Do you remember what summer looked like when you were a kid? I feel like all of my best memories involve the summers of my youth. Most of those memories were at the pool. We’d get dropped off for swim team practice around 8:30 and most days we’d be there until 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, at which time we were expected to be sitting at the top of the concrete stairs, waiting for mom’s oversized wagon to round the corner and pick us up. Which actually was better than the days she stayed at the pool with us because at least that meant the leather didn’t burn our swim suit clad body. Can any southerners relate? How we survived summers with the hot leather (pleather?) of that green oldsmobile wagon I’ll never know.
Most Tuesdays were rest days – getting ready for swim meet nights either at our club or another in town. At least half of the time, there was a summer storm delay, allowing for extra time in the cold clubhouse eating powdered jello and playing cards (usually more war!) I was a decent swimmer at a pool with some really excellent swimmer girls in my grade so I never knew if I’d make the relay team or not. Usually, I found myself on the “B” relay, but even that was pretty exciting. Can anyone relate?!?!
Other top memories include catching lightning bugs on super hot muggy nights while visiting my grandmother. And of course, her homemade peach ice cream from the hand cranked ice cream machine. Do they even make those anymore? It was the most delicious ice cream you can imagine.
Non-pool days included finding neighbor friends to play in the sprinklers or create imaginative games that kept us roaming the woods and various backyards until we were called home for dinner. Rolling over old railroad ties to find as many roly polys as possible was another summer time favorite. And other than the occasional church camp or Vacation Bible School, there were no day camps – we had to make our own fun.
These days, many of my children’s friends are signed up for camps from summer’s start to finish. With every kind of camp you can imagine – from computer programming to stand up paddle boarding. Art camp, cooking camp, theater camp, writing camp, sports camp, sailing camp, if you can think it up, someone has probably planned a camp for it. And they are willing to charge a pretty penny!
I really miss those simple summer days. Where I literally counted down the days until that blissful moment the bell rang on the last day of school. We were free!!!! And honestly, the last thing I ever wanted as a kid was a schedule – even if it was in camp form.
I am more than a little sad that my kids don’t get to experience the fun of a good old southern summer. But I’m going to try my hardest to give them a simple summer this year – trips to the beach and the pool, plenty of ice cream and lots of opportunities to
be bored, create their own fun. I just hope I survive it!