Want to see what a Coming of Age looks like in real time? Well, here it is:
We celebrated my son Gideon's Coming of Age last weekend. And guys, can I just say again, how much we LOVE these?! It was a huge success, but it was a little different than others we've done before, so I wanted to share what worked for us and what we didn't like as much. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, be sure to read this post, first!)
First, we sent out the invitation out about 3 weeks before. I wish we would have given people a little more notice, though. I made this invitation up on Canva.com. They let you design it for free and then I just printed it out inexpensively as a picture at a local store. I am please with how it turned out. (The white parts were personal info. I blocked out.)
Additionally, we sent a letter that explained why we did this Coming of Age ritual in our family and why we felt it was important. We also explained the agenda of the day, what to expect and what the weather would be like. If people were traveling from far away, we also included what arrangements we had made for lodging.
My son LOVES rock climbing, and since that has so many symbolic lessons that you can go with, we decided that would be his theme. I felt that this quote really summed up what I wanted for him:
For Christmas this year, we decided to get outdoor "toys" to help us be more active. So thankfully, between that and what other family members had, we had plenty of fun stuff for the guys to do. There is also a great rock wall with a lot of open space around it, about 15 minutes from our house, so that seemed like the perfect venue. We planned a full day of rock climbing, rappelling, paintball and other fun stuff.
Lesson learned #1: Being close by may or may not be a good idea. For my older son, the guys went an hour and a half away. That had it's own pros and cons. But everyone stayed there the entire time. This time, being so close, those who lived nearby tended to come and go as they needed to- which we totally understood, but it also detracted from the bonding and ambiance we wanted to create.
Also, Gideon has a few cousins his age, which is awesome! We love that they are so close to each other. When uncles who lived far away and were planning on coming asked if they could bring their sons, we of course said "yes".
Lesson Learned #2: This is a "how-to-become-a-man" event. When the cousins got together, it was a different experience than when it was just my older son with all of the adults. They got silly sometimes and it detracted from the bonding time with the other men. Some of them are also a bit younger than my son, so they did not really appreciate the ceremony that night. So in the end, my husband was not a fan of having the cousins there for this reason, even though he dearly loves them and enjoys them in other situations. Gideon on the other hand, LOVED having them there. So I think it just depends on what your goal is for the event.
We planned awesome food and a ton of snacks. This time, we again asked our good friend Norman (who is also Gideon's scout master) to take care of all the food. He is a fantastic outdoor cook and it really took a load off of my husband as he tried to be a good host. DO THIS!
I love pictures of these events- especially since I don't attend! I want to see what it was like! For my older son, my husband forgot, and didn't take very many pictures. And then his phone deleted them.
Yes. Yes, it did.
I felt so bad for my son, and I felt cheated. This time, I reminded my husband A. LOT. to take pictures. He did his best, but...
Lesson Learned: Ask someone in the party to be the official photographer--or ask everyone! My husband was so busy running everything that he did the best he could, but afterwards I wish we had better shots and more of them.
Lastly, at the end of the day, the guys started a bonfire. They ate dinner and then when it was dark, they gave their best advice about how to be a good and true man, and read letters from those who could not make it. (I made a binder in advance with letters, great quotes and other good stuff in it.) When we asked Gideon what his favorite part of the day was, he said that this was it. Such amazing advice and love!
Lesson learned: We asked EVERYONE to write a letter whether they were planning on attending or not, so that Gideon could read and take advantage of their advice years from now and not have to rely on memory. We must not have communicated this very well, because few of the attending men did this. I just feel sad that their wonderful words may be lost to memory. Communicate this to your loved ones better than I did!
My husband and I decided to give a symbolic and practical gift. We decided to have my husband present Gideon with a Grigri. It is a rock climbing device that will not only keep him safe, but it also has a spiritual parallel that we shared with him.
While the guys were all partying it up, the women and cousins hung out at my sister-in-law's mini-ranch. I actually had another event I had to be at with my daughter (it got rescheduled for the same day, which was a HUGE pain), so you can bet I'm taking my sister-in-law to go get a pedicure. I owe her big time! They rode horses, played, ate pizza and watched movies. It was awesome. If entire families are planning on coming, I would definitely have a plan for those who won't be attending the actual event.
At the end, when it was all over, we gave "Thank You" goodie bags to all the men who participated in any way. We filled it with goodies, a carabiner, the quote that was our theme, and an uplifting movie about mountain climbing.
When I asked Gideon what he thought of it, he said, "I thought it was awesome. Especially with all of my uncles and cousins. I learned a lot about becoming a man, but that's not all. It's also about family. I loved the ending ceremony. My grandpa said, 'We've all grown up like you are doing, but we have a lot of different perspectives and that is going to be your biggest benefit.' It's really true, because they all gave such different and unique advice, it's awesome. And I'm really glad I can go through my binder because it's just awesome."
Having great role models for our children is SUCH a blessing. Whether they are family or not, these relationships will be a huge benefit to our children for the rest of their lives. We are so very grateful for them, the lives that they model and the effort they take to help our children.
**If you'd like a step-by-step guide to help you create an amazing, personalized experience like this for YOUR child, check out The Coming of Age Celebration Guidebook. The feedback I've gotten from it has been amazing:
"This was the best day of my life...The collective beauty and wisdom was just so overwhelming. Our young people are worth so much and I just hope they know it. Thanks to everyone who helped, who wrote letters, who came, and those who couldn't make it, you were missed. Thanks so much for the priceless idea, you've made a difference!" -Emilie N.
"Jen...this is amazing. Just got the Coming of Age book- this is really fantastic. Side note- you should be charging WAY more for this...so so so impressed. Seriously so grateful for this." -Danielle T.
Learn more here.
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