Boys Are Not China Dolls


Murmurs in the in the wind have drifted through the windows in Griswold. I understand that some are under the impression that we are planning some kind of torture/work camp for the father-son encampment. This could not be further from the truth. What we are actually planning is to provide, in addition to the many other fun things we do, a grueling challenge course that we call the Crucible.

Before I say more on that, I apologize if I frightened anyone by the “Slingshot” post on September 9th. It was a joke, as I noted at the bottom of the post. I wish some of you would have my number by now.

Most of you know of Doug Barry and his effective way of engaging young people. He has been here before, and the boys had a great time. Doug is full of energy, funny, spot on orthodox and extremely motivating. He pushes the boys to their limits, and they have a fun in the process. Our challenge course was designed and will be run by him.

The father/son encampment is an apostolate of the Knights of Lepanto, and from this event we hope to formalize a committed group of Squires. We encourage all Catholic men and boys to come. No one is expected to become a Knight or Squire of Lepanto; even so, the encampment does bear the charism of the Knights. Perhaps it is not for everyone; however, personally I think our structure and organization is very effective to bring about both top notch formation and fun.

I also want to remind everyone how eager we are to provide a safe, Catholic and friendly environment for Catholic families, both homeschooling and otherwise. This we have done and will continue to do; however, we are not principally here for that. We are here to provide Marian formation to men, women and young people. This we will do. We are looking for believers in what we are doing. We are looking for commitment. We are looking for people to get on board and support what we are doing.

A great deal of prayerful thought has gone into the encampments and everything we are doing with the Knights of Lepanto. Not only the friars have contributed, but also the Knights themselves. For this reason the encampments have been successful, and, please God, will continue to be so.

In any case, the boys will not break by having themselves pushed both spiritually and physically. It is the characteristic of the male sex to take some risks and to find joy in facing and overcoming obstacles. As long as those risks are reasonable and controlled and as long as the obstacles are accompanied by fatherly support, training and encouragement, only good things will come of it.

Mothers, don’t baby your boys. The feminine characteristic of chivalry is to expect the highest standards of men and settle for nothing but that. The encampment is designed exactly for this kind of formation in an age appropriate way.

Here is a video of the boot camp (challenge course) that Doug built on his property in Nebraska. Our course will be virtually the same.

25 thoughts on “Boys Are Not China Dolls

  1. Ave Maria,
    Not to be taken for a male chauvinist, I don’t honestly mind the cute comments. However when mothers are stating, publicly or privately, that they have fears about a MALE encampment it does frustrate me. This Boot Camp is needed in our day and age of the de-masculinization of our boys, and the pro-feminization of our men. So take this for all it means when I say, women get back into the kitchen. Let your men be men, let your boys grown in chivalry, to be knights for Our Lady, and soldiers for Christ. If you believe that your boys can’t handle this type of physical and intellectual training, then you are only adding fuel to the feminazi fire. Take a lesson from Our Lady, and be submissive to your husband. Let him “break” his son’s mold, which is his God given grace, and his God given responsibility.

    Men don’t succomb to your wife’s emotions. Stand up and tell them that this is important for the Christ like development of your sons. That it is important that you take your son on a quest, that this quest will be 100% safe, and 1000% beneficial for the chivarlistic development of our young men. If your wife interferes with the planning, development, or running of this boot camp, ask Our Lady to give you the grace to ask your wife to let it be, and to step aside. If you have doubts or fears, come run it before it is complete we are currently working on it. If you think your boys can’t handle it, then shame on you for doubting your son.
    Come on people if your not with us, your against us. Therefore you’re only adding to the problem and not becoming part of the solution.

    Women please stay out of which you don’t belong.

    Ave Maria

    St Francis Xavier, Pray for Us
    St. Joseph, Pray for Us

  2. I will say this in deference to the mothers: We have been very careful all along to be age appropriate in the both the spiritual and physical activities. We will continue to do so.

    The video I have posted from Doug’s boot camp, reflects a program that lasts a week or more. The kids in this video have had time to develop their strength and skill. We will not expect more from the boys at the encampment than is reasonable.

    In any case, they will have a blast.

  3. Dear Set All Afire,
    I must insist that I disagree with you. Fist point “I honestly don’t mind the cute comments”. obviously you do mind. You not only mind you have read them completely contrary to what they mean. You have lost your reason out of anger . None of us have stated that we don’t want our sons to go but instead have chosen to remind men, as is our vocation, that what is proposed is dangerous.
    Second point; “I don’t want to be taken for a male chauvanist” Now sir you are just plain contridicting yourself, ” women get back into the kitchen.”
    Third point “men don’t succomb to your wifes emotions” It is my greatest hope that what the friars are doing is restoring Balance to married life, not swing the pendalum the other way. Husbands and wives have to respect each other and I find very little in your post that reflects respect for women.
    Lastly “Women stay out of what you don’t belong” It is a womans vocation to protect her children and she needs to be astute in which form danger comes. If a mother is overly protective then a husbands duty isn’t to humiliate her. He should reassure her. I have the greatest hope for the encampment to be a great success but don’t expect me not to point out what is dangerous in as light away as I can. That is my job as a mother.

  4. Of course there is danger involved. That’s the point. Life is dangerous. Boys, in the noble pursuit of becoming men, NEED to experience hardship, suffering, injury, victory, defeat, humiliation & glory that comes with these type of challenges in order to prepare themselves for the real challenges of life – and for death itself. Every boy ought to run gauntlets, crawl through swamps, climb mountains, spend days alone in the wilderness and fight for the honor of a lady (Our Lady.) But the one danger a boy should never willfully subject himself to is to put himself in the midst of a group of emotionally charged women. Talk about bloodletting…

  5. Steve, I agree with everything your saying except that I’m not that emotionally charged. I want to point out that it’s the fella’s this time. VERY SCARY!

  6. Ummm…. Guess I missed a bit of this debate/discussion/debacle…….Thanks Be To God!

    I dunno – push ups, pull ups, running around and some competition – sounds pretty scary to me!

    Think I’ll go get another slice of quich!

    Ave Maria!

  7. Roy

    I think that’s quiche, which real men don’t eat. Quich, accor ding to what I can find, means “to stir.”

    I think that might make you a quicher or quichor, a distinction which some other of those who comment here are well qualified for. I suppose I might qualify as well.

    Stir away, but everyone try to be nice, especially the men who need to practice courtesy in a special way toward women, even if they want to baby the boys.

  8. Dear, Fr. Angelo,

    I have viewed the video and do not see anything dangerous. Did I go through Raddix’s “camp?” No, however, I have executed similar courses at six or seven different army bases in the US, multiple times. By similar, I mean courses defined with the words “obstacle.” The obstacle course in the video looks more like a fancy playground to me. I am not trying to brag about my experiences. I am only saying that I have had experience actually running through these in conditions that were more dangerous.

    Could kids get hurt? A couple of weeks ago, my cousin in my native country was bottling tomatoes and she leaned forward and, as she sat back on her chair, the chair slipped and my cousin found herself on the floor, with a broken tailbone. Thus, there is an element of danger associated with every activity, as my unfortunate cousin discovered.

    Perhaps, the concern of some people (and I do not know for sure, I am only speculating) is that the crowd will force a boy to traverse an obstacle he fears and thus become injured in the process. However, this camp is not airborne school, where, if you changed your mind, we would push you out of the plane…I think there will be monitors throughout to prevent boys from bullying others. Even if the monitors do not exist, the course is still mild, no more dangerous than a typical playground.

    I vote to go for it.

    In Christ,

  9. Dear Frqnciscan Family,

    Though our family has moved away from all the activity in Griswold, I feel I can add some productive comments.
    First, I too, have had the benefit of running obstacle courses at Ft Dix, NJ (many, many years ago). The courses were more difficult than what I see on the video which Fr A supplied above. For those of you who don’t know me, and have sons wishing to attend the Encampment, I am less than 5 feet. I was chosen as one of 11 trainies as “Outstanding Trainie” when the 3 1/2 months were completed. I was never hurt. I had sore, strong muscles, and felt my self-esteem rise.
    With that said, and knowing the love the friars have for their spiritual children, I feel all will be well (though my practical side must pose the question as to what happens if the is a fracture/break? I feel sure Fr A has thought of this in advance.)
    As for the chauvinistic comment made above by Fire…I do believe St Joan of Arc was a woman “out of the kitchen” who sent the Frenchmen into battle to recover the rightful kings crown! And I do believe if Jesus hadn’t stayed in the kitchen to watch His holy Mother, He would never have taught us how to be leaven in the world. So you see, being in the kitchen is a wonderful thing!
    Second, I believe the obstacle course to be a good thing as long as everyone remembers it tests phsical prowess, mental strength, and perseverence in the children. By the way, I do not remember Jesus running a course in order to love His Mother.
    True and lasting chivalry comes from living examples; good role models such as dads, friars, and saints. Chivalry, if it is to be had, comes from a loving heart…chivalry is just one of many fruits of Love.
    I wish my Joe could attend the Boot Camp…should have seen the smile on his face when he watched the video!
    PS~ Those of you who know me and my family, know that my oldest is now attending Christendom College in Front Royal, VA. My son, who I felt I was ‘protecting’ these last 18 years from harm is now canoeing along rivers, preparing to white water raft, and talking of going to South America in the summer to work with poor children. Ladies, you cannot protect them forever…that is why God gave us two knees and two hands…Pray for their safety and health and give them over to Our Holy Mother, and the Guardian Angels! AVE MARIA Family

  10. Yeah well,

    I asked my wife how to spell it and so….. Maybe that was part of the test? Goes to show ya eh! Not quite sure what, but I’m sure someone will let me know.

    Ave Maria!

  11. In true Christ like chivalry, I will admit that what I said can found to be offensive. My sincere apologies to those in which were offended. I was merely trying to state, in the most firm way possible, that it is a Father’s place to help his son become a true soldier for Christ, and a Knight for Our Lady. It is a mother’s place to be the hearth bearer of her home, take care of her family in the most Marian way possible. If she has fears about what is deemed to be dangerous, then she has fears, and it is her husband’s vocation to assure her to let go of her fears, give it up to God for the souls in purgatory. He should tell her to let him worry about the “dangers” in which his boy is about to face, then it should be done for the mothers, her fears have been taken away by her husband as it should be. She then can go back and be the hearth bearer as God intended it to be.
    Once again sorry for offending, I meant no harm, I was just defending in which needed to be defended.
    Ave Maria
    St Francis Xavier, Pray for us
    St Joseph, Pray for us

  12. I think we are making just too much of this course. This discussion brings back memories about a NY club in the early part of the 1980s. A group of women went to court in order to break down the barrier and force the club to allow women. The club was men’s club, where men could gather and do men things. Some women, however, felt that men could not have their own private space. The courts ruled in favor of the women, and I lost track of what happened next. I do remember, however, that even in the communist commonwealth of Massachusetts, there were many times after a college sporting event where I had to ensure women were not in the locker rooms reporting a story or whatever before I could change….

    I suppose what the men are saying with the kitchen comments is “Let us be men” and (By the way my dad was a 4 star chef in the North End of Boston – he made his living in the kitchen) not invade our locker rooms or our private clubs.

    I might have to lift my five year old daughter unto the monkey barks and catch her on the other end, but, aside from this type of assistance and except for the vertical wall jump, she can easily do these activates…I have seen her. I certainly think boys can do these things too; we would not want them to grow up to be girly-men.

    If a mom has a legitimate concern about the boy getting hurt, let the friars know and I am sure they can take steps.

    Otherwise, let men be men.


    By the way, before going back in the kitchen, my wife gave permission to me to post this email. LOL!

  13. The ‘get back to the kitchen’ comment is not appreciated! I, for one, do not like to cook. But as a girl, I would also love the physical challenges that the Knights are providing for boys. What do the girls get, cooking classes?

    Now I am a feminine type female and wear dresses and all that. But I also had 18 years of karate and enjoy the physical challenge. Not only should it be provided for boys but something also needs to be done for the girls. Girls are no longer relegated to the kitchen, bedroom and sewing room. Okay?

    As for my own sons, if we lived close, I would be delighted to send them to you! And they would love the challenge. And, I would send my husband because as he closes in on 200 pounds and has too much time on the couch, he could use the physical challenge–as long as it did not give him a heart attack!

    Ave Maria!

  14. Oy Vey…. Is everyone taking Fr. Angelo’s joke about the slingshot to heart? Firstly.. it was hysterical! Second, the obstacle course planned in no way is harmful for the boys. I have witnessed firsthand what happens to boys when their mom’s are nervous nellie’s and won’t let them do anything or go anywhere for fear of “bears, ticks, cuts, broken bones etc…” I agree with Marie, God gave us two knees if we are so concerned about the boys safety, look at where that fear is coming from, give it to God and let it go. Perhaps “set all afire” could have been less blunt but.. there it is.
    Also, girls do need to learn to cook and sew and clean etc… That is our vocation, unless God calls us to be a Joan of Arc.

  15. Well, I am not only a joker, sometimes, but a quicher, as noted above to Roy. Thanks for the participation, everyone.

    I do believe in complementarity, and the cautions are well taken. I also apologize for sometimes being too much the quicher and not always following my own council, namely to always be courteous to the ladies.

    Not only do I promise to help make men out of the boys, but to make them gentlemen as well.

  16. OK folks,

    I am just as concerned about the boys safety as anybody, and especially those boys with some type of physical disability that may hamper them. BUT I do realize that Doug Barry has been successful with his program and I haven’t heard of any liabilities to any of the boys at his camps. I will personally be there at this encampment and I will make sure that the boys will enjoy everything they are doing. I have been in “Boot Camp” scenarios before with kids, this isn’t even close. This is merely Phys Ed Class in the field, and they’ll learn some catechism at the same time how much better than that can it get for guys.

    Moms and Dads with concerns, please relax a little, we have done things with these boys in the past 2 encampments that they have enjoyed and could have been exceptionally dangerous if the proper supervision wasn’t there (Archery and Fencing). It was there then and will be there for this encampment. I think they guys will enjoy themselves and I can’t possibly see any reason for major despair.

    As for the girlie man concept, hey I don’t know anything about that, but will say the boys will enjoy this because they can. It’ll just be fun for them and give them an outlet to run and exercise that doesn’t involve a trophy or contest for winning. Although something about cleaning up for the last place group could be a point of contention, but even that isn’t too bad, just ask the last group that had to do it. By the way…. they ended up not having to do the next encampment. Yes the motivation to clean is a good thing for the boys to step up their challenge.

    I would fear more for the Dads than the boys, most of us aren’t ready for this at all. Let’s hope we aren’t competing or we are seriously going to have to do dishes.

    As said in a previous message the girls need challenges as well, I have been patient but have expressed concern for the girls and their needs, I do believe something should be in place, but let us finish getting what we started completed, then we can go to the next step in working with the girls. We will need as much support from the women as we have from the men, if not more so when we begin that jopyful task.

    Thank you all and let’s get this setup and enjoy the show. Hopefully we can have a lot of video and photography out there for the Moms to see and cherish. You know stuff like the boys goofing up and having fun.

    Ave Maria!!

  17. Ave Maria!

    Thom and all,

    The girls program will come. I really think that their program will have to be run mostly by the mothers and sisters. This will require the friars coordinating with the sisters and the sisters coordinating with the mothers.

    The sisters have already invited the girls to form a choir, but that will mean that the girls really need to be at the friary for First Saturday and Cenacle Sunday. The sisters were here on First Saturday, but their were very few girls.

    I think it is iincumbent upon the parents to express their interest TO THE SISTERS, and coordinate with them so that this choir idea takes off. It may not be every girl’s dream right now, nor exactly what the parents are looking for, but it’s what is available right now at the sisters’ offering. Take advantage of it, and more will follow.

  18. Ave Maria
    The Maloney boys wanted to know (1) why can’t we build a slingshot Dad?, (2) where are the plans for it in the Dangerous Book for Boys, and (3) we never got to do that at the Friary when we lived in CT.
    God Bless
    Virginia Beach

  19. Nice hearing from you Jerry.

    1) You may, but I am not recommending it. 2) The plans are not in the DBB. Doug Barry sent us photos and video, and we made our own plans. 3) Sorry. Come back.

  20. Ave Maria

    Thank you for the reassurance for the girls and I know things are being put into place for them. Participation is needed for more momentum to occur. If the choir is the place to start than women, make it overwhelming, Yes, let the sisters know your concerns and wants. Let the people who want to lead get excited about the amount of girls needing to be led.

    The girls need this outlet they have more against them in this society than the boys do, let us all see what we can do to be supportive of the efforts for the girls.

  21. Ave Maria!

    There is one thing nobody has mentioned. This is CATHOLIC and if there was anything dangerous for the kids the public would be all over Doug’s encampment. My boys are very excited and nervous(something about pullups?) I think they will have loads of fun and they will be learning as well. How awesome is that. Good Luck to all the dads, the boys may just out last them.

  22. Thom, my daughter, Sara, is attempting to get the girls together once a month on a Wednesday, during Fr. Bonaventure’s work day for the boys. They have already met a couple of times to help clean the chapel, I believe. There are other things that the girls can do to help out as well….perhaps, St. Joseph’s chapel? Fra Joseph has led this effort. If anyone is interested, please let me know.

    Nancy Federico

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