A question was recently posed to me by a fellow outdoors enthusiast. It was his observation that outdoorsy people all tended to be nice. He asked me “are nice people drawn to the outdoors? Or, does outdoor activities make people nice? Chicken or the egg?

First, are they nicer? When I was a child my mother once told me she didn’t feel that people of other religions seemed as nice as Catholics. It seemed clear to me that one simply gets along better and feels more comfortable with people that agree on things. Mothers belonging to other religions might be telling their young sons the very same thing. That being said, let’s just go with his question and say that they are nicer.

If true, and it feels like it is, I theorize that it has to do with motives, what is important to the individual. If gaining the most power, the greatest show of wealth or the highest level of prestige is your motivating interest, why would you waist your time in the wilderness by yourself or with a few friends? For spending time in the wilderness, or privately doing any activity that brings a sense of wonder and personal challenge but is not a means to public adulation, tends to be an endeavor for self reflection. Many of the journeys of self discovery converge in these activities with like minded people living-in-the-moment.