CHC’s Father and Son camp helps build parental bonds.
At school camps, children often do high-element activities that test the courage and fitness factor of each individual. But during City Harvest Church’s Father and Son camp held on June 20 and 21, it was the children who were on the ground, cheering their fathers who were attempting the high elements, also known as physical feats.
The camp was held over the Father’s Day weekend and featured many activities to encourage greater bonding between fathers and sons. These activities included outdoor cooking, tent-pitching and raft-building. There was also a session where fathers and sons prayed for one another and learned tips on how to improve their relationships through good communication.
According to camp organizer Fang Xin Wei, 28, the purpose of the camp was to allow opportunities for fathers and their sons to spend time together and interact in a casual and fun environment. He added, “Nowadays, parents are busy, so there is not much quality time that fathers and sons can spend together.”
For Eugene Tay, 38, an IT professional, the camp was a good opportunity for him to know more about his two sons and it turned out to be a special experience for him. “This is the first time I’ve pitched a tent with my kids and encouraged them during the high elements.”
Tay also learned a great deal about communication during a sharing session on the first night of the camp, conducted by Ng Bing Hwa, 44. Tay discovered that it was not just about what a father expects from his children, but what his children expect from him as their father. “I realized that I need to know what my children want daddy to do, and what they don’t want daddy to do,” acknowledged Tay. His older son, Emanuel, 10, clearly cherished the weekend with his father. He shared happily, “It’s the first time I pitched a tent with my dad, and I’d say we really did well!”
|CN PHOTOS: Ben Lee
The next day, Jason Wong from the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports conducted a session on fatherhood. “What we aim to do is create a movement where fathers will step into their roles,” said Wong. He encouraged fathers to be around for their children, to make time to listen to and encourage them whenever the need arises. At the end of the session, the fathers pledged their commitment to their sons. This was a touching moment and many were moved to tears.
Andy Zhu, 39, said, “The pledge really sealed me to my promise to be a good father and to spend more quality time with my children.”
The Father and Son camp also allowed the fathers to get to know other fathers who attended the camp. During mealtimes, the dads would gather around the table, talking about their work and army days. Contact numbers were also exchanged, with some fathers planning ahead for more father-son outings with other families.
On the last day, Choong Tsih Ming, a pastor of CHC, provided some useful advice on fatherhood and how to cope with stress from work. His session was one of the highlights of the camp. He advised fathers to de-stress before going home so that they would not vent their frustrations on their spouse or children. Choong emphasized the importance of fathers calling their children on the phone and expressing their love by hugging their children. He encouraged every father and son to come forward and share what they had learned during the camp.
One father sacrificed his sleep time just so he could keep his son cool in the tent. He would stay awake to fan his son whenever he awoke and would sleep only after his son went back to sleep. This father only slept two hours that night despite the tiring schedule earlier in the day.
Another dad, Vincent Chang, 45, a director in an insurance agency, talked about his son’s (John) courage. John had undergone many major operations when he was younger and had six bones surgically removed from his leg. “Even though the high elements were a big challenge for him, his courage helped him to go through it, not just once, but twice,” said Chang proudly.
That session ended with fathers and sons praying for each other. Fang commented on the success of the camp, “It is a joy for me to see that the camp made a difference in their lives. We hope that they will continue to spend quality time with each other [long] after the camp [is over].”