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Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Unfortunately, you and I and lots of other parents grew up in a different time. I grew up on the shores of Lake Erie in a small town in Ohio. When I was 10 or so, the summer routine was this: get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, grab your bike and friends, and go explore. We usually ended up back home around lunchtime. Then back outside. Came home when my dad whistled for dinner (the man could WHISTLE!), then out after dinner until the street lights came on. This was all UNSUPERVISED BY AN ADULT/ PARENT. There was no fear about strangers snatching you off you bike (OH! and we didn't wear helmets then), or terrible fear about being hit by a car ("stay off the busy road...."). We explored open fields and woods and brought home dozen of caterpillars to "raise" into butterflies.

This past weekend, my family and I went to a freinds farm to see how he and his family tap maple trees for their sap. They don't do it for the money (it takes 40 gallons of sap to make ONE gallon of maple syrup), they do it so his children can do something WITH their parents and learn the value of hard work....and its benefits. They live on 25 acres of farmland that butts right up to I-70. I did not worry once about my son getting lost, stolen, etc. I was a GREAT feeling of freedom. The feeling I want my boys to have. But how?

I just learned this trick and thought I would share. You can zoom in on google maps farther than that allowed by the slider. Click "Link to this page," then in the URL change the z parameter to something larger (in this case 19 was the biggest I could go):
Zoomed in map of W. End Street

Not sure the picture really shows that the forest is dense, but it's a cool trick none the less.

Kendra: I wish I had a good answer.

Brian: Neat trick indeed.

I think I read somewhere that numbers of child abductions by strangers have not significantly changed - we're all just more paranoid now.

(central Illinois, central Illinois, central Illinois)

Jessica: Yeah, it's not really that high. Actually, I think parents are more scared of cars. I know I am.

Rayne: Good point.

Your post reminded me of the first time I let my daughter walk around our (very suburban) block by herself--I think she was five. I timed her, because I was afraid I would start freaking out, and then it would turn out she had only been gone for two minutes.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

This post is exactly why we moved where we did -- I also spent about 90% of my childhood outside, and didn't want my son to miss that opportunity.

Our house backs up to a creek (there are two homemade bridges -- one two houses over and one four houses over -- to cross) and then woods with a trail. From there, nothin' but corn fields to the Missouri River (about two miles away, so no real worries there).

Granted, the country folk here in the Kansas City 'burbs use them for their four wheelers, but not often enough for it to be a concern.

Great post, and it's good to know that outdoor time is a growing trend -- because it surely is needed.

It sure is; and I'm jealous.

I agree with Jessica. I think we are becoming scared of everything. I often wonder what all this fear is going to do to society. People are not meant to wake up and live their lives in fear. I have an older neighbor who watches TV all the time and then calls me to let me know what I should worry about that day. We aren't even supposed to eat vegetables now without scrubbing them down with some chemical detergent! I refuse to give in to the fear!

Yeah, it's a tough situation. I don't let fear run my life, but it's also hard to ignore certain things, too.

Yes, I guess you need to take what I say with a grain of salt because this is coming from a person who grew up in the country and who lives in the country now. I'm sure I don't have the same worries of someone who lives in a more densly populated area. I guess I'm probably just annoyed at my neighbor and I am venting here..ha ha ha.

No problem. But you are right, living in the city seems to increase the fear factor. Then again, you should see how they drive in Chicago.

Hi Brett, I followed a link here from landismom's. My husband and I moved to a small town (well, it was small at the time; it's been growing like crazy) about 5 years ago, and that was one of our reasons -- to give our kids some space to be free.

My 5-year-old has been taking skiing lessons. Skiing is one of the last best places for the kind of freedom you describe. When he's just two years older, we'll be able to drop him on the mountain w/ a buddy or two and let him ski completely on his own! Open ski runs w/ no adults saying don't don't don't.

I can't think of one particular experience, but I certainly enjoyed the outdoors immensely as a child, and still do today.

Jennifer: That's fantastic. My son wants to learn to skate and ski, too. Skating is more likely considering how flat Illinois is.

Jay: I stay outdoors primarily through walks with my son and running when time allows. I hope to get back outdoors full-time as soon as my career settles down a bit.

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