“We want to swim across the lake.”
A cautious observer said, “You need to have an adult with you.”
I had just come down to the lake to grab my towels and book that I had left there earlier in the day. Noticing what was happening, and the uncertain looks on the faces of these 10-14 year old boys, I replied–”Hey guys, I’ll grab a canoe and paddle out with you.” One of the boys’ mom’s came with me. Some of the boys opted to swim with a life jacket. This brought much relief to the cautious observer (who happened to be the camp director’s wife).
I could see it in the eyes of these boys–they wanted to test themselves. They wanted to see if they “had what it takes.”
Oh the joys of boyhood. And the even greater joys of growing out of boyhood into the cowboy stage of masculinity. How I remember the times when I was allowed to do something risky, to push myself, to be a part of a group doing the same thing, tasting achievement. It was even better when I knew there was someone strong watching, encouraging me along the way. I can still remember the face of the man who encouraged me as I struggled but then finally got up on a pair of water skis. To this day, I consider him one of a few key men who spoke into my life. Who helped me feel like a man.
The boys on the lake may not have seen anything other than a cool dare for themselves that warm July evening, but I believe that will be a memory that will not fade from the hearts.
Who knows? Maybe someday in the future they will be the man in the canoe, cheering on the boys of summer.