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Sunday, May 19, 2013
Yesteryear outdoor fun seems to be lacking in current plugged-in timesPosted Monday, January 23, 2012, at 2:00 PM
It's kind of strange how my mind works when it's freezing and icy outdoors. My mind wanders back to my childhood and all of the fun games we used to play in the summer months.
When I was a kid, we spent most of the after-school and over-the-summer time outdoors.
We would run, climb, jump and ride our bicycles until the sun went down, we were called in for supper or the town's curfew siren sounded about 9 p.m. and we all headed home dog-tired and ready for a good bath and ready to jump into bed.
I wonder if our youngsters today know anything about the fun outdoor games we enjoyed like hide and seek, cops and robbers, tag, Red Rover, marbles, dodge ball, kickball, and whiffle ball?
In between all of those we played baseball, backyard basketball, sandlot football, rode our bicycles, and went for fun-filled hikes into area woods to shoot our BB and pellet guns.
We built make-shift clubhouses and forts where "no girls were allowed" and often ventured down to the Ohio River a few blocks away and fished, swam, skipped rocks on the water and sifted through the sand-bar beach for make-believe treasures.
I remember one summer-time adventure where three buddies and I decided we were going to "rough it" on an overnight campout on the riverbank. In our youthful wisdom we conjured up the idea of not taking any food with us.
Instead, we vowed to eat only the fish we caught from the river.
That mission didn't go well.
The fish weren't biting and we were forced to skewer some very small river perch and tiny minnows we were using for bait onto a whittled stick and cooked them over the campfire. They were kind of like crispy sardines with a lot of ashes on them, but eatable.
We also often had backyard campouts in small pup tents and told ghost stories most of the night, then hopped on our bikes and rode down to the bakery about 4 a.m. and purchased a bag of fresh-baked donuts. Nothing was better.
I had a friend who had a huge, old parachute that we used to prop up and it made a really cool, very large tent that was great until it got windy ... then the tent tended to float skyward, which required some fancy rope skills acquired from our Boy Scout troop to keep the thing from blowing away.
Also in the summer months we'd spend many of our waking hours at the city swimming pool -- often times beginning our splash time with a chilly morning session that started at 9 a.m.
The pool in Tell City in those days was the built-in cheap babysitter for many working families. Swim sessions were offered from 9-11 a.m.; 1-3 p.m.; 3-5 p.m.; and 6-8 p.m.
It was the parent's dream daycare and cost just a quarter a session -- so the price was right.
The availability of new technology and the acceptance of an array of new electronic gizmos have changed much over time.
When I was younger, kids or adults didn't have cell phones. We had a rotary party line phone at home or we used the pay phone downtown.
Along with cell phones, hand-held game systems no longer just play a game, but they connect to the Internet, take photos, store and play music and the list goes on.
Youngsters now have personal computers and many also have a laptop or tablet as well.
The rational behind that one is "it's for homework," but most of the time it ends up being used for things like Yahoo Answers, Facebook or Twitter.
Given the various options between the cell phone and a hand-held game system (DS for example, which is a favorite of my young grandson, Xavier) and their own personal computers, youngsters have so many more options for "plugged in time" and sadly outdoor play time is what is shortened to accommodate for it.
Super-scheduled kids is becoming more and more common.
It seems how children perform really does matter quite a bit to so many parents now than they did back in my younger days when our parents really just wanted us to be kids and have fun. Now many parents can't just accept an average child or even-gasp at below average. So they book their kids solid with tutors, piano lessons, swimming lessons, horseback riding lessons, language classes, ballet, football, AAU basketball and so on.
With how busy the kids are they don't have time after school or in the summer months to be playing freely outside with the neighborhood kids like we did in our day.
That's a shame.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be contacted by telephone at 847-4487 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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