Well, my summer is officially on day #3! Yep, almost the end of June and we are just starting here in on again off again sunny southern California! I don’t know about where you live, but where we live there are traditional summer programs for kids – the ones that you know about when your kids are babies. You imagine them when they are older, wearing the gear. Hanging with the flocks of kids, all dressed alike and doing the same thing. For us, they activities are water related – the epitome of spending summer at the beach.
So this morning hundreds of kids ages 9+ headed to the beach dressed in matching red boardshorts and navy sweatshirts to begin the seven week program of Jr. Guards – an impressive program encompassing water safety and saving in the ocean. The 65 degree ocean. From that 3 hour program, many kids head off to their next activity, where my kids and others will meet up with them – summer sailing. This program is designed to teach the fundamentals of racing on the bay and drive home the Corinthian spirit.
What I love about both of these programs are the underlying skills taught. Independence. Responsibility. Self reliance. Problem solving. Skills that kids aren’t often given the chance to learn in our protective environments. Yet, to me, these are the traits of summer. When I was a kids (meaning under the age of 10) I lived at the neighborhood pool. Unattended. At least by a parent. When my mom wanted me to come home for dinner, she would call the pool and have them page me over the loudspeakers. I would race the two and half block distance, rewarded by the cool rush of the air conditioning once I opened the front door. It was so normal. And yet there is no way I would have allowed my eight year old to take off of 6 hours (at a pool, mind you) without my supervision or that of an adult whom I trusted.
So I love these programs in which kids travel by bikes and scooters, with each other and rarely with parents to arrive, find their group and get started. They are expected to have the necessary apparel and gear. For sailing, they rig their own boats, often aided by friends. They push themselves to reach new accomplishments – progress that is tracked week by week and incredibly visible by the end of summer. They are responsible for their own belongings (which of course, get lost – but which they try to find before parents become aware). They are responsible for their own behavior – treated as young adults by the young adults who coach them. They meet new friends. Play tricks. Tell jokes. All while filling themselves with the sense of self-confidence that they will bring with them into the next school year.
Oh! and…they are out of the house for at least 4 hours each day. Happy summer!