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Challenge: Summer Fun

Get Dirty. Get Loud. Get Out!

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Boys in trees, Bernadette Marie 2015

Campfire, Bernadette Marie 2015

In a world of sanitizers, cleansing cloths, safe clothes, and organized activities we often forget to let our children get dirty. Heaven forbid someone get just a bit too loud. I sometimes wonder if they remember how to even get out of the house. What is life without Nickelodeon entertaining them? The Xbox isn’t an activity?

We pack up to go camping nearly every other weekend. The beautiful, majestic Colorado Rockies beckon us to them. Imagine that with five boys, you’re going to hear some grumbling. (Usually from the older boys.) They all gather their phones and their hand held games. (Yes, we have a generator and they’ve even packed the Xbox.) Alas, the generator doesn’t last all night. Batteries run out. Now what will they do?

As a mother, who thinks they should be entertained, I grip the arms of my lawn chair and wait it out. They don’t need saving. Someone will figure out what to do!

One boy picks up a rock and throws it as far as he can. Cool. The next says, “I can throw farther.” Suddenly we have a game going, no formal rules, just lots of fun. When that ceases to entertain, they find a stick. Sure, they become Light Sabers first, but then a walking stick, a wand, a bat, a pencil in the dirt. Before the fire is lit, and s'mores are had, who can balance on all the big rocks of the fire pit? First one to fall loses. Oh, and for kids born into a new build neighborhood…what do you mean you can climb all the way up a tree without it breaking? A hammock hung between two trees is much cooler than any swing set. It’s like a fort that blows in the wind. Pinecones stack...sorta. Sticks can build tiny houses. Your voice echoes when you yodel.

By the time those brilliantly lit stars twinkle in a dark sky, all boys, no matter the age, are dirty from head to toe. Voice are soft because they've been loud outside laughing and engaging in life.

Sorry Nickelodeon and Xbox, you just can’t recreate those kinds of memories.

Bernadette Marie, Contributor

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