Chris, I will assume a few things here and then you can straighten me out on the facts.
You and dad haven't turned pens yet?
Dad has turning tools and a lathe? (Skew, bullnosed chisel, parting tool?)
Dad has a lathe?
Do either of you have a mandrel? Set of bushings?
I am trying to determine the starting point to explain what it is dad will need so he isn't frustrated.
Chris, forget the information above from my original post. I just talked with a mother of one of my students and she had primarily the same question. So thought I would provide this information and it should help. Holler if you need more information.
This page puts you (or should put you) right on the pen starter kit page. It includes everything needed, wood, pen kits, mandrel, glue, sandpaper, bushings. No lathe or tools. Not a bad price when you check them out singularly.