SAVANNAH, Ga. -- "Once more, amid the breeze, the shouting, the slanting sunlight on the high mountain, was shed; that glamour, that strange invisible light of friendship, adventure and content… This day promised, like the others, to be a sunbath under a blue dome."
This combined passage from William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," describes a simple day filled with fun, laughter and play. Where the cares of the outside world have melted away and boys soak in everything that nature can give.
It also sums up the two-day scene during the Father and Son Retreat for 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment (Airborne) Soldiers, April 8-9, in Savannah, Ga. It was an adventure weekend, intended to help fathers and sons bond and build cohesion between the Soldiers participating.
Hosted by the chaplain team of the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment (Airborne), the days were filled with outdoor activities such as an archery, skeet, and rifle ranges; climbing walls; camp fires; s'mores; and rope burning contests where contestants built a fire high enough to burn through a water soaked rope.
"I remember changing this one's diapers, now he is setting up our tent in the woods without any help," Staff Sgt. Montay Gardiner, one of the fathers attending the retreat and a maintenance Soldier for the 3-160th, proudly said, as he stood back in awe of his six-year-old son, Alex.
But prior to heading out to the campground with their sons, the fathers were treated to relationship training from a speaker who had a little extra insight on raising children.
Chaplain (Col.) Bob Owen, the Joint Special Operations Command chaplain, has almost three decades of knowledge of raising sons with his service in the chaplain corps. He also has nine children total, six of them boys. More than 50 Soldiers listened as the talked about the challenges and opportunities of raising sons.
"I don't have all the answers," Owen prefaced his talk. "I'm just a pilgrim along the way like all of you."
Character, competence and calling were the dominate themes of the training, and an overarching idea that each Soldier has what it takes to be a great father.
"By raising your hand to volunteer for the Army, and then again for this elite unit, you have all shown strong character," Owen told the men. "That is something you can depend upon and should rely on to be good fathers to your sons."
He explained that good and bad examples of fathering in their own lives helped provide them experience, background, and the competence to be good fathers. Their collective callings to be fathers should give them both hope and encouragement.
Owen also stressed, it is never too late to fix a wrong or to make up for lost time.
"In our line of work, since we are gone often, guys might struggle with the guilt of being away and missing significant moments," he said. "While there may be lost opportunities, there is always the possibility of reconnecting and recovering what has been lost."
He said not to worry about being wrong or making mistakes; it's never too late to fix it.
Fathers and sons had no set schedule, but made their own, with suggested activities sprinkled in. Some tried to pack in as much as they could by engaging in some activities twice. Others just sat by the lake with one another, fishing and enjoying each other's company.
Just like another "Lord of the Flies" passage, they enjoyed nature and each other.
"They accepted the pleasures of morning, the bright sun, the whelming sea and sweet air, as a time when play was good and life so full that hope was not necessary and therefore forgotten."