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Authors cause 'Ripple'

Todd Freiwald of Fort Valley and his three sons
Todd Freiwald of Fort Valley and his three sons, from left, Scott, 12, Ryan, 14, and Jake, 15, get back to nature. Friewald co-wrote the book "The Ripple Effect: A Father's Guide to Training his Son to Survive in the Wild and in the World." (Buy photo)

Fathers write book for sons about life, responsibility

By Sally Voth - svoth@nvdaily.com

As a long-time law-enforcement officer, Todd Freiwald has come across a lot of bad guys. That made him worry for his three sons.

His friend, Shawn McQuaid, also a law-enforcement officer, shared his concerns.

It has culminated in the two writing a book, "The Ripple Effect," recently published by Evergreen Press. Woodstock artist Holly Cooley donated the illustrations, Freiwald said.

"We started seeing this trend of younger and younger males really behaving badly," Freiwald said. "We had come to the conclusion that the reason that we were having a lot of these problems with the young men today is that nobody is really taking the time to define for them what God expects from a man.

A former Marine and Virginia Military Institute graduate, Freiwald likes the idea of training. "Shawn's a big outdoors guy, like me."

The friends kicked around some ideas.

"Eventually, it kind of settled down to a very basic and biblical principle, and that's that it's a father's responsibility for the training and education of his son," said Freiwald, who lives in Fort Valley.

The pair created The Father-Son Ministry, run out of Shenandoah Community Fellowship Church in Woodstock.

"What we tried to do was take the four basics of wilderness survival -- food, water, fire and shelter," and apply them to the four pillars of Christian living -- the word of God, prayer, a servant heart and Christian fellowship -- according to Freiwald, 44. "There's something very biblically profound about the wilderness. It's the perfect laboratory for life."

Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan before beginning his ministry, and the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, he said. Fathers and sons aren't able to communicate in front of the TV or a video game, he said.

Freiwald and his wife, Wendy, have three sons: -- Jake, 15, Ryan, 14, and Scott, 12 -- and a daughter, 10-year-old Megan. McQuaid and his wife, Laura, who live in Frederick County, have a 10-year-old son named Cole, and a daughter, Erin, who is 7.

Jake has gone through a rite of passage designed by his father and described in the final chapter of the book. Rather than the forest hike Jake was expecting, Freiwald had prepared a 50-pound pack that his son would carry as he spent the night outdoors in below-freezing temperatures.

He told his son to stay on the path and Jake would know his journey was complete when he saw him again. That wouldn't be until the next morning. Along the path, Jake was met by three men, friends of his father, who would talk to him about what God expects from a man and share their favorite Bible verse with him. Three more men -- Jake's uncle, grandfather and father -- wrote him letters to read on his adventure.

When he saw his dad the next morning, Jake told him he relied on his faith and the letters he'd received. Since then, Ryan has gone through the rite of passage. Freiwald has noticed a "huge" change in them.

"My ability to communicate to them on a very personal and adult level kind of just expanded infinitely," he said.

McQuaid said each child is different, so the rites of passage can be tailored to fit each one. A small one for Cole involved burning his baby blanket at 5 and being told he was now his father's "big boy."

"He does his best at everything," McQuaid said of his son. "He tries to please, but more importantly, he has a compassionate heart. He sees the needs of others, especially those that are weaker or younger.

"We chose a few simple principles that most boys enjoy and that [Freiwald] and I enjoy -- being out in the woods."

But fathers can choose the appropriate settings for their own sons, he said.

Freiwald said the lessons offered in the book are simple.

"The book was designed so that any father from any denomination can use the book," he said.

Anyone with a backyard or access to a park can do most of the exercises, Freiwald said.

"With all the people I've arrested and all the interviews that I've done, I've never met one defendant who wanted their kid to be a drug addict, who wanted their kid to be abusive to themselves or their spouses or their children, who wanted their kid to be homeless, who wanted their kid to be sitting in their shoes with handcuffs behind a table," Freiwald said.

All the proceeds from the book will go to various Christian ministries, Freiwald said.

It is available for $10.99 at Guiding Light Christian Books & Gifts and online. Freiwald and McQuaid will be signing copies of the book 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the Guiding Light store, 474 N. Main St. Woodstock.


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