I love to watch my boys imagination take off with a tree, a rope & all of a sudden they own their own outdoor climbing service. They can dream about racing down rapids in their inner tubes while walking over a bridge. They can use their tent as a safety shelter while replaying MAN vs WILD episodes. The sense of wonder fills a boys mind to the point where imagination and reality often blur. Wonder feeds our souls. For my two kids to stare at a waterfall that never stops flowing with the roar of the water impacting boulders that are hidden but 8 months earlier were climbed upon with pictures to prove it....that draws something out of them.
I also love the curiosity of exploration. If it wasn't for explorers we'd all be lost. We explore out of a hunger for knowledge and to discover the unknown. My boys explore the outdoors with a ravenous curiosity of timidity in the same step. They dig, they look, they examine, they get surprised by deer, coyotes & bears. They explore places that allow them to gasp at the vastness of something that never ends. To be outdoors and hike for 7 hours to only realize you haven't even touched 1% of the area you are in draws out the fact that "there is more to be found".
I love the mistakes that are made & lessons learned in the outdoors. To walk through a stream pretending to explore a creek bed to come back to camp & have wet shoes, socks & pants to then experience a temperature drop after the sun dips behind the last peak of a mountain tells young boys...ooops! To be cold & know you can't get warm as quickly as you thought allows them to learn. To close a pocket knife while not paying attention to where your index finger is at and that little quick cut of skin serves as a good lesson learned. To try for 30 minutes with a flint strip to start a fire cause your dad makes you learn that way helps you appreciate the match you just used to light the lantern. To hike up a hill and drink all your water too fast and deal with a side ache helps 7 year olds slow down a little.
Outdoors truly are great places to help little boys fail safe. Because of course the mama & papa bear watch them close enough so they don't fail to the point of tragedy.