It all began when my friend of 25+ years Luke, called me to ask if my son Ethan (6), and I would be interested in joining him and his son Chase (8), at their cottage in Parry Sound for a “boys only weekend”.

I responded swiftly with “Absolutely”, and we pulled up our family calendars to lock-in our dates. We are no different from the majority of other families who lead busy lives, and it has become increasingly difficult to spend time with old friends. Busy or not, this boys weekend was definitely going to happen, and we were all thrilled.

Fast forward 2 months to August. I’ve checked my packing list twice and had my wife review it just to be sure I haven’t missed anything. Because Luke and I are meeting at his remote cottage with two small children for four days, we’d both rather be over prepared. With my list approved by mom and the car all packed, one last goodbye and we can now blow this popsicle stand ……wait, “Do you have to go to the bathroom?”  Our drive is about 3.5 hours, which for a small child feels like a lifetime. In order to avoid the dreaded “are we there yet?”, I was prepared with toys, snacks, and being well versed in road trip games like punch buggy and “I spy”.

Our road trip was filled with terrible singing, a lot of laughs and chatter of the various activities we planned to do while at the cottage.

We arrived without incident and Luke and his son Chase arrived shortly after us. We decided that it would be best to get settled quickly as it was well past bedtime for the little guys, who had both fallen asleep in the car. We made their beds and with teeth brushed, all tucked in and cozy, “Goodnight boys, get a good sleep”.

Luke and I decided to build a campfire and catch-up over a beer or two. Nothing beats relaxing by the fire-pit with an old friend and taking a trip down memory lane through sharing stories of our younger years. The minutes easily turned into hours. When the discussion turned to what time we could expect our kids to rise, we realized we had better get to bed.

With the sun shining and the birds chirping, the cottage started to come to life.

The boys hadn’t seen each other in quite some time and they both were a little too young to remember. Luke and I introduced the boys to each other again and mentioned a couple of topics that we knew were of common interest – fishing and video games. There were no awkward moments as they hit it off right away, chatting while their Dads made breakfast. With our bellies full, we packed lunch and some drinks, our fishing gear, paddles and life-jackets, and headed down to the dock to launch our canoes.

Luke and I have fished this small lake hundreds of times over and we know it like the back of our hands.

We were excited to get out on the water and seek out the best fishing spots for today’s target species – Largemouth Bass. It was a beautiful morning; a little chill in the air, winds were non-existent, the lake was a sheet of glass with a little mist rising. A perfect morning to fish some top-water baits with the hopes that our little guys would get to experience the thrill of having a 5-pound bass blow up on their baits. Within a few minutes of paddling we had arrived at our first “secret” fishing spot and the boys took their first few casts. Chase was the first with a fish on and his excitement brought smiles to all our faces. Unfortunately, his “huge” fish would become a tale of the one that got away. We remained at this spot for quite some time as the boys hooked into fish after fish. They had a blast and kept their dads busy with helping release their catches, untangling their crossed lines, and steadying our canoes 😉.

Eventually the action slowed, and the boys were ready to move on. Ethan and Chase spotted a large flat piece of granite along the shoreline on the far side of the lake and they wanted to go discover the area. Luke and I were ready to stretch our legs and it was getting pretty close to lunchtime. We got busy gathering wood to make a fire so we could roast some wieners for lunch.

The boys, still thrilled with their morning catches, wanted to keep fishing while the dads made lunch and they continued to put on a bass fishing clinic for us.

With lunch ready it was time to sit by the fire to eat and share our fishing tales so far. The sun was high in the sky and it was getting too hot for us to continue much longer in the canoes. The boys hashed out a plan to shove off and head back to the cottage for an afternoon of swimming and hanging out. The next few days saw us doing much of the same; lots of paddling, fishing, swimming and story telling. We didn’t land many big fish that weekend, but we certainly came home with many tales of the ones that got away to share with our families. Including the trophy northern pike that hit my sons lure right at the side of our canoe. It startled us both and it was a quick battle for Ethan’s tired little arms before it broke free, but it’s something we’ll both remember and talk about for the rest of our lives.

Our evenings were ordinary cottage nights of campfires, music, s’mores, banana boats, and too many roasted wieners.

We were fortunate enough to have clear skies for the Perseid meteor shower and we decided to take full advantage by letting the boys stay up late. Jammies on, we took a few blankets down to the dock to lay out and take in the show. Our experience was nothing short of spectacular. Meteor after meteor filled the sky. The ooo’s and the ahhh’s eventually gave way to listening to the loons calling out from across the lake. Not to be out done, a pair of juvenile Barred owls called from deep in the woods. The boys perked up and got nervous hearing those screeches, and I couldn’t blame them. If you’ve ever heard the menacing screech of juvenile Barred owls, you’d understand. Like the past couple nights, time had slipped away and Ethan and Chase had fallen asleep under the stars. Luke and I found out that our boys aren’t so little anymore as we struggled to heave them up into our arms for the walk back to the cottage as we said goodnight for the last time on our boys weekend.

With a flick of the final light switch, it was total darkness. The kind of darkness where you can’t see your own hand right before your face. The only exception to the silence was the call of the loons and once or twice, a train whistle that could be faintly heard from miles away.

The next morning brought an unexpected, but much welcomed, sleep-in. Any parent will tell you that this a rare occurrence. Ethan and Chase started to stir at 8:00 am but were in no rush to get out of their warm beds. We all laid in our beds chatting back and forth from opposite ends of the cottage. We shared what experiences we enjoyed the most, and told kid friendly jokes. Boys being boys, even the Dads had a good laugh at a fart that no one wanted to own up to. Eventually we got up for breakfast and began to tidy and pack for the long trip home. A bitter-sweet moment for us all, but we made a pact that this would be the 1st Annual Boys weekend.Little do our boys know, Luke and I have already began planning a much bigger adventure for us when Chase and Ethan get a little bit older. Don’t tell their mothers just yet, but we intend to work our way up to a fly-in adventure somewhere in Northern Ontario.

I hope we’re successful in taking the time together every year, but I’ll always think fondly of this weekend. Time at the cottage and out on the lake. Time away from our busy lives. Time to disconnect from cell phones and electronic devices. Time with family. Time with old friends. Time with new friends. This was a surely a weekend worth living, and certainly one to remember.