by Scott Ptak
What do you get when you gather together 23 men ranging from 19 years old to 69 years old, of all races and backgrounds, who have taken 4 days away from family and work, and traveled to New Hampshire from 8 different states, all to better hear the voice of God and to fully become the men God has created them to be? You get a magnificent recipe for transformation, hope, renewal, discovery, and an opportunity to get your masculine heart back.
From September 29 – October 2, 2022, Wildmen Vermont and Wild at Heart Boston sponsored a Wild at Heart BASIC Boot Camp at Pilgrim Pines Campground in Swanzey, New Hampshire. Located in a mountainous and lake-filled region of New Hampshire, Swanzey is a quaint New England town with covered bridges, ivy-covered buildings from the 18th century, and lazy rivers that meander through the Fall foliage.
Some of the attendees had never been to a Wild at Heart BASIC Boot Camp and were new to the message God placed upon the heart of John Eldredge as he wrote Wild at Heart in 2001. Others of the group had been living in this teaching for quite some time. The beauty of this is that each Boot Camp is different as the Holy Spirit meets us where we are, and new truths are discovered.
It took courage to come. Courage to take 4-days away from your family, ask for time off work, pay the camp fee to be there, get in a car and drive for hours – not knowing a single sole who will be on the other end. Courage to walk into a meeting room, and later a bunk house, with total strangers. Courage to be willing to listen to the voice of God as you deal with some uncomfortable truths and issues, and courage to open up and be “real” with the other guys as God provided the opportunity to spend time together.
The 3.5-day journey was filled with genuine and transparent fellowship as the men began to get to know and trust each other. It was a safe space to process all that God was doing in the hearts of these men as the teachings of John Eldredge, Morgan Snyder, Bart Hansen, and others were brilliantly unpacked through the various sessions. Each of the sessions builds upon the other like a crescendo in a masterful piece of classical music. Men’s hearts were being transformed – the evidence was clearly seen in the faces of each man as his countenance changed before our eyes. Men were getting their masculine hearts back.
That is not to say it was always easy, especially when there was clearly a spiritual battle going on for the hearts of these men. The enemy tried to de-rail, in a variety of ways, what God was doing, but the men fought back valiantly. Anything good that happens doesn’t generally happen without a fight. Thank God for the work of the prayer Intercessors, both on-site and across the United States, as they fought fiercely for the hearts of the men.
Time alone with God is a critical component of a Wild at Heart BASIC Boot Camp and there were wonderful opportunities provided for the men to spend hours each day drawing close to the Father as they enjoyed a hike, took out a kayak, or just sat and soaked in and processed what was being done in their hearts.
As the time together drew to a close, this group once filled with strangers had become a Band of Brothers. They had shared a unique and marvelous journey together and will forever be joined by this experience. Goodbyes were shared through hugs and firm handshakes, often with a lump in your throat as you wonder when God may allow your paths to cross again. Friendships can form quickly on the battlefield, and you had been privileged to see God move in the hearts of these men. Each man will take something different from the time here – some have had major breakthroughs, others are still processing all that God has for them, and still others are learning to maneuver life with a heart that has been set free. Transformation will continue to come.
We believe God is leading us next October to have another life-changing time with men from New England and beyond. It’s not too early to begin asking the Father what your role in that may be.