I Dare You to “Dads Camp”

Camping is not my thing. Still, when I first heard about Dads Camp I couldn’t help but investigate. Many men I looked up to at Willow Creek, lots of them “noncamper” types like myself, raved about the soul-shifting power of Camp Paradise. They talked about what came alive in their hearts and homes, families and friendships, all because they dared to make the 450-mile trek away from church with their son or daughter.

In all honesty, these men had something indescribable that I wanted. (You know it’s gotta be good when what they had made me willing to come home with my own horsefly stories and tales of the chilly Tahquamenon River.) Deep down, I wanted what these dads had for my kids. I wanted it for my marriage. But really, I wanted it for myself. For me, it was the steely look in their eyes, the humble tone of their voice, and the inseparable bond they shared with their kids, that compelled me to check out Dads Camp firsthand and finally commit.

And so, before my firstborn turned one, I decided to take the Dads Camp dare as soon as he was old enough. I couldn’t put it into words then, but I was really signing up to pursue the best connections in life. Camp Paradise, and the ever-growing community of dads that called it home for a short season each summer, called me out so my relationship with God, my child, and other men could soar.

Today, I’m as surprised as I am proud to say, I’ve been to Dads Camp over a dozen times and it’s a dare that no dad will regret. The life-changing impact God has made on me, my two sons, and my family through the ministry of Camp Paradise is impossible to quantify, but an investment I’d make again in a heartbeat…mosquito bites and all!

If you’re on the fence about Dads Camp, 2019 is your year.

You don’t have to go every summer to Camp Paradise with your son or daughter to “do it right” as a dad. The only time it’s too late to take the Dads Camp dare is when registration is already closed or your child ages out. Trust me, you want to make Camp Paradise a priority and this is your year to start or keep your commitment going. As I think about what tipped me over the fence about Dads Camp, here are four questions that helped me decide.


  1. If you weren’t up for a challenge, would you be a dad?

    Parenting is a challenge whether you love or struggle with your role as a father. You need conviction and courage to build into yourself, your child(ren), family, and the world around you. The fact is, God believes you have what it takes to be a dad and so does the leadership at Camp Paradise. Dads Camp is a great way for you to stretch and strengthen your role as a father.


  2. Are you still buying into Fatherhood Myth #1? — “I’ll figure this dad thing out on my own as I go.”

    If you’ve ever tried to canoe alone, you know Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 is true: “Two are better than one.” If you didn’t catch Pastor Jeff Manion’s message “The Worth of Community” at Willow Creek, you need to watch it from your chair as a father. The fact is, fatherhood and family life are complicated, and you can’t do this well by yourself. Dads Camp knows full well that it’s impossible to steer yourself and your home in the right direction if you don’t cultivate the best spiritual and relational connections.


  3. Did you know Dads Camp isn’t a destination, it’s a family trajectory decision?

    Yes, if you take the dare and drive to Dads Camp you’ll put a lot of miles on your car. But remember, the goal isn’t getting there—it’s being there and bringing the person you become for the better back home. When you choose to invest in your relationship with God, your child, and your spouse/friendships, it will recalibrate you and your family’s trajectory. Whether you like it or not, if you don’t make something like a session at Camp Paradise a priority this summer, it’s unlikely that your family will be any healthier relationally, emotionally, or spiritually by the time school starts in the fall.


  4. Will you lock arms with other dads and kids to pursue the best connections?

Take it from me, someone who doesn’t love to camp but loves God, my sons, and my family and friends deeply—do whatever it takes to unplug and reset this summer. Take the Dads Camp Dare. Pick a session, register today, and protect your schedule. You won’t regret it.


CLICK HERE to explore Dads Camp dates and request a spot March 1-8.

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