As parents, we have a choice to teach our boys to live in fear or teach them to rise above life’s challenges and act in faith. COVID-19 has added many obstacles to boys getting together to do the things they love. But right now, our boys don’t need to hear more “you can’t do XYZ.” They need opportunities to positively overcome the restraints imposed by the pandemic... creatively, safely, and responsibly.
COVID-19 is serious, but If we can’t show our boys how to overcome difficulties with innovation, boldness, and creativity in the midst of adversity, then what can we expect from them in the future?
“The Greatest Generation” -- those who endured and survived the Great Depression and World War II -- faced greater hardships and sacrifices than our generation today, including food rationing, hunger, and devastating loss. Fear did not define them. We call them “The Greatest” because of their character, their grit, and their determination to rise above fear.
They were not shielded from every difficulty, but learned to live in spite of hardship.
It is often said, “Difficult times make strong men.” If we fail this current generation, it won't be because we over-challenged them, it will be because we under-challenged them.
Boys are designed to embrace challenge, to rise to the occasion, and to overcome. Their God-given drive is to get out in creation, to get wet, to get their hands dirty, to climb the tallest tree, to take the next hill.
The outdoors -- with its wide-open spaces and fresh air -- is almost certainly the safest and healthiest place for kids to be. According to the Mayo Clinic, outdoor activities pose a lower risk of spreading COVID-19 than indoor activities.
The outdoors offers many benefits to emotional health, too. According to a recent article in TIME magazine, being penned up indoors for weeks on end is taking its toll on children’s mental health. The negative drain on kids’ mental and emotional well-being is deepening as they spend more time indoors, isolated from their friends and regular healthy outdoor pursuits. Many of the planned 12,000 summer camps across the U.S. were canceled this year, increasing episodes of depression and anxiety among kids, TIME’s article says.
As parents -- and grandparents -- we have an inspirational antidote to the spirit-crushing home imprisonment imposed by this pandemic. It’s called the Great Outdoors, and it’s calling to us right now.
Our Actions Today Shape Their Tomorrows
At Trail Life USA (www.TrailLifeUSA.com) -- a Christian boys’ adventure organization with Troops in every state -- we’ve had our own pandemic-related challenges. But we’re determined not to allow current difficulties to break the spirit of the 30,000 members of our program. We reject fear and aim to use our challenging circumstances to instill perseverance and a never-give-up attitude in our boys in sensible, responsible, practical ways -- skills they’ll need to succeed in life and the world outside their bedroom window.
COVID-19 could be with us for months -- even years. But, for the health and betterment of our boys, let’s rise above the pandemic and let’s find safe, fun, and creative ways to get them out into the Great Outdoors where they can grow into men of true character.
Need ideas? Consider your boys invited to join us for an outdoor adventure! Our local Troops will have sensible activities throughout the fall. Find a Troop near you at FindaTroop.com and see how we can help your boys develop into young men with the grit and qualities of The Greatest Generation.
Who knows? This period of difficulty may be their training to become the Greatest Generation yet.
-- Mark Hancock is the CEO of Trail Life USA (www.TrailLifeUSA.com), a Christian boys’ adventure and character development organization, with 30,000 members in 830-plus troops across all 50 states, and author of Let Boys be Boys, 5 Critical Needs of Boys, and Why Are We Sitting Here Until We Die?