Nature vs. Nurture

During the big Cub Scout camping trip this past weekend, the boys were divided up into huge groups (like thirty kids per group) that rotated between the different planned activities. As a family, we went along with my oldest’s group, and his little brother joined in the activities with him.

In the middle of the first activity, my youngest ducked out to join me. “Daddy,” he said. “Can we just explore?”

I checked to make sure there were plenty of adults around to keep an eye on my oldest and then agreed.

We walked a short distance into the woods and discovered a giant oak tree that had fallen over but was still alive. Its root ball was a good ten feet high, with strong roots running like iron cables into the ground. My son climbed up it and out on to what had been the trunk, but what was now a four foot thick bridge about eight feet off the ground, and twenty feet to where branches held it off the ground.

We climbed and played for a little while, and then went back to the scouts.

In very little time, most of the scouts were ready to go see the giant tree. I don’t know if it was because of my son or not, but the end result was the entire group climbing along that bridge.

At the next activity, many of the kids chose exploring and climbing trees instead. By the time we got to the third activity, the general consensus among the kids near me was that yes, they’d try the activity, but mostly just because their parents wanted them to.

Before you start condemning the games, let me say that they seemed both fun and funny, the sorts of activities that you’d expect kids to really get into, and, in fact, I think they would have been major hits had we been in someone’s backyard, or even a familiar park.

In the wilderness, however, they didn’t have a chance.

After all, is there anything that can compete with a stretch of unexplored woods on a sunny day?

I don’t think so.

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