A different approach to summer
The three-month break for kids is much different than it used to be
By Patricia Baer
In spite of recent blizzard coverage and the prognostication by a certain marmot in Pennsylvania, or maybe because of those things, I have been thinking about my summer plans a lot lately.
I find it funny that the same day our furry friend Phil decrees we will be forced to endure another six weeks of winter, the YMCA opens registration for its popular summer camp program. Seriously popular.
Last summer the website announced all slots were full a mere 10 days after registration opened. Now, maybe “full” means a dozen kids, but based on how the place was buzzing with activity the day I ventured to the YMCA during camp time last summer, I would guess that number is not even close.
Not to sound like one of those people who walked to school both ways uphill or remembers when soda pop was a nickel, but I recall the summer breaks of my youth as being a more carefree experience and much simpler than what parents map out for their kids today.
There seemed to be little planning involved—drive to Marshfield the weekend after school got out, drive back home the weekend before school started, and all the rest was simply hanging out with my grandparents. I remember it involved a lot of reading books, riding bike, and watching “All My Children.”
There were occasional road trips out of town to places with exotic names like “Eau Claire” and “La Crosse.” I have no idea what planning was like for my parents or grandparents, but from my kid perspective, it was all a fairly laid-back affair.
I can appreciate the need for registering kids in activities that keep them engaged intellectually and creatively. I understand the unfortunate reality of the “summer slide” as kids lose the engagement of class each day.
Keeping children supervised and safe is an important aspect, too. I readily admit I am a bit of a hypocrite because while I recollect my childhood summers fondly, I would never allow my children the free-range activities my parents allowed me.
As a result, on a chilly February morning I am thinking about how I would like to spend my July. I am trying to coordinate presumed activity schedules and navigate travel plans. Curled up under a throw blanket for extra warmth as the wind howls outside, tossing the snow across the yard, I am sipping my hot chocolate as I add “buy stronger sunscreen” to my notes so I do not burn again at the water park.