Why the Outdoors is a Great Teacher
“The mountains are calling and I must go.
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
The woods are a place of beauty and wonder. The natural world holds lessons for us to learn, and gifts for us to receive, that cannot be learned or received anywhere else.
Inviting boys to be in nature and focused on what is right in front of them, is part of our mission at Rockmont.
We want campers to enjoy being outdoors and to understand the natural world as their teacher and friend, while knowing that they have a responsibility to care for it.
A boy who is “trapped in comfort” walks into the woods full of reasons why he’s not likely to enjoy the experience. Proclamations of too hot, too long, too buggy, and “is the hike up hill the entire way?” These complaints are becoming more and more the norm in a modern world, where boys’ imaginations are shaped more by screens than sunsets.
There’s no need to despair, but action is necessary. We need to get our young men outside!
I once led a memorable hike with a group of fifth graders from my daughters elementary class. Each time we stopped to take a break and enjoy some water, the same fifth grader would inquire, “are we here yet?” Each time I would smile and say, “yes, we are here.” The students would be relieved for a moment and then amazed when I said, “grab your backpack, it’s time to go!”
This happened several times until the here and there became the same place.
I thanked Sofie for her gift that day. She reminded me of the valuable lesson of paying attention to the here and now even when we are on the way there.
The woods, the natural world, has a particular energy that gives us a chance to slow down, take stock, be inspired, and then come back focused and ready for the next part of our journey.
Below are a few more reasons to get outdoors, that not only benefit children but also adults!
You’ll get more exercise. If you make getting outside a goal, that should mean less time in front of the television and computer and more time walking and doing other things that put the body in motion. And I think we can all agree that less screen time is a good idea.
You’ll be happier. Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles.
Your concentration will improve. Children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. It might be a stretch to say that applies to adults, but if you have trouble concentrating, outdoor activity could help.
Being outdoors is good for your soul. Take a prayer walk this week. Start the walk in silence, let the silence lead you to gratitude and finally let the gratitude lead you to generosity. The prayer walk can be 10 minutes or 2 hours and I invite you to do it this week!
I’ll end with the words of Wendell Berry, who throughout my adult life has called me again and again to the depth of the outdoors and my own spiritual journey. And as is the Rockmont Way, I’ll see you in the woods in 2021!
-The Peace of Wild Things-
“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”
– Wendell Berry
Director of Camper and Family Development