“Now Drop and Give Me Twenty!”

Why lie?  I’ve got writer’s block. Bad. It’s been over a week since our local Dads’ Bucket List crew took our merry caravan to Toccoa so we could attempt to re-enact the training runs of Easy Company that were portrayed in the HBO series “Band of Brothers”.  

"Easy Company" soldiers they were not, but they gave it a shot.

“Easy Company” soldiers they were not, but they gave it a shot.

I have so much regard for the sacrifices that these men and other veterans made that I know I will fall short to try to even begin to capture them in words.   

We had a misty, drizzly day that actually provided some realism into the types of conditions that the troops dealt with as they trained.  Upon our arrival, we took time to walk around a small memorial that paid tribute to the thousands of paratroopers that trained at Camp Toccoa before heading to fight in foreign lands.  

The casualty counts listed on the granite monuments were a sober reminder of the sacrifices they made.

Nearing the top of Mt. Currahee

Nearing the top of Mt. Currahee

We made our way up Currahee Mountain by car as we knew that the 3 mile trek to the top in those conditions probably would have led to a couple of our young charges going AWOL.  As we got within a mile of the summit, we parked our cars so we could hike to the top. 

The kids tried to see if they could run it, but their efforts were short-lived and they ended up walking most of the way.  The dads stayed back so we could talk details about an upcoming event.  

At the top, we were greeted by some large communications towers but couldn’t seem to find any signs or memorials to the military training that took place there.  

A small red, white and blue tribute to the soldiers that trained on the mountain

A small red, white and blue tribute to the soldiers that trained on the mountain

After searching for a while, we stumbled upon a small red, white and blue faux flower arrangement that had obviously been left there by another historical admirer.  We took pictures and then made our way back down so we could enjoy our picnic lunch.

 I read a comment on Twitter recently where a guy said he felt like he’d done so little with his life after watching a documentary about the life of sportscaster Marty Glickman.  

Every time I read a book about our military or watch a movie that tries to capture their honor and heroism, I find myself feeling the same way.   

Sacrifices that I feel, yet can’t seem to figure out how to capture in mere words.  To all our veterans, I simply leave you with two heartfelt ones.  Thank you!   

Go. See. Be. Do.

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“I’m on the ‘No-Call List’. Who gave you this number?”

Who’s the funniest person you remember while you were growing up? I could list a few candidates, but there was a guy named Chuck Brimmage that I’d probably put at the top.

"Don't kid yourself, Judge. You're a tremendous slouch"

“Don’t kid yourself, Judge. You’re a tremendous slouch”

I spent 6 years between junior high and into college caddying at Cherry Hills Country Club outside Denver. Chuck was one of those guys that never had to try to get a laugh. The guy had loads of charisma and a quirky take on things.

For example, most of us would jockey for the best tipping members and opt to carry two bags so we could maximize our pay. Not Chuck. Although more than capable of carrying two bags, he’d think about things like the weather or the personality of the golfer.

So on a warm day, he’d say to the Caddymaster “Y’all are crazy. Just give me one bag today. It’s too damn hot to be carrying two.”

Or there was an older member, Chet Latcham, that Chuck got on with particularly well whom he liked to call “Cheddar”…to his face.  “Give me Cheddar. I feel like walking and talking today.”

Chuck had personality in spades. I’ll bet he’s making co-workers laugh to this day.

I recently heard a woman named Becky Springer speak. What an inspiration. Nearly six years ago she contracted a virus that almost killed her and caused her to lose parts of all four limbs. I’m happy to report she’s doing well as she and her husband raise three daughters.

Making and maintaining relationships is one of the primary goals of Dads' Bucket List

Making and maintaining relationships is one of the primary goals of Dads’ Bucket List

She made reference in her speech (4:00 mark of this video) about connecting with old friends that you haven’t talked to in over 5 years. It was one of the many things she said that hit home with me.

We’ve probably all got several names we could put on that old list of friends that needs to have the dust knocked off.

Making and maintaining connections with friends is one of the reasons we started Dads’ Bucket List. We wanted to give ourselves a reason to get together while doing something unique and fun with our kids on a regular basis. 

Hopefully, as we do these larger events there will be more old and new friends that get into the mix.

Maybe I should reconnect with an old teammate from 1977 (I'm Top R - 6th from Left)

Maybe I should reconnect with an old teammate from 1977 (I’m Top R – 6th from Left)

So, as I write this I’ve decided to challenge myself.  I plan to reach out to one of those friends that I haven’t spoken to in over five years. I’m not talking about a two sentence greeting on Facebook, but an actual conversation. 

So, what do you say? You up for the same challenge?

Go. See. Be. Do. 

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“I swear, I wasn’t thinking that!”

The inaugural experience of the Dads' Bucket List - summit a mountain

The inaugural experience of the Dads’ Bucket List – summit a mountain

When I graduated from SMU in 1992 economists said it was the worst year on record for college graduates to find jobs.  What can I say, I’ve got impeccable timing.

Fortunately, not too long after school was over I was able to land a job with American Express. It led to my move to Atlanta where I’ve lived since.

During my first year in the job, I attended a national meeting where the President of our division gave a presentation where he said in part, “We become what we think about most of the time.”

Contrary to popular belief about what young males think about every 7 seconds, I would not be pursuing a career path similar to Larry Flynt.

"We become what we think about most of the time"

“We become what we think about most of the time”

But that line always stuck with me. “We become what we think about most of the time.”

About 13 years ago I decided to write a life to-do list. You know, a “Bucket List”. I spent some time with it, updated it, refined it. Then put it away and forgot about it.

I pulled that list out not too long ago and noticed a common theme. Many of the things I wanted to do I hoped to do with my son one day.

Some were grand, like trips to see great cities of the world.

Others were simple, like coaching his youth team or curling up on the couch to watch the Michigan State Spartans (I’ll explain my love affair with them another time).

One item that stood out (no, not the still unchecked one that says “have a beer with John Elway, Wayne Gretzky or Coach Izzo“) was “Leave a legacy”.

The Dads’ Bucket List concept has received a lot of positive, unsolicited feedback. People seem to understand the idea and want to either get themselves or their spouses and kids involved.

After a lot of careful thought and planning, an idea for taking the Dads’ Bucket List from a local group into something that has the potential to engage a lot more fathers and their children has taken root.

Engaging Dads and their Kids as we learn lessons along the way

Engaging Dads and their Kids as we learn lessons along the way

We’re going to take on the challenge of planning unique, large scale events for Dads and their kids to experience with the first taking place in early 2014.

These events will be beyond the ordinary outings and worthy of checking off people’s respective Bucket Lists.  You know, the types of things that men may think about doing, but would never plan for themselves (hey, we’re not strong planners. What? Just being honest).

Over the years, I’ve heard business and other thought leaders say, if you do what you’re passionate about the fruits of your labor will follow. We shall see.

So, getting back to my life to-do list or thinking about that line from the Amex exec, being a Dad and engaging other Dads is what I think about most of the time.

Go. See. Be. Do.

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“Really! The Dog Ate My Homework”

So, the words on this blog have always come from a father’s point of view about the experiences of the Dads’ Bucket List.  Below is a writing assignment submitted by a 2nd grader that’s part of our crew.

Sounds like we’re hitting the right chords with our kids (I particularly like his teacher’s comment in the upper right corner).

Time to start rolling out the Dads’ Bucket List to the masses.  Stay tuned for more details about our plans in the coming weeks…

Avery Watts writing assignment on DBL


Remember to check us out on Facebook and “Like” us while you’re there (https://www.facebook.com/DadsBucketList)

Go. See. Be. Do.


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A Helpful Video on How to Let Your Kids Get Lost in the Woods

A short video for your viewing pleasure.


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“When a man plans, a woman laughs”


One October afternoon during my junior year at SMU, my mom called to ask how I’d feel about studying in France the following semester. Honestly, I’d never considered it.

Other than going to camp in Alberta when I was eleven and a crazy day trip with some college buddies into Mexico, I hadn’t spent time anywhere outside the U.S.  So going to Paris, France was a little bit outside my comfort zone.  But I was game for the experience.

Once I arrived, I took in all things Parisian – transit strikes, body odor and sidewalks littered avec merde de chien. All kidding aside, I experienced four of the best months of my life. In fact, my time there led to a passion for travel, getting my first job, and most importantly to meeting my wife.

A couple of budding Orienteers

A couple of budding Orienteers

And so, it’s with that background about trying new experiences that the latest outing of the Dads’ Bucket List would be taking on something none of us had ever done before – Orienteering.  It’s best described as using a map and compass to keep from getting lost in the woods. Honestly, I’m not even sure if we men are allowed to use maps (“I’m not going to pull over, Honey. It’s got to be around here somewhere.”).

An avid, experienced Orienteer would better describe it as using these aforementioned tools to see how quickly you’re able to navigate an outdoor course made up of a series of checkpoints. How hard can that be? We’d find out.

We met at my place just after breakfast to caravan to Ft. Yargo State Park. As we gathered in my driveway, we set off doing what middle-age dads do – throwing down alley oops (on an 8 ft. rim) and polling each other on who stayed up past 9:00 the night before (for the record, I only made it to 8:45 – 3 sports events, 2 birthday parties and a reckoning on the treadmill sealed my fate).

Some pre-game planning before we hit the course

Some pre-game planning before we hit the course

Once we arrived and checked in we got some instructions about how to read a map and administer snake bite anti-venom. Then it was time to clock-in and get out on the course.

We planned to space our start times a few minutes apart so we weren’t lumbering through the forest looking like a group of 25 misfits. We figured we’d look more official if we set out in smaller groups of only 2 or 3 misfits.

Once me and my two troops were on the course, we realized that finding these orange and white checkpoints might be a tad more challenging than we’d anticipated. “Dad, I think I see it” was usually followed by “no, that’s a piece of trash. Wait. Why’s it moving? Toward us? and what’s that smell?”

Hitting the checkpoints in stride

“Who cares if you’re standing in poison ivy. Just make sure we don’t miss the checkpoint.”

We got the hang of it though and other than having to consent to a piggyback for my little man, Bo, my budding Orienteers did a great job of navigating the course.  We finished in just under an hour and then waited for nearly two days for the rest of our posse to find their way back.

Upon completion, we all exchanged hand shakes and high-fives on jobs well done. That led to lunch at the picnic area where we recounted our experiences and the proverbial questions about what’s next for our crew.

As I drove my boys to school today, I asked what they thought of Orienteering and my oldest, Blake, responded by saying “It was the best, Dad”.  Guess I don’t need to ask myself if we’re better for having tried it.

It's always a good time for a picnic with the Dads' Bucket List

It’s always a good time for a picnic with the Dads’ Bucket List

As I sat down to write this recap, that experience of my time in Paris seemed to parallel the Orienteering outing. I didn’t know what to expect from studying abroad just like none of us knew exactly what it would be like to go Orienteering.

We walked away with the value of understanding.  This was put best by the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius who wrote: 

I hear – I forget
I see – I remember
I do – I understand

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Go. See. Be. Do.

“When a man plans, a woman laughs.”
― David WongJohn Dies at the End

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And the Oscar goes to…

Labor Day is when we put a wrap on summer.  And rather than recap in words how the summer was for the Dads’ Bucket List crew, these short (30 second) videos help tell the story.

Now, here’s where you come in to the picture (film reference). At the end, take our poll to let us know which you liked best. And while you’re here go ahead and “Like” us on Facebook as well (that friendly little button is right there on the right side of this page).

Entry #1: Ziplining/Canopy Tour

Entry #2: Parade

Entry #3: Operation Pear Drop

Entry #4: Tubing

Now on to the voting booth:

Go. See. Be. Do.

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