Somehow the film Water Time by Allan Weisbecker made it onto my hard disk and it was well worth watching albeit frustrating.
Frustrating because it confirmed my own experience with my fellow human’s acceptance of new facts that violate their ready-made conceptions – namely none, zero, nada, zilch.
But I never heard such honest statements as “No, I don’t change my mind – whatever the evidence might be!” What I personally get most of the time is rejection or attempts to question the validity of evidence or fact.
Over the last years it has become quite evident to me that the root of all evil is government. For the simple fact that they claim for themselves to be above and beyond any morality. We teach our kids that taking things away from other kids is stealing and we should not do that. Yet when the tax collector calls it tax and does the same thing – it somehow is something other than stealing – but it’s not!
This is such an obvious truth but try to explain this to somebody who has paid taxes for all of his life and could not admit that this is morally wrong – simply because he would have to admit that he was wrong for all of his life.
It appears that to admit being mistaken is very difficult for many and it is easier to insist to have been right all along.
For the first eight summers we have been following what modern parents do – send kids to camps and have them entertained, offer them programs and generally take away from them the opportunity to create their own summer.
That is so different to the way I grew up. OK, it might have been once or twice that the whole family went on some vacation trip, but that was for maybe two weeks while the summer vacation from school was at least six weeks. So I did have the need and opportunity to invent my own summer, and I don’t remember ever being bored.
I had kept some of my sanity when I became a parent myself to a degree and did not cover all corners with padding, and my general idea about child safety was that if the damage was not permanent then it was OK. But we did make the mistake of not giving the kid timeÂ to explore on his own, there was always a class to go to and a program to be in.
Lately there are more and more things coming into my life that indicate that the situation is being restored to proper working. One of them is Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids. Ms. Skenazy gained notoriety by letting her son take the subway all by himself to get home – and talk about it. Her blog has become a center for parents, who want to let their kids gain confidence by doing things themselves,Â to congregate and share their experiences. There is also Ms. Skenazy’s book Free Range Kids available at Amazon, but I have to admit that I did not read it yet myself.
Today I ran into a TED talk by the founder of the Tinkering School, Gever Tulley, demonstrating that it is OK to have kids work with power tools. This talk was just the last drop that made me think about writing this all up.
Yes, it is a camp, but I believe it is different enough to set a good example of not over protecting our children.
Now, what do I do about all this? This year, at the age of nearly ten, we did not sign our son up for any summer camp. Instead we are up there in the mountains in a little cabin and the junior has to find something to do while I work. Fortunately I do work from the house, otherwise I don’t think it would be possible without going straight to jail.
What is the experience so far? There were a few upsets and mis-emotions, and we are not quite there yet where junior uses his time wisely (by my irrelevant standards), but he has gone beyond the initial mostly playing computer games to learning how to get videos of those game plays onto YouTube, and just today, probably in response to my teasing that after the summer he will be the proud owner of a big butt, he started to exercise without any prompting.
So, yeah, I think we are going in the right direction here. Any other experiences with summers without camps that I can learn from?