Our family celebrates lots of milestones.  Our goal is to use specific birthdays and transition points in life to create memories and teachable moments. (Much of our inspiration for this was generated by my reading of Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis. This is a must read book for fathers of sons!)

We think turning 13 is a pretty special occasion so Stacy and I decided to make a significant investment in a meaningful 13th birthday experience for our kids. Tim got a trip to see the Redskins play for his 13th. We still talk often about that adventure… (nosebleed seats on a rainy December day created a wonderful mix of misery & laughter!) But each kid is different so we look for unique experiences.

Zach has always loved to climb so we gave him a guided two-day rock climbing adventure at Seneca Rocks in WV. We camped in nearby Seneca Shadows Campground and literally walked to the Seneca Rocks Climbing School ‘porch’, then on to the mountain. I don’t have space to tell you all we learned and experienced; there’s just too much.  Zach & I will share stories and memories about the trip forever. But here’s the important part… The adventure created an incredible number of teachable moments for me as a dad.

Let me share one with you… at 13, I’ve given both Tim and Zach a copy of the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris and challenged them to read it. Zach was reading by the campfire Monday night and said, “Dad, do you have a pen, I need to underline this.” I gave him my pen and said, “What did you find?” He replied, “I like what this says.” “The teen years are not a vacation from responsibility. They are a training ground for future leaders who dare to be responsible now.”

Wow! That’s a pretty cool statement for him to key on, so I said, “What does that mean to you?” His reply was even better, “You can’t wait until you’re an adult. Training to be a good husband, father, grandfather, coworker, friend, boss or leader all starts when you’re a teen.” Did you catch that? Zach is making some connections to how what he does now at 13, will set the stage for his role as a grandfather. I was blown away.

So, we talked more about what it means to ‘Do hard things’. He even asked me about some hard things that I had done in life. I talked about job transitions, starting Noble Warriors and various other challenges, then I said…. “And tomorrow I’m really not thrilled about climbing that mountain because I’m a little nervous, but I’m going to do it anyway. Sometimes you have to move through fear to take on life’s challenges”.

The next day, we climbed to the top and ate lunch on the summit of Seneca Rocks. We trusted ropes, equipment, each other and our guide, Daniel, to get us there safely. The experience created all sorts of additional teachable moments about trusting God, setting strong anchors, and staying connected to other men.  We’ll reflect on our experience and the lessons learned for years to come.

Final Note: Guys, this was not cheap but an affordable adventure. The drive was 4 hours, we camped for 2 nights, and climbed for two days. We ate only one meal out (at a truck stop on I-81 which provided more teachable moments!) Our total price for the adventure was under $600 and that included a tip for our guide, (who was awesome by the way).  This is very doable! Men, good intentions are nice to talk about, but execution matters. You can do this. Next week, I’ll tell you about a milestone I’m about to celebrate with Ben.