Father and son Adventures go beneath the surface
Darren Lewis, the father of four adult sons, swapped a life of engineering for adventuring ten years ago.
Adventures where fathers could hang out with their sons or daughters (never both in the same adventure), deepen their connection with their offspring, and learn a lot about their parenting style.
The adventures happen in beautiful locations around Australia, usually several days filled with physical challenges like horse-riding, kayaking, abseiling, scuba diving, hiking, dirt bike riding, and white water rafting. Then at night, heartfelt communication and coaching. “Far too few fathers know how important they are in their kids’ lives,” says Darren, founder of Fathering Adventures.
“Part of what we do with the adventures is to coach the dads in regards to their role as dads, what their sons or daughters need from them, to provide them opportunities to apply what they have learned with us, and that the journey will continue.
“I believe we come into this world with a toolbelt; the problem is we’ve got empty toolbelts. We give the dads the tools they need to succeed as dads.”
Darren started combining his love of helping people with a recreational offering after he found locals from his hometown Townsville were increasingly asking for his help as a relationship counsellor. In 2007, he sensed a lack of awareness around ‘father wounding’. A key focus of his fathering weekends is to explore the question: What does it mean to be a man?
“You cannot become what you cannot define,” says Darren. “If we can’t define manhood, then how can we ever be a man? The other pivotal element is, when do you become a man? Few men can pinpoint the moment if you ask mature-aged men, ‘when did you become a man?’.
“We provide a ceremony for boys to cross the threshold, called by dads out of boyhood into young manhood, or out of young manhood into authentic manhood.”
The Adventures are unique because fathers and sons of any age can attend them. A 13-year-old boy and his 40-year-old dad might participate with a 40-year-old son and his 70-year-old dad at the Rites of Passage weekends.
Darren Lewis and his son Brandon, taken several years ago when Darren started Fathering Adventures.
The hook is the outdoor element; having an experiential experience is powerful for participants. “I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand,” says Darren.
“Every man has desires to live a great adventure. The real adventure takes place in the men’s lives, their kids’ lives, and their relationships.”
“The term ‘adventure’ is the pursuit of life. To have more life, we’ve got to pursue more life. It involves risk.”
And it’s fun, a whole lot of fun.
“One thing that gets overlooked is how underrated having fun is. When was the last time you remembered that you had loads of fun with your dad? How much fun are you to be around? Is that what others would say about you?”
The fun happens around serious conversations and “relationship adventures” as men are asked, ‘When did you become a man, and did your dad help usher you into that manhood identity?’
The Father Adventures aspires to be the catalyst for good, healthy, lasting change; of reclaiming and redeeming fatherhood.
On a practical note, the activities included in the Adventures are run by commercial operators, while Darren and his wife, Melissa, facilitate group work coaching and night-time presentations on fathering.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have subsided, business is again on the up, and Darren is seeing a backlog of people wanting to travel and attend his fathering experiences.