The Power of a Rite of Passage {an unexpected journey to Arcatheos}

Years ago my husband was recommended a book from a priest that really changed our perspective on raising boys.  It had a powerful impact and spoke to his heart deeply.  I read it after he did and it helped me better understand both my husband's psyche and the needs of the boys that God keeps entrusting to us.  One of the tenets of Wild at Heart is that it is written in the souls of males a need to know they have what it takes to be a man.  Especially in the western world, there is a lack of training and entryway specifically into manhood - a rite or rites of passage supported by fathers and the rest of the men of the community - as there were and are in other cultures.  The result of that lack of formation and fatherly involvement is not only deep personal wounds but a cultural crisis of manhood, one which most of us can see quite clearly.  

That rite of acceptance from their fathers and other men in the community is something that marks the change from boy into man.  Boys need a way to prove both to themselves and the community that they have what it takes and in that proving, they find the confidence and strength to be the men they are called by God to be.  It's not about machismo.  It's about building virtue and integrity and true strength of character.  

Anyway, I'm getting wordy and not all that eloquent but suffice it to say that it's been in our hearts since then that we would do what we could to provide that for our boys the best we could, though we had no specific plans how.  But the Holy Spirit, guys.  He always provides.  Always.  When we give our families and our children to Him, He is faithful and gives each of them what they need when they need it.  

--->Enter Arcatheos.

A few months ago I was scrolling bleary-eyed through my Facebook feed and sucking down my first of the morning coffees.  I glanced a video posted from Jason Evert about some camp he had taken his boys to last year.  Something stopped me and I clicked.  And then I was in tears.  Look at this picture of how my boy dresses on the daily (except the last few months when it's been close to 90 almost every. day.).   

You guys, he MADE that bow out of a straight up tree all by himself.  Now feel free to go watch the video and tell me that this camp wasn't specifically created for my son. At least, that's how it felt when I watched.  The thought of how this camp would speak to his heart was overwhelming. 

It took a bit of scrambling to get it all in place and we weren't sure it could happen at all but God provided in spades.  (Not only were the air tickets completely covered by points we had saved but after we paid the camp fee we realized that the fees were Canadian dollars which is, like, American play money, right?!  So the fees were actually a much less than we thought!)  

Because it was so soon and because we thought a surprise would add to the whole awesomeness of it all, he had no idea he was going.  At 2:30 a.m. we woke him up, his bag was packed, he got dressed, and they headed to the airport.  He had no idea where he was going except that he had been, as we put in the note on top of the bag, summoned to Arcatheos.  Can you put yourself back to being 12 years old and imagine how epic that would be?  It was so. fun. to do.  I hope that feeling sticks with him forever.

It was a long flight there but they were soothed upon their arrival by Chik-fil-A at the airport (#jealous).  John Paul still had no idea where they were going except now he knew that it was in Canada and Brian had printed out the Arcatheos backstory for him which he read on the plane.

I had almost no communication with them while they were there because of cell service and international roaming rates and all but I did get a couple texts that they were alive and loving it (which were much needed...I was dying to hear from them!!).

It was so clear that they were supposed to go from so many little signs that God gave us but there was still a little bit of wondering whether it would be as amazing as it looked.  According to my husband, the camp was even better than we had hoped.  According to my son, "If I were to imagine and make my own camp, THIS would be it."  It was really well run, totally Christ-centered, and my husband was seriously impressed by the men who organize it as well as the teenagers who are the "officers." There is Mass everyday, Confession available, two priests and five brothers present, solid spiritual formation talks, as well as the plot lines and battle scenes that the boys participate in.  The dads get to play along, too.

If you're interested in learning more about it, I'd highly recommend checking out their site.  We've only got a few phone photos to share but there are great ones on their site as well as on their Facebook page.

This was upon entry into Arcatheos when he first saw a ranger in the trees but didn't really know what it was all about.  Oh my goodness.  I wish I could have seen his expression!

They sleep in huge tents with this as their view.

I'm so so grateful to God that He saw fit to work this out for my boy.  And so grateful to the men that put this together.  It was a long and difficult week at home alone but the grace was so apparent and it was made so much sweeter by the fact that there was no doubt in my mind that God wanted them there.  I have no idea if, how, and who will be able to go back but He's shown Himself over and over that He will provide things as we need them.  And this?  This was exactly what this boy needed.


  1. Mary
    Oh my!! so blown away!!!
    I want to put all 6 of our boys on a plane to Canada for next year, disappointed the three who'd love it the most are now too old. (they were so like you JP) Chatted to my husband about starting one here in Australia, as someone who as run week long camps for whole families I just am blown away with how much work would go into this camp.
    the Video was soo professional, totally blown away.

    Now I have more questions, wanting guest posts from Brian and John Paul.
    When did Brian tell him just what was going to happen? Want to know JP's reaction to arriving in Canada, ininital impression of Arcatheos, I'm just smiling and smiling imagining how you told him(didn't) . Yep want to hear more of their impressions of the whole week. Do you have your younger boys (the over 7 set) clamouring to go now next year? I'm assuming JP is going back? what memories, incredible father/son memories!!!

    So thrilled for you all xx

    1. Haha, yes it is incredible, isn't it?? He knew on the car ride to the airport that they were going to Canada and on a plane (had to tell them at the border!) but only knew that they were going to 'a camp'. He didn't know anything about it until they arrived at the gates and went in! I think he was just blown away when he got there but then quickly felt right at home :) I hope he can go back but we'll have to see about finances and scheduling and such. We haven't told many specifics to the younger boys in case they get to go in the future, they can have a little bit of that same surprise. They do know they were at a camp in Canada and that there were other boys there and John Paul taught them some of the games they played. We figure we'll wait to make any decisions on the younger ones going and see whether we think it will be a good fit for all of them and worth the investment!

    2. Oh wow, at the gates! How thrilling for Brian to see his reaction. Hope Brian also enjoyed the week with him.

  2. btw has JP read the Ranger's Apprentice books by Australian author Brian Flanagan? This whole camp look reminds me of a Ranger's camp. If he hasn't highly recommend them, he will love them!

    1. Yes, he has! He just read almost all of them this year and you're right, he LOVED them!

  3. Oh and one more question, last one I promise. What are the swords at Arcatheos made of?

    1. I think they're larp swords...stiff latex foam that is used for cosplay and things like this. I'm sure he was wishing they were real ;)

    2. Yes, next up he'll be making one :-)

  4. Wow, what a blessing! I am so glad they had such a wonderful time.

  5. As an Officer of the grand legion of Arcatheos, I do recall your husband and child attending. Although I never got to personally get to know your boy, It amazes me to hear this story. I've known many a boy, (and officer) that 've come from far off lands to the realm of lumenorous, and to hear the story of your child, truly puts a smile on my face.


    Sergeant Dykstra


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