Do you ever feel new learning? Good new learning can take us to a place that is so transformative, that we feel that new insight impacting deep within.

Your blogger felt that ‘new-ness’ around a campfire at the recent Time & Space expedition for Simonds College. Over the years, I’ve been on many of these camps and they are all great experiences. Dads or mentors being there intentionally as their boys get to be their leaders on a journey.

There is a point in time on the first night of the camp when the traditional older generation authority is officially reversed. We say, “OK, the boys are now in charge.” In the earlier sessions at the school, the ground-rules are outlined… the boys are our leaders on the expedition and when we say, “Start”, the dads can’t give any advice from that moment unless they are asked! It is always a source of amusement, in theory, prior to the rule coming in to force. Let me tell you, I have had some very focused chats over the years with some frustrated dads who wanted to break the ground-rules and give their young leaders, not just one piece of advice but every single piece of advice that had been boiling up in them over the journey!

It is tough for most dads to step back. Dads are often the boundary setters. They can see the danger ahead for their kids but, just imagine how much more perplexing this program condition is when it is completely foreign to your cultural traditions. This is where I felt the new learning with the questions that Michael and Tam put to me. Michael (whose name has been anglicised) and Tam were both born in Vietnam. Both, as young men, made their journeys to Australia from a country ravaged by war and poverty. So, when the official handing over of decision making was given to the boys, Tam and Michael followed me around that fire and were intent on understanding more!

“Bill, this is very interesting to us” says Michael, “In our culture, the father is a person of high authority.” Tam nods in agreement. They explain that if a boy wants to get a message to his father, he usually does it via the intermediary of his mother.

Tam explains, “We worry that they will go down the wrong path… so we say things like, ‘no girlfriend’, ‘no boyfriend’ to our children until they finish university.” Michael agrees.

I am feeling the new learning. I am seeing the need to clarify, come from Michael and Tam. I am seeing also, these two men bringing some new insights to themselves.

“This could be important for us. These rules for the camp could teach us something.”

The next morning, Michael sidles up and tells me that, in their two-man tent as they went off to sleep, his son shared with him that he has a girlfriend.

There is a bit more of this tale to be told in next week’s post but for now, let me tell you that at this point in the story, Michael is beaming. He let the new learning in.

Thanks for taking the Time & Space to read this.

Bill Jennings