It’s that time of year when our kids head back to school classrooms, trading their swimsuits for school uniforms and beach towels for backpacks.
Even though we parents typically begin the school year signing our kids up for this activity or that club, don’t neglect to recognize your kids’—especially your boys’—need to spend time outdoors. Leave some time for your son to enjoy outside play after a long school day inside the same four walls.
Boys love being outside.
A healthy boy needs that sense of adventure—and the reality checks that the outdoors give him.
Some scholars say that the male brain is wired to enjoy the outdoors, starting with the fact that boys are visually more attracted to movement—including, presumably, the movement of game through the woods—than girls are.
Other psychologists attribute the male fascination with nature to a desire for, a memory of, freedom. Boys see nature as a larger arena where they can roam and daydream, and men feel that in the outdoors they can safely express their aggressive tendencies in sports or hunting.
Anthropologists relate a boy’s fascination with the outdoors to his evolutionary roots, when men were hunters who provided for the tribe, and boys were apprentices who proved themselves in rites of initiation that required courage and developing hunting skills.
Whatever the reason, most boys simply love to be outside.
They love to romp in nature because it feels good. In my experience, a boy’s fascination with tree bark, snakes, bullfrogs, and insects stems from an outworking of his physiological and his psychological needs. That’s a scientific way of saying that boys like nature because it offers them a physical and imaginative testing ground.
Boys need forts to play in and asphalt for street hockey games with their buddies. It’s in those places that they learn confidence and decision-making. It’s chasing “bad guys” through the woods and in pick-up, sandlot football games that boys find a healthy venue for growing into men.