When I was younger, I attended camp maybe a couple of times in my childhood. I did one overnight and one day camp when I was about 12-years-old. I had six sisters and a neighborhood filled with kids. My parents didn’t need to figure out how to keep us entertained while off from school – we had each other.
We rode bikes for hours around the neighborhood. We went fishing in the nearby pond. We formed kickball games and played on the front yard. We put on dance performances and talent shows. We swam in the neighbor’s pool and used chalk to make Hopscotch designs on the driveway. Of course, we did all of this after our daily chores were done and then we were gone for hours.
We were having “old fashioned” fun!
Once a week, each of us young siblings had to go to the family store to work a few hours. My older sisters actually had a work schedule. I am sure getting us out of the house was a way to give my mom a break. The experience, however, taught me a great deal that carried me through my adult life. I learned discipline, math skills, a work ethic and responsibility.
On those rainy days or when our friends in the neighborhood were not home, we were bored but never lamented about it. We just found something to do. I liked to read. I read a lot. My mom would drop me off at the local library for the weekly book challenge and I would try to read more books than all the other kids. My sister Stephanie loved to play hairstylist and makeup artist with our dolls and even experimenting on us; I had some funky haircuts at times. My sister Vera searched for worms and frogs in the backyard. We kept busy and found ways to stay entertained.
Today, parents are frantically trying to figure out how to keep our kids occupied, often over scheduling them. We are fortunate to have some very sophisticated camps around town. My own daughter has participated in theater camps, STEAM camps, sewing camps, cooking camps, golf camps and cheer camps.
Why do we feel the need to fill up the day? I have no idea.
If we let them, kids will use their imagination. Just recently, my daughter had a school friend over. They got tired of hanging out inside so they went outside and played “coffee shop.” They spent nearly two hours in the front yard making up games to play.
These summer days shouldn’t be wasted in doors. The world is ours to explore, even if that world at 12-years-old is your neighborhood. In addition to finding outdoor activities for my daughter, she also spends about an hour a day preparing for the next school year. She reads and has a workbook with math problems and grammar assignments. And when she is “bored” she figures it out.
Our kids are also blessed to have Our Lady of the Fields Camp right here in Metropolitan Detroit. I have written about this in previous issues and I am writing about it again. There are many opportunities for boys, girls and families to enjoy time canoeing, kayaking, on the ropes course, playing GaGa ball or participating in a variety of camp activities. And because it is a Catholic camp, they attend mass and mediate in adoration. What a true blessing.
The summer is supposed to be about having fun not filling up the day. So, get outside and explore!