Mere Masculinity – Catalina Island



Twenty-four young men from Brook Hill experienced the week of a lifetime along with Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Rhoads.  On Catalina Island at Campus by the Sea, an Intervarsity camp, this crew of 26 arrived by way of the Catalina Express on Monday, March 17th and began their adventure.  The theme for the week was Mere Masculinity, a theme that had been explored with other groups of young men on this same island the previous three years.  The structure of the week was simple:  gather for campfire discussions in the mornings and evenings; work through a curriculum on becoming rugged, Christian gentlemen; in between tackle a challenge each day that would accentuate each campfire lesson; and along the way have a life-changing experience.

The primary material that we used was from the book of Nehemiah, following a construction motif, with a view to building a masculine life.  The first day we laid down the need for godly men to impact the culture.  Tuesday we “cleared the site” through an exercise of personal repentance and forsaking of sin.  That same day the guys actually had the opportunity to operate a back hoe, and physically remove chunks of earth and stone, representing sins of the past.  Wednesday we “laid the foundation” on Christ the solid rock as well as discuss the constant resistance that we would face as we attempted to build lives of Biblicalmasculinity.  Later that day we persevered together through a seven mile hike, with the first two miles pitched at an extreme incline.  Through this we came to better understand the work that is necessary in overcoming resistance to our task as men as well as our daily fight for holy living.  Thursday we discussed the proper and improper building materials that are available to us and how to select that which is good as we construct our lives.  Among those materials, we discussed AIRS (Authority, Initiative, Responsibility and Sacrifice), identified by Doug Wilson in For a Glory and A Covering as the primary traits of masculinity.  We also considered F8 (or Fate), a system for taking the major categories of life (Faith, Family, Field, Finances, Friends, Fitness, Fun and Future) and devised a plan for maximizing each.  Also among the good and necessary materials were Church, the Brotherhood, prayer and the Word of God.  Our final campfire session was spent atop a cross-adorned peak discussing maintenance of our new structure, along with a plan to put into practiceat least one aspect ofwhat they had learned during the week on Catalina Island.   The setting for such work was perfect: no electricity, no cell phones, no televisions, no computers and no video games. The young men even commented on how they much they valued being free from such trappings.


In addition to these sessions and object lessons the guys also snorkeled in 61 degree water, journeyed by boat to Seal Rock to observe hundreds and hundreds of sea lions, learned the art of sailing in an original 1960’s wooden sailing vessel, spear fish with a master free diver, were surrounded by a pod of dolphins as they kayaked through the Pacific Ocean, caught a variety of ocean dwellers including mackerel, sheep head, calico bass, bonita (which we cooked on the camp fire) guitar fish, sea cucumber and moray eel.  Besides these amazing encounters the guys also got a chance to site wild buffalo, bald eagles, leopard sharks, bat rays, star fish, octopus, foxes, deer and multiple other land and marine life.


From weather, to campfire talks, to the interaction we had with God’s amazing creation, to the challenges we conquered together, it could not have been a more perfect week – a week that none of us will ever forget.  It was a week that changed us all for the better and a week in which we better learned what it means to be a godly man.