By Laurie, the Campcierge™
Is it okay for kids to walk home from a park alone nowadays? This recent Washington Post article by Donna St. George about parents who are being investigated for neglect for letting their kids do just that, and the ensuing discussion, has me thinking. Free-range or helicopter parenting – which is better, how kids benefit or lose out, and how can we provide our kids with opportunities in this day and age.
Most agree that the way we live and do things today are very different than “when I was growing up.” In those days – a few decades ago – kids walked to and from school and to the park without their parents. We’d play for hours after school outdoors – there was great adventure and excitement in discovering and taking new paths in the woods or finding a rope swing over a creek. We’d bike around the neighborhood for hours until dinnertime – and probably some more before bed. If your bike chain fell off – you’d fix it or an older brother or neighbor’s kid would probably help. There’d be massive games of spud, monkey in the middle, and wiffle ball games. Nowadays, that freedom, independence, discovery, and exercise – is mostly gone. Gone in part because of kids’ busy schedules of planned activities, but also because of our fears of attempted luring, actual kidnappings, and worse.
Whether you feel that the parents cited in the article were negligent in letting the kids walk alone to the park OR you feel that today’s society is too meek and that some despicable acts shouldn’t direct how we live our lives, we can agree that things have changed and we feel a sense of loss. As a mother of two kids (who, btw, are basically the same ages of the kids in the article) and someone who works with more than 30 Maine summer camps, I appreciate even more what camp provides and how kids benefit from it – especially in this day and age.
At camp, kids are outdoors in the fresh air and nature for hours and hours each day. They are soaking in their Vitamin D and feeling the sunshine (with plenty of sunblock on) as they swim, boat and water ski on crystal clear lakes. They are learning teamwork as they play soccer, lacrosse, and baseball. They are building their coordination by playing tennis, skateboarding, and mountain biking. They are feeding their soul with culinary and fine arts. They are unleashing their creativity in theater programs and photography. They are working with their hands in pottery and woodworking. And they are having adventures on out-of-camp hiking, canoeing and camp out trips. Summer camp is a haven for the experiences of our yesteryears, providing today’s kids with the opportunity to build life skills and enjoy the real-life, outdoor adventures, freedoms and experiences we had as kids.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.