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Oh, for those lazy summer days

Charley Najacht
Published: Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

My colleague Mike Sanborn writes a regular weekly column for the Rapid City Journal. In one of his most recent ones, Wednesday, June 26, “Let kids enjoy summer,” he laments the fact that today’s youth face such a structured summer life because their parents sign them up for all kinds of  activity programs. The kids don’t have an opportunity to just be kids and enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.
Many parents allow their children to stay cooped up at home all day playing games on i-Pads or some other kind of electronic gaming device instead of getting out in the neighborhood to meet and play with other kids their age. I can’t imagine what kind of summer that would be.
I remember my summer days long ago on the southside streets and parks of Sheboygan, Wis., where I was born and raised for the first 12 years of my life. Sheboygan is on the west shore of Lake Michigan, which cools the city in both the winter and summer months.
As soon as school was out, we couldn’t wait to pump up our innertubes and roll them down the sidewalks a few blocks to the sandy shores of the lake. Early in the season, the water temperature was usually in the 50s or 60s. Hitting 70 didn’t happen until July or August. The low water temps and lack of lifeguards early in the season didn’t stop us from paddling out and rolling in with the big waves. Now, if the water is below 85 degrees in a pool, it is freezing to me.
Back on land, we would lug our bats and gloves or ride our bikes to ballfields at either nearby Southside Junior High or the much larger Roosevelt Park. Some of us did actually join Pee Wee League or Pony League teams as we grew older. But the most fun we had was simply playing “sandlot” games where we made up our own rules to compensate for the lack of players on the teams.
Keep in mind that we enjoyed all these pastimes without any kind of adult supervision. We just got together in the neighborhood either the night before or first thing in the morning to decide our course of action for the next day. Sometimes we would catch the bus downtown to watch a movie for 15 cents and eat nickel or dime popcorn, depending on the size of the bag.

My colleague Mike Sanborn writes a regular weekly column for the Rapid City Journal. In one of his most recent ones, Wednesday, June 26, “Let kids enjoy summer,” he laments the fact that today’s youth face such a structured summer life because their parents sign them up for all kinds of  activity programs. The kids don’t have an opportunity to just be kids and enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Many parents allow their children to stay cooped up at home all day playing games on i-Pads or some other kind of electronic gaming device instead of getting out in the neighborhood to meet and play with other kids their age. I can’t imagine what kind of summer that would be.

I remember my summer days long ago on the southside streets and parks of Sheboygan, Wis., where I was born and raised for the first 12 years of my life. Sheboygan is on the west shore of Lake Michigan, which cools the city in both the winter and summer months.

As soon as school was out, we couldn’t wait to pump up our innertubes and roll them down the sidewalks a few blocks to the sandy shores of the lake. Early in the season, the water temperature was usually in the 50s or 60s. Hitting 70 didn’t happen until July or August. The low water temps and lack of lifeguards early in the season didn’t stop us from paddling out and rolling in with the big waves. Now, if the water is below 85 degrees in a pool, it is freezing to me.

Back on land, we would lug our bats and gloves or ride our bikes to ballfields at either nearby Southside Junior High or the much larger Roosevelt Park. Some of us did actually join Pee Wee League or Pony League teams as we grew older. But the most fun we had was simply playing “sandlot” games where we made up our own rules to compensate for the lack of players on the teams.

Keep in mind that we enjoyed all these pastimes without any kind of adult supervision. We just got together in the neighborhood either the night before or first thing in the morning to decide our course of action for the next day. Sometimes we would catch the bus downtown to watch a movie for 15 cents and eat nickel or dime popcorn, depending on the size of the bag.

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