Camp Barakel Men’s Retreat 2009

This was another great year at the Barakel’s men retreat. After the relaxing day of fishing, I checked in and discovered my group would be staying in one of the brand new lodges. We headed over, unpacked, and settled in.


Out speaker for the weekend was Tom Harmon, you can check out his web site here. Friday night we found out the Tom would be preaching on the topic of prayer over the course of the weekend, and I was excited about the topic.

After breakfast the next morning, I got to take a ride on the newly installed zip-line. It was awesome.

First you gear up with some heavy duty equipment that looks like climbing gear.

Then basically, you climb to the top of a large wooden tower that is 3 or 4-stories tall.

At the top, your gear is attached to metal cable strung across a valley.


Then you count to 3 and jump off.


After the zip line we we headed back to the chapel for more teaching on prayer. Tom has recently written a new book. I purchased a copy, and he personalized my copy with his signature and a written statement in the front of the book. Tom’s preaching style is fast, full of wit, and he tends to hit a lot of different points as he examines the Word. He talked about the importance of prayer during that first chapel, gave some good quotes I jotted down:

From Charles Spurgeon: I’d rather teach 1 man to pray than 10 to preach.

Prayer is coming to God and believing he is there.

Prayer is the escape route for temptation.

After chapel, we grabbed some lunch and then stopped at the archery range before heading over to do some frisbee golf.

After an attempt at fishing on the lake (with lots of rowing in circles), we headed back to shore for some dinner. On Saturday, there is usually a special dinner and we waited while the kitchen staff put together a great meal.

I did a lot of walking up at camp. Our dorm was on the opposite side of the lake from our chapel, so I chose to walk most of the time. The buses ran past us transporting those who did not walk.

Probably my favorite chapel time for the weekend was when Tom presented us with four prayers we could pray on a daily basis:
1. Lord, teach me to pray.
2. Lord, please give me wisdom. (James 1:5)
3. Lord, please give me grace. (2 Cor 9:8)
4. Lord, keep me from evil. (John 17:15)

My favorite quote from the remaining chapel services talked about stepping out side your comfort zone and went something like this:

Do things that force you to do what you should be doing anyways.

Also one of the chapel services focused on the idea of prayer should be coupled with waiting. One of the concepts that I took away from these messages is that waiting can be equated to trusting. If you do not wait, then you are not trusting that you will get an answer.

I definitely had a lot to ponder as I walked out of the chapel Saturday night, and headed back to the dorm.

Sunday morning breakfast means sticky buns up at camp. Probably the only food better than a camp sticky bun, is the camp hot chocolate.

It was another great year at Barakel, and I am so glad I was able to go. I walk away this year with a renewed interest in improving my prayer life as well as a weekend full of memories.

October on the Au Sable

Gates Sign

The autumn season in Michigan is unbelievably beautiful, and is probably my favorite time of the year.  You can look forward to apple cider, orange leaves, chilly mornings, and even maybe some trout on the fly.

Fall Leaves

We ate breakfast in Mio at the Au Sable River Restaurant, and several of my friends headed to the golf course, while one buddy headed up to the Holy Water section of the mainstream with me. We headed to a familiar access point, where we rigged up some streamers and geared up. It was definitely chilly, but not cold enough to keep me from fishing.  I headed up stream and my buddy headed downstream.

Main Branch Fishing

After wading several access points, we were unable to move any fish.  We decided to head into Grayling for a gourmet lunch at the Taco Bell drive-through window.  We hit the Burton’s Landing picnic area to finish a few tacos and gorditas, before we stopped in at Gates Lodge to pick up some flies.  Based on some advice in the shop, and the fact that I wanted to head there anyways, we went up to the North Branch of the Au Sable.  The water looked good when we got there.

North Branch in the Fall

What was interesting, was that for the first time, I saw spawning redds up and down the stream like the one below.

Trout Redd

After no luck on a small streamer, I decided to switch over to a dry fly with a nymph dropper.  I had a BWO paired up with a copper john.  After many many casts, I finally found a brookie willing to participate.

Caught a brookie

The nymph seemed to work well, so I pulled off the dry fly, and put a bead head nymph on that I had tied up earlier this year.  My buddy got first cast into all the waters, but I saw a place that was difficult to cast into and decided to give it a shot.  Across a few logs and some thick underwater weeds, I dropped my nymph up against the side of a log, and a small brown trout decided it was time for lunch.

Brown Trout

We fished until just before the sun started to set.  My friend had one more brookie come to hand in the range of 10 inches, but was to far upstream for me to get there in time to take a picture.   So, I have visited the Au Sable system for the last three years in mid-october and this was the firrst year I got into a few fish.

My favorite picture from the trip was just as I was leaveing one of the mainstream access points, I took the shot below.  It makes me want to drive back up.

Main Branch in the Fall