Summer should be time for outdoors too

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, May 31, 2017

With summer nearly here (and with most schools already out) parents everywhere are planning for summer trips and activities.
Or, at least, I hope they are.
Though I was never one for team sports, the heavy smell of chlorine looms large in my memories of summer days spent at my neighborhood pool in Corpus Christi. In addition, being in the Boy Scouts meant there would definitely be some camping trips at some point.
There is a lot to be said for indoor programs that boost academic prowess and reading capability. I loved spending the hottest days in the cool of my local library, surrounded by more books than I knew what to do with. However, I have found that I’ve gotten older, the opportunities to learn and read never really end. There’s college, of course, and then possibly graduate school or just the odd extra community college course in the evening. Heck, with the Internet and one almost need not leave one’s house to learn an new skill or read a book.
But somewhere in there I managed to lose the ability to set off on my bike for the neighborhood pool and spend the day getting sunburned and doing stupid tricks off the diving board. These days, if I want to spend a week hiking around the Davis Mountains, as I did one week with my Boy Scout troop, it means giving up some other time somewhere else in the year.
Of course I miss spending long days outside because I once did in fact spend long days outside. The habit was formed early but the knowledge of local tree names, of local birds and waterways and the desire to be among those things remains strong.
Medical data shows that we’re a deeply sick country. We eat poorly. We do not exercise enough and we’re more out of touch with our local green spaces that ever before and that’s a shame. But it’s mostly a shame because it’s not hard to take a step back and hit reset. Our children do not have to wind up like this.
But, of course, it’s up to the parents. Sign your kids up for sailing lessons. Sign them up for swimming lessons. Get them enrolled in Boy Scouts. None of these programs are free generally, but consider the money spent as insurance, insurance against a future spent indoors locked in front of various screens. Insurance against poor health and a sick lifestyle. And yes, I can appreciate the irony in the fact that these very words were written on one of those screens.
Lucky for us, it’s not an either/or choice of summer programming. You do not have to either sign your kid up for swimming lessons or a library camp. You can do both and you should do both. And it will make all the difference that you did.
Jesse Wright is editor of The Port Arthur News.

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