The third week of June always presents a unique challenge as we strive to celebrate Toby’s trifecta of holidays in the grand way he deserves. During that week he is celebrated for being a father, a husband, and a son, with Father’s Day, our anniversary and his birthday landing within days of each other on the calendar. We work hard to celebrate each of those special days fully and individually. This year I was looking for something extra special for his Father’s Day gift. It has been a bummer of a year, with a lot of unforeseen changes and a lot of challenging detours. Trips have been canceled, kids have launched, and some of those that are still at home have put us through the ringer. I knew this Father’s Day was going to be extra challenging for Toby without Molly and Grace at home to temper the tone in our home with their sunshine. It has been a hard, hard few months at home. I knew that Toby was not going to receive the show of love, gratitude and appreciation he deserves as a father, so I felt compelled to come up with something extra special. With Rusty’s help we pulled off an amazing Father’s Day surprise for a man that deserves the world!
One of Toby’s favorite hobbies is metal detecting. It is a hobby he took up as a kid with his father. Eight years ago he joined the Beaver County Metal Detecting Club and since then has enjoyed his monthly meetings and frequent hunts with friends that share a common passion. For Toby, this hobby combines his love for treasure hunting with coin collecting.
As I was searching for local hunts that could serve as his Father’s Day gift from the kids and I, I stumbled across Treasure Week. This week-long hunt was being held an hour away at Fox Den Campground in New Stanton. As soon as I stumbled across the registration form online, I knew it would be a perfect gift for Toby. Each day offered 3- 4 seeded hunts with a different theme each day. In between hunts there were opportunities to socialize, activities for the kids, and family fun each evening.
We decided to secretly register Toby and then turn that week of camping into our summer vacation. I booked a campsite at the campground where the hunt was being held and on Father’s Day we surprised him with his gift.
Last Friday we packed up the car and headed to the hunt. Braden declined to join the family on our camping trip and left to spend another week at his Pap’s house, so it was just Tyler and Rusty with us for the week.
We arrived and began setting up camp. We finished getting the tent set up and the car unloaded, just before the first thunderstorm of the weekend hit.
The downpour outside altered our dinner plans. Our foil packet dinners were postponed for the following night as we enjoyed a meal of Sheetz-to-Go while playing board games in the relative comfort of the tent.
The following day was the start of Treasure Week. Toby received a schedule for the week, with the themes of each day’s hunts laid out. The only day that had to be switched up was “Canada Day” on day one, as our coin hunters from the north continue to remain trapped behind a border that is closed.
The hunts were offered each day at 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00, with some specialty hunts thrown in between.
There were about 50 participants at Treasure Week, with ages ranging from teens to 80+. Most, however were retirees. Toby was a youngin’ in this crowd. Because of the median age of participants, most remained diligent in the use of masks and social distancing, making this a fun (and safe) week of vacationing.
Luckily, metal detecting is a pastime that lends itself well to social distancing…
As perfectly expressed by this t-shirt we bought Toby:
After each hunt Toby would lay out his treasure finds and count up his “booty.” Silver dimes are one of the most common finds in seeded hunts, and one of the coins Toby enjoys collecting most, as each pre-1965 dime has a current worth of $1.50.
Tuesday’s theme was the Civil War. These hunts were run by the relic hunters from Virginia and Texas who focus their efforts on historic relics rather than coins. For the Civil War relic hunt, the ground was seeded with historic relics instead of silver. This resulted in an especially cool hunting experience for those like Toby who typically hunt coins. Toby walked away from that hunt with 19 Civil War bullets, one uniform button and a J hook.
Treasure week also offered free hunts for amateurs, kids and teens. These hunts were geared toward beginners. Tyler didn’t want to participate, but Rusty chose to sign up for the amateur hunt.
Each amateur hunter was allowed a “coach” on the field to help them. Toby was Rusty’s treasure hunting coach.
He had great success. He found a handful of coins and some tokens, which won him a collection bag, a shovel, and a coin pricing book.
In between hunts we kept busy with the fun the campground offered.
Tyler spent most of his time at the lake that sat across the road from our tent. He spent hours and hours fishing for bluegills and bass.
In the hot afternoons we would head over to the pool to cool off. The week offered high temperatures in the 90’s, making the campground pool a lifesaver!
And, as is always the case when camping, a large portion of my day was spent preparing, serving and cleaning up meals cooked outside.
In the evenings after dinner we would head over to the large pavilion that served as home base for Treasure Week. There we would enjoy the family activities scheduled for each evening. Some of the activities offered included bingo, a Civil War relic presentation, a Chinese auction and A Night at the Races, with the proceeds of these events going to fund future hunts.
Our nights would end with time spent around the fire as everyone enjoyed one last s’more or hobo pie before heading to bed.
It was a good week away. It was healing to get away from the house and challenges of everyday life, and just escaping into nature for a bit. Toby had a wonderful week doing what he loves: digging in the dirt for dimes, and we enjoyed watching him have fun.
After a week of hunts Toby had quite the impressive haul of coins and prizes:
This week away was a small token of the love and appreciation I feel for this giant among men. His countenance is humble and he asks for so little, but he is one who gives and gives some more. On a daily basis he sacrifices his own wants and own dreams to make life better for everyone he loves. He has taken on challenges others shy away from, for the sake of bettering the lives of those hurt by the cruelty and lack of care by men who don’t deserve the title of “father.” He forgives and forgives again the hurtful choices made by the hurt people in his life, knowing that the only way to break the cycle of abuse is to offer an example of unconditional love in the face of behaviors intended to test the love that is offered.
If anyone deserves to be celebrated as a father, it is Toby. In his quiet, unassuming, selfless way he is showing our sons what a real man looks like, and how a real father behaves.
It isn’t a lesson fully appreciated by all his kiddos at this point in their lives, but he continues to plug away, doing right, even when his efforts seem to be in vain.
As I watch Toby hunt a field for treasure, his method is strikingly similar to how he parents. It is calm, thoughtful, thorough, and patient.
While others hurry across the field, he calmly remains steady in his pace.
While others hunt those easily accessible coins just below the surface, he willingly invests time and effort seeking the treasure hidden deeper in the ground.
When the crowds start exiting the field, believing there is nothing left to find, Toby circle around once more looking for treasures missed by others.
He seeks to find the worth in what the world dismisses as trash, and patiently digs for the good stuff…the stuff that is buried deep.
He is a treasure finder, both in hobby and in life.
He has been blessed with the ability to find the intrinsic worth of a soul, even when it is buried deep beneath hurt, anger, trauma, and testing.
He doesn’t walk off the field when the hunt seems fruitless.
Never, ever giving up.