Father-son retreat offers a two-way perspective
Published: Tuesday, January 2, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 1, 2007 at 11:42 p.m.
It's a father-son retreat where organizer Eric Diamond hopes the lessons will flow in two directions.
"We believe men of all ages have gifts to give each other," said Diamond, a Gainesville psychologist, who for the past 10 years has led a Monday night group for men.
The retreat, hosted by The Gainesville Men's Center, will be held Jan. 19 -- 21 at Luther Springs near Hawthorne. Diamond says he already has two 40-year-old sons signed up to attend with their 60-year-old fathers.
"It's open to the entire spectrum of fathers and sons, nothing would make us happier than to have 60 and 80 (year-olds)," he said.
Diamond has conducted "Exploring the Masculine" retreats for men 18 and older, and the father-son retreat grew from that experience. He says there's a need for connection, but it's not always easy.
"Some have barriers to connection and some have pressures and distractions that are pushing them apart," he said.
Keith Rambo says over the years he and his sons Thomas and Matthew have done many things together - Boy Scouts, hiking, camping, and last summer with his wife Teresa, they did an eight-day canoe trek through Canada. He and Thomas, who turns 19 this month, will be attending the retreat. He'd attended one of Diamond's earlier retreats for men and found it helpful.
"I learned that the experiences we go through in life are not that dissimilar, and we're not alone," he said.
From the father-son retreat he hopes to learn more about how he interacts with his sons and how they interact with him.
Thomas Rambo is a freshman at the University of Florida majoring in aeronautical engineering. He says his dad passed on practical knowledge, like how to fix a car and how to work with computers. He's also offered the big picture lessons by example, like when attending scouting he'd see his dad take charge, be the first to arrive and the last to leave.
"He's pretty big on morality and I always try to do the right thing. I get that from him," Thomas Rambo said.
But he says he's also been a teacher for his father, offering lessons on patience and tolerance and on keeping an open eye to new things.
Richard Tragash has two sons. Jake, 19, is a student at Santa Fe Community College, and Eli, 17, is a student at Eastside High School. Eli is a wrestler, and Tragash says he likes going to the matches to see his son wrestle. He also likes sharing the kitchen with Eli when they cook at home. With Jake, who moved out of the house when he started college, he enjoys watching sports on television.
Tragash says his way of fathering is different from his dad's. He describes his father's view as, "I might not always be right, but I'm never wrong." Tragash, 48, says he favors more discussion. "I think I'm right, but I'm willing to listen."
He also realizes his sons are growing up and their lives are in transition. They'll be sons much longer than they'll be children. So he and Jake will attend the weekend, while Eli will be busy wrestling.
"It sounded real exciting," Jake Tragash said was his reaction when his father first pitched the weekend retreat idea.
Asked about a lesson he'd picked up from his father, Jake Tragash said it would be, "Keep my word, if I ever give it to anyone." And a lesson he taught his father?
"That's pretty tough," he said. "I'm sure there is, but I can't think of it, he's a pretty smart guy."
Jim Seale, 57, says he and son Ian, 15, have shared many experiences, including scouts and tae kwon do. He sees the retreat as something they can share now and a memory they'll be able to share years later. He was encouraged to sign up from his experience at a retreat for men.
"You learn a lot about yourself by listening to other people's experiences," Seale said.
While the event will be held at a church camp, Diamond says it's not a religious retreat. Neither is it an attempt to duplicate the experience of Indian Guides or Boy Scouts, and it won't involve competitive games or athletics.
Diamond says for sons it can be an opportunity to change the relationship they have with their fathers and to experience what it means to grow up to be a man. For the fathers, it's a chance to look at what they got or didn't get from their own father and to tackle the questions: What kind of father do I want to be for my son? What kind of father am I now?
"I'd hope that old fathers and sons realize how much they have to give to each other," Diamond said.
Gary Kirkland can be reached at 338-3104 or email@example.com
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