By Aaron Farley

I want my boys to be wild. The wonders of the wild, and the art of adventure, shore up something in a man’s soul that my generation is quickly losing. My kid’s generation will grow up without many Teddy Rosevelts, Daniel Boones, and Fred Bears. Often, it is in the wilderness where a man learns to steel his spine, grit his teeth, and make something happen. In the wild, boys can exercise their natural desire to be…wild.

One of the greatest joys in my life is being a father to my 3 boys. Our little family is growing at what seems like warp speed. It seems like just yesterday I was staring into the screaming face of my firstborn son the night he was born. Now, we are talking schools and planning for the future.

As we try to make preparations for the guys’ future, I also want to actively be knitting their hearts. I want my sons to know that their Daddy loves them, and enjoys them. I want the bond we have to be welded to the fabric of their soul. I realize I am not in control, but I want to set my sons up to have a great relationship with each other, and their dad. Naturally, a lot of that bonding time will take place in the outdoors.

Looking ahead, how do I move in this direction? How do I help them become capable men? How do I raise them to be wild? By design, my sons instinctively want to be doing whatever I am. It seems the best place to connect with them is around what already excites them.

Hoisting a 4 year old into a tree stand, or carrying a 1 year old into a creek bottom at 5:30 am are probably not the best places to start. There are other ways I can introduce my children to the outdoors and provide a safe fun experience for them until they are ready to join me. Here are some things I’ve done when my guys wanted to be a part of what I was doing that have worked well. These are ways I hope to bond with them, and nurture their wild side.

They want to go hunting. To share this with them, I get them involved in my packing for hunts, and processing the game at home. To play with them, I hide stuffed animals around the house, and we spot and stalk them with their pop guns.

They want to do archery. To share this with them, they help mark yardage, pull arrows, and pick which symbol on the target gets shot. To play with them, we shoot their Bear Archery “1st Shot” bow & arrow kit that has been worth its weight in gold.

They want to go fishing. To share this with them, I usually try to take them to a pond where a playground is nearby. An entire day hooking worms and staring at bobbers is not the way to keep the attention of a posse of miniature terrorists. We take a lot of breaks and hit the slides and play tag in between casts. To play with them, we play with a small fishing pole rigged with a huge foam treble hook they use to reel in foam fish in the yard.

They want to camp out. To share this with them, I go camping with them in the yard. We build a fire, roast s’mores and play with lanterns until they crash and magically wake up in their beds the next morning. To play with them, we have a small tent they set up and use their kid-sized backpacks filled with their version of camping gear. My favorite gear is their toy phillips head screw driver they use to “cut up the deer so we can eat it.”

When I think about the future, I hope that my boys will enjoy the things I enjoy. My hope is that they are men of courage, resolve, and passion. Every night when I tuck them into bed and say their prayers, I make sure they hear me thank God for allowing me to be their Dad, and ask for them to live a “wild” life.

– Aaron Farley, RusticMan.com

(Editor’s Note: Have you visited Aaron’s own website, RusticMan.com, yet? If not, take one extra minute today and head over there now if you can. RusticMan.com is a site designed to be a source of learning, encouragement, and support to keep men everywhere equipped with the masculine skills and know-how that are quickly fading into a sea of cubicles and video games. Aaron shares tips, stories and insight into everything from hunting, to raising chickens, to building saws and camo dipping rifles. What’s not to like about that? – MK)