“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” 

— Anna Quindlen, “How Reading Changed My Life.”

“Boredom is a pattern not a reality.”

Summertime is here. Students in school love the idea of a summer vacation, and once the “new” wears off, many parents often hear, sometimes with a whining inflection: “I’m so bored.”

Many of us who live in the area of my generation, and I was born in 1958, and those who are older, rarely had the opportunity to say those words: “I am bored.” We had flue cured tobacco fields awaiting us for our summer vacation. Gone are most of the flue cured tobacco fields and gone, too, a lot of the intensive agricultural related jobs that were the instruments of banishing our boredom.

So many times we think, there is nothing for my child to do in this area. There’s more here than you can imagine. Everyone who is part of the Florida Department of Health and other health professionals discuss the huge increase in childhood and adolescent obesity in our nation, as well as the increase in the early onset of diabetes for many of our young people.

Parents, encourage your children to “move,” to become more active during the summer time. Hot as it is, your child/children can join you in walking a track, taking trips to area swimming destinations, or walking the many trails in state parks in our area. You may have to do this during the early morning hours, but if you go to well-shaded state parks, you can walk some, rest some and hydrate some. Take along a packed lunch and make an “outing of it.”

There was a time you could drive through neighborhoods in our area and, after school, and during summer months, one would see children in the yards playing. Drive now and see how many children you see outside playing.

The public libraries throughout our region are offering quality summer reading programs, children’s programs, providing movies for children, all kinds of wonderful opportunities. There is much more to do than drop children off and have them stay on a computer playing video games all day. I witness a lot of this, and I wonder if parents know what their children are watching or if they are happy their child is just “out of their hair and off the street.” One way you can know, if you have time, is to make a trip with your child to the library or “drop in” unannounced when you know they are at the library or have a talk with the library staff about your expectations for your child.

Usually the students who spend hours on the video games are the ones who could benefit the most from reading something, even a little something during summer months. This is simply an observation based on close to four decades being associated with children and involved in public education, and it’s no judgement. I would rather see children some place safe and secure than “on the street,” but it would be wonderful if more were engaged in active reading, and the public libraries are a treasure trove of great reading material for all ages. Parents can set an example by setting aside some time to read with them.

Here are 10 ideas for you to quell the boredom of summer for your child/children and for you that are here in our area:

  1. Blue Springs on State Road 6 on the Madison and Hamilton County line.
  2. The Billy Jernigan Pool in Live Oak on Walker Avenue. Phone the recreation department ahead of time about the rules, costs and other information.
  3. Ivey Park near Branford.
  4. The recreational area at Heritage Park near the Crapps Home on Helvenston Street in Live Oak.
  5. Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park.
  6. Any of the area libraries in Suwannee, Hamilton or Madison counties. Phone the libraries and find out about programs. Many sites are serving lunches through the local schools that are free of charge. Find out about that too.
  7. Ask at your local recreation league about summer camp opportunities.
  8. Find out when local churches offer Vacation Bible School or church trips or retreats.
  9. Check with your local 4-H Clubs and find out about their activities and their summer retreat which is usually to Cherry Lake.
  10. Most importantly, when you have the time, spend quality time with your child/children going to any event, anyplace, anytime, my advice is “do it,” and it never hurts in the process of having fun that you add in a few lessons in politeness, how to speak to someone, and respect. Remember respect wins respect. No one truly wants to be around a disrespectful child nor one who is a smart alleck. Most people dread to see such an individual, child or not, coming their way. I can assure you that manners and getting along with others, can take one places; a lot of places. You have to direct children to put the phone down and pull away from the computer screen to do this. It may be painful for parent and child, but it will be worth it.

In closing, I can recall a summer program offered eons ago at our little school in White Springs. For many years, the late Mrs. Virginia J. Daniel directed it. I can look back now and know the effort she put into that program and what she accomplished. She took children on short field trips to: the local telephone company, to the local newspaper, to local bakeries, to local parks just to have lunch and walks, as she related stories about the places students visited. There was not a ton of money spent, but each student who took advantage of these events looked forward to the privilege of being there. Now, know this was long before the computer age and computers are marvelous, but, and here I go, I feel they can severely curtail the creativity of many students. I can recall, too, Mrs. Daniel told us much about the history of where we lived, and it seems that United States History, most any kind of history has taken a back burner for many of our students.

Well, enough of that. Just a short article to remind us, we don’t have to travel far. We don’t have to spend a lot of money, and we don’t have to rack our brains about something for children or for any of us to do, it’s right here, close to where we live; “Around the Banks of the Suwannee.”

From the Eight Mile Still on the Woodpecker Route north of White Springs, wishing you a day filled with joy, peace, and, above all, lots of love and laughter.

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