What happened to Summer Vacation for schoolkids? When I was in elementary school, (1st-6th grades), we felt free when school was out. And we were out until the first business day after Labor Day, (which, before the Monday Holiday Bill, was always September 3rd), so we had nearly three months of…usually nothing much.
Most nights we stayed up late; most mornings we slept in late. Kids met with friends. The boys played games such as touch football, rag-tag baseball, sometimes marbles. They made collections of bugs, leaves, cards or anything that caught their fancy. They rode bikes, or skateboards when they became popular. They walked to the local stores and bought comic books and ice cream, as did the girls, who joined in to some of their activities. The girls made clubs, listened to more music than the boys and tried their hand at sewing and needlework, but usually dropped it; (we were already becoming impatient). Both sexes dug holes looking for treasure that was never there or even made the occasional attempt to dig to China.(Even if we had been successful, we’d have probably ended up in Australia anyway.) Some of us went to the bookmobile when it arrived every three weeks, and occasionally took in a movie, but since there was no theater in walking distance, most of us just watched TV, but it was hot and humid, so being parked inside was not comfortable. On the other hand, we girls played ‘House’ a great deal and made up our stories as we went along; sometimes we could pull a boy or two into that world, but that didn’t often last,(especially if we played ‘School’).The boys usually made up exploring games in the small patch of woods nearby or down the local creek; these became Sherwood Forest and the Amazon, or other far-off places that had their fancy at the time.
We had no public pool, but we sometimes had over-sized wading pools in our yards or we had sprinklers to run though. We didn’t have a recreation center and no nearby playground, so we put up rickety volleyball and badminton nets,( which kept our attention for about a week). We set up croquet fields on lumpy grounds and everyone argued about the rules, which no one fully knew. And we girls loved to swing! My father made one out of logs attached to the “shed”. Even my teenage sister would sometimes swing well into the night with her transistor radio held up to her ear.
We camped-out in our yards in tents, or sometimes in my case, in our “shed”. We had an uninsulated storage room attached to our house. My brother and I took turns staking claim to it, I usually got it because I would clean most of it to make room. When one of my cousins would come down, we’d make it ‘our house’. With that kind of time off with little on our schedule, we had time for friends and relatives to travel across states to visit…and leisurely decide what day they wanted to go see the historical and government sites around Washington, DC. Families sometimes took trips but they had time to still let the kids kick-back and use their imaginations and recharge their batteries. I think that is missing in children’s lives today.
The local schoolchildren will have seven weeks off of school this year. It sounds like a lot of time but most of the kids will be in childcare, some in classes, camps and ball ‘camps’. It is good to keep children occupied and active, but they have no quiet time to themselves, no time to just relax and be a kid. If they do have any ‘alone’ time, more than likely they will have their heads in a video game of some sort, with more pressure on their minds. Seldom are they found kicking back, doing nothing…nothing but being themselves, thinking for themselves. I hope that generation will find mental peace somehow. I hope they will find themselves in, well, in doing nothing.