. God is good!”

Tom Smugala and his son, Jordan, at a Father-Son Weekend.

For fathers contemplating whether to embark on this adventure, I implore you to seize the opportunity. The bond forged during those weekends is not just a fleeting moment but a foundation that withstands the test of time. It’s an investment in the relationship with your sons that pays dividends in the currency of shared laughter, mutual understanding, and unwavering support.

Reflecting on the years, I am grateful for the memories we created at Camp Ondessonk’s Father-Son Weekend. The echoes of laughter, the crackling of the campfire, and the shared glances that spoke volumes are the treasures defining the richness of fatherhood.

In the embrace of the great outdoors, fathers and sons alike discover the timeless connection that transcends generations. Camp Ondessonk’s Father-Son Weekend is not just an event; it’s a celebration of the enduring bond between fathers and sons – a bond that, like the campfire that lights up the night, continues to burn brightly, casting its warm glow across the landscape of our lives.

Here’s to the memories made, the lessons learned, and the eternal bond of fathers and sons.

Click here to learn more about Father-Son Weekend at Camp Ondessonk.


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