Kenzie Morgan Photography

June is all about dads and their contributions to family life. As the founder of parenting blog Dad Fixes Everything, Atlanta-based writer Evan S. Porter celebrates fatherhood in his debut novel, “Dad Camp,” which will be published on June 11.

Parents will love “Dad Camp,” a relatable, hilarious and heartwarming story following dad John and daughter Avery. John wants to solidify his special bond with Avery before she reaches the pre-teen and teenage years. The solution? A week at a father-daughter summer camp.

Atlanta Parent spoke to Porter about his new novel and the importance of fatherhood.

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

We’d been in COVID lockdown for a year or so, and I was cooped up with my kids and waking up every day to parent all day long. My wife and I were struggling to do anything for ourselves. While I was enjoying time with my kids, it was creating a lack of self-identity, so I was grappling with these conflicting ideas. I decided to work on a creative project that would be just for me, and exploring those ideas became “Dad Camp.”

Q: How much of the book is inspired by your life?

The themes and ideas were drawn from my real life. I’ve not been to a camp like that, but I had a summer camp experience as a kid. I went to the parents’ weekend there once with my dad. Avery is my oldest daughter’s middle name, and she plays soccer, so we are part of the youth sports culture. Those were the starting points for me and my inspiration, and they took shape as they do when you’re writing in fiction.

Q: How are writing blog posts for Dad Fixes Everything and writing a novel different?

It’s very different, and that difference is what drew me to writing fiction and something more creative. The blog is more informational and transactional. I try to answer questions I might have looked up on Google in the middle of the night as a new dad. With the book, I got to flex creative muscles in a totally different way. I have a product at the end that I can show people and say, “I’m really proud of this.”

Q: How can men create friendships with other dads?

It’s something I struggle with, too. Parenting spaces lean toward being mom spaces. When you go to school or school events, a lot of moms will be there. Parents don’t have a lot of time, but I try to make time. It’s worth it to have people going through the same thing you’re going through. I also value the friendships I have with guys from before I was a parent, such as friends from high school and earlier phases of my life. It’s grounding to know people who knew you before parenthood and to have things to talk about other than what’s going on with your kids. Those relationships can be really important if you’re able to maintain them.

Q: What do you hope to do this Father’s Day?

The best laid plans don’t always work out! Usually, I grill food, let the kids run around in the backyard, and we have a low-key celebration.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received on Father’s Day?

My wife got me an Adventure Box, which is an idea featured in the book. We use it like they do in the book — storing little memories from vacations, trips and the little adventures we have. When we go on a trip, we think about what can we get that we can put in the box? I know it’ll be one of our favorite things to have 10-20 years from now to look back on our family adventures.

Q: What’s your favorite place in Atlanta to spend time as a family?

We’re members at the Georgia Aquarium. We love going to The Blue Ghost Arcade in Woodstock. You pay to get in, but then, the kids can play anything they want. On a rainy day, we’ll go to North Point Mall. It’s cool what malls have tried to do to stay alive in this time. There are playgrounds, trains and fun things for the kids to do.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a dad?

It’s really joyful. It’s so hard and frustrating in the moment, but you really get a deep sense of satisfaction. Even if things don’t go according to plan, when you’ve spent time with your kids, it has this weird ability to color your memories in a certain way. Like going to the beach — it can be hot or frustrating, but looking back, that was such a fun day. Kids are unpredictable and hilarious. You’re never bored. You never know what they’re going to say. I have two girls, and they’re fascinating little humans.

Q: What is the most difficult part about being a dad?

Trying to figure out who you are separate from being a parent. I explored this idea in the book. There is very little time for anything else after taking care of the kids, taking care of household and working. Only tiny slivers of time are left for you. So many things will get lost in the shuffle, and one of the biggest challenges is how to give back to yourself when you don’t have time. Treat yourself, have hobbies and have friends.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received about fatherhood?

I think there’s a lot of advice about soaking up the moments and enjoying them. It can be hard to do when you’re struggling. I had a friend who explained it to me with how you can find these counting instances: You only have X number of Christmases where your kids will believe in Santa, or X number of summer Olympics you’ll get to watch with your kids. When you can quantify it, it helps you really focus in and try to enjoy the time. It does go fast. Our 8-year-old stopped believing in Santa when she was 6, and that was hard. How can the magic be gone already?

Q: Do you have any advice for dads with daughters?

I have two daughters, so I’m in the thick of it. Being a dad to daughters forces you to examine your blind spots and beliefs. You have to be conscious and intentional about what you show your kids. In March, I wanted to make a point to turn on women’s basketball, because I wanted my daughter to see high-level women’s sports. I wanted her to have that experience. If you’re always watching men’s sports, what is she seeing or not seeing? You have to be open to new experiences. My girls love Taylor Swift, so I love Taylor Swift. Have fun and open yourself up to things that don’t fit the stereotype of being a dad.

Q: What advice would you give a new dad?

Hang in there. Every phase is going to have challenges. With the baby phase, that’s the part where you’re not sleeping. You’re up at night feeding or changing the baby, but that will end, and you’ll have a whole new set of problems. Try to enjoy it. You don’t want to be the guy who didn’t change the poopy diapers. Don’t shy away from the hard stuff, and it will get easier in some ways.

Q: What is a tradition you had with your dad that you’ve passed onto your children?

He was a big breakfast food guy. I try to think of him when we’re eating breakfast or making pancakes and say, “Pop-Pop would be proud.” My girls didn’t really know him. My oldest was a baby when he passed. It’s an interesting thing — how do you make them feel connected to someone they never knew? So, I tell them family stories and show them photos.

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