Summertime is a great time for children to develop more independence and street smarts. As I was recollecting adventures from my summers past, I realized that the current version is so much different than in the past, and with much lacking. And that’s a shame.
My days were spent playing army in the woods with BB and pellet guns, cherry bombs and M-80’s, and army knives. My posse would travel on bikes for miles seeking out baseball or hockey teams in other neighborhoods to challenge. We’d play for hours, and believe me there were many arguments and occasional fights. But we managed to work things out. We’d ride our bikes to an old, wealthy widows backyard pond and fish all day, oftentimes catching little or nothing,;but it didn’t matter. We were footloose and fancy free.
And that is what’s missing today for most kids; freedom and adventures. A typical kid’s summer schedule is chock-full of supervised activities, with little or no down time to create their own fun. If you are looking for a reason why so many college-aged young adults seem so lost, anxious, depressed, and stressed, look no further than this: they have been prevented from growing up as independent people.
Independence and street smarts were learned playing outdoors
Those summer adventures I mentioned allowed us to initiate, create, and manifest our play. We supervised ourselves, solved our own problems, took care of ourselves and our friends and siblings, made decisions and experienced the consequences of those choices, led and followed. These experiences helped us become more independent, responsible, resilient, street-smart, confident, problem solvers, and happy.
So as you start looking at your children’s summer itineraries, pause and set your intentions first about what you want the summer to mean for them. If you place autonomy and freedom as imperatives, you will turn potential summertime blues into lifelong lessons and opportunities for kids to bloom.
It’s pretty clear what I would choose.