February 01, 2013

'Maybe Teens Aren't Interested in Nature Because We're Selling Them Too Much Freedom to Consume'

Ryan Jordan of Backpacking Light, who is also a Scout leader in Montana, narrates a brief video on "boys in the wild."

In the film, and in a short article he speculates about why some boys are energized by wilderness backpacking while others are discouraged "that the mountain is so steep."

Facebook's Colorado Mountain Men group.

Meanwhile, I am looking at their gear and thinking how much lighter and better it is than when I was 14 going on multi-night backpack trips with Troop 97, Fort Collins.


Dave said...

While I agree with the sentiment of the video, I think the biggest problem is that children are not playing outside. Most adults I know of who returned back to nature remembered playing outside as children, spending more time inside with their friends during their teenage years then they go out hiking or camping when they are adults.

Federico said...

on a technical side, it is really annoying that the video plays without having to be started by human intervention, especially because it starts at full volume.

Chas S. Clifton said...

Yes, it is annoying. I tried changing the "autoplay" code now to see if it will not do that.

Federico said...

I don't know whether to hug the man or to go at him with a bat. For instance, the time/money issue is so simplified that it bears no resemblance with reality. Teenagers have time and money -- up to a point. For the random teen going to anywhere resembling nature means: time to go there + time to do whatever + time to get back. If distances to 'get outdoors' are non trivial you also have to factor parent schlepping kids around. Time and access ARE a problem for many teens. Similarly for money. If you add many adults do not have time to take their kids out, and would not trust strangers to do so I am not surprised few kids go outdoors.

I ain't a teen, but growing up I did notice that in even then in the stone ages I was the only kid going around exploring the hills where I grew up. I friend grew up in a damn fine hiking place and, out of say 100 kids his age, he was the only kid going hiking, or outside. So the issue is not exactly new.

Finally, what happens if someone has, you know, a GIRL? Ain't she meant to go play outside also?

Chas S. Clifton said...


Of course girls should do these things to. But this video came from a Boy Scout troop.

As for the schlepping, that is where the organization of a group like the Scouts can help, I suppose. Share the work.

thanks for writing.

Federico said...

I thought about it. Now let's form these words in our mind:

I am sending my kids in the middle of nowhere, in a place where dangerous animals and hazardous conditions might be found. I will not be there, but another adults will. The kids will be unable to promptly communicate with me or the police if said adults flips out, are hurt and unable to supervise the event, or if my kids decide to actually avoid these people (insert unspeakable fears here).

Say these words out loud to you friends before shipping your kids out to a boy scouts trip, and feel free to share the reactions. The hysteria concerning kids' safety in not really heling the scouts.

Chas S. Clifton said...

If you were a parent involved in Scouting, the trip leaders would not be strangers.

But you should take your concerns to my friend Lenore at Free Range Kids!

Federico said...

We are on the same page on the fact people are hysterical about kids safety. Still, interested in the outdoors or not, kids must first and foremost win the battle of convincing their overworked, time deprived, and possibly overconcernced parents that doing 'whatever' is a good and safe idea (or that the benefits outweigh the risks). Given that many, if not most, parents have no interest in the outdoors, the battle to be 'taken outside' is probably harder than average -- and parents that are interested in enabling their kids to be outdoors are getting scare.

Past that non trivial barrier, then we hit the fact that most kids never had any interested in the outdoors anyway. For me, the land always mattered. But I grew to realise that my desire to be outdoors made me part of a minority.