Year 10 ‘Making of Men’ Camp

Last week, 35 Year 10 boys and their fathers/male mentors were at the inaugural BGS Year 10 ‘Making of Men’ camp with Arne Rubinstein. For a flavour of the four-day camp, which took place in the Byron Bay hinterland, click here.

We asked some participants for their thoughts on the camp.

Dr Ray Swann (teacher): As the sun went down on our first day, 35 men and boys walked in through the forest to the campsite for the first night together. I was struck by the great simplicity of image of the fathers and sons walking together – some talking, a little bit of nervous laughter, a rising sense of anticipation for what was to come.

Over the next few days together there were many of these moments. Seeing 32 fathers and sons sitting calmly around the campfire, seeing it dance in their eyes. Moments of understanding and recognition. Sometimes discovery. Over the four days away, we saw bravery, vulnerability, loss and love. We heard a lot of wisdom.

Since our return, we have in our ways reconnected – at sport, at parent–teacher nights, and in the classroom. And in these moments, it is clear to me that something has shifted. There was some magic in the hills of Mullumbimby.

Aleks Kulesza (father): The one thing I will remember (forever) is how much crying I did in four days! I was an emotional mess by the end. All in a good way, though.

Marty Kulesza (Year 10): I was proud of my father and the other dads about how open they were with their life experiences and the willingness to share their stories.


Peter Shepard (teacher): Standing in a circle of boys, with a fire at its centre, in silence. The eldest takes a step inward and announces: “I accept the challenge.” One by one, 15 other boys follow: “I accept the challenge.”

In front of their fathers, staff and facilitators, 16 boys were stating that they accepted the challenge that lay ahead over the next few days, but also the challenges that they will face in the years ahead as they move from boys to men. They did not know the specifics of the challenges of the coming days, nor can they know the challenges of the coming years. But they all stood tall and proud in their acceptance of whatever lies ahead.

All 16 boys successfully completed their own personal challenge during the following days. Each was transformed by the experience – and they became young men. We – the staff, facilitators and fathers – could see it, and our community at BGS will feel it in the days, weeks and years ahead.

As the father of a young boy, I could see and feel the value of this incredible camp – and I’m already looking forward to the time when I can share such an experience with my own son.

[Editor’s note]: In 2018 we invited a few of the families back to talk about the Rites of Passage program in which they took part. We have created this summary video as mentioned in the Crowther eNews of 18 October 2018.