Summer camp

summer

Sunny days are just around the corner. Freedom and fun await. With trips to plan and bags to pack, what are you going to do with your kids this summer? What will your summer hold?

There are so many good options in and around Knoxville now. There’s Tate’s, Webb camp, Ijams, and School of Rock to name a few. VBS, swim team, dance camps, cheer, baseball, soccer, football, and any sport….. You name it and I bet you can find it. Whether it be the arts or sports, there are so many fun options.

When I was growing up, my summer days did not include camps. I never went to sleep-away camp. And, my family didn’t have the extra cash to pay for entertainment camps. Most days were spent hanging at the pool with my best friends. That’s it. That simple. Slumber parties, a trip to the beach, a boat ride on the lake, and playing. I was not deprived but it would seem so when I look at the norm today.

In this culture, we are conditioned to be led by schedules, structure, and deadlines. (I’m not immune!) The busier, the better! (or is it?) With all the craziness that the school year brings, especially the insane month of May, we welcome slow starts and easy ends to the day. And, I just don’t believe there’s some big benefit to filling the short summer months with schedules. Yet, I know this is not the norm.

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What I’m thinking is truly beneficial for our children and families is actually spending time together. Instead to signing up for a different camp every week and cramming the days, what about creating some creative time and  quieter outings for your family? Maybe we should even just take it easy and see what happens. Not having a schedule is not so bad. I know not every family has this option because many working parents don’t have a choice. But, many who do don’t take this route.

It’s not that parents don’t want to spend time with their kids, right?! One reason is because it’s just become the norm. What camps are you signing up for? It’s just what we do. And, then there are parents who don’t know what to do with their children or feel more comfortable having someone else plan every day of the week. Some parents just want to wear the kids out! Some kids really do want to play with their friends at camp and ask to go. And, many want to make sure to keep up with the Jones’.

Now, it could be worse. Kids are getting socially stimulated, while also staying active. And, I’d bet they’re having a little fun too! Camps sound fun to me too! Children who have the privilege of attending a camp are better off than having an electronic device babysit them all summer and sitting inside. There are certainly more wasteful ways to spend the summer!

But if we take a moment to reflect, we’d realize that kids grow up too fast. We want and need to spend time with them because they’ll be gone before we know it. And, we want to continue to steal time imprinting our values on them. With the influence of social media and the abundance of external factors that influence our children, it’s now more than ever that we need time with our children, not time away.

It will be nice to spend the mornings at a slower pace and see what the day brings. Maybe we don’t every week but don’t be afraid to slow it down a bit and explore together. What if our summer camp includes:

  • Reading in pj’s
  • Cooking 3 real meals a day
  • Doing a book study together
  • Exploring a new hiking trail
  • Playing in a creek
  • Going on a long bike ride downtown
  • Hearing some free WDVX music
  • Visiting a new park
  • Mountain biking at Baker’s Preserve
  • Wandering around at Ijams
  • Making a day at the Zoo, the KMA, the Muse, or the Oak Ridge Children’s museum
  • Volunteering
  • Lounging at the pool
  • Hanging in the hammock
  • Planning a lemonade stand for a charity
  • Planting a garden
  • Climbing a tree
  • Getting to know our neighbors better
  • Getting to know each other better

There’s no shortage of family-friendly activities in and around Knoxville, or even in our own backyards! There’s the saying, the family that prays together stays together. But, I also believe:

A family that plays together, stays together.

 

Bring on summer!

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The Winning Loser

Last night was Knox County’s Elite track meet covering all of Knox county. Kids must first place in the top 4 in the first, smaller meet to qualify. Over 800 kids attended last night’s meet, including around 20 kids from our little, ole’ school, which is pretty impressive. Surprisingly, Brody was one of those!

Most wouldn’t guess that the boy with a less-than-athletic body and little, white legs would be a sprinter but he is, the 100. Last year, he placed first in the regional meet, which was shocking. So this year, he went into the first meet, a couple of weeks ago with too much confidence.

I wasn’t able to attend but I kept my phone close and had Bo to give me updates and even a video of the race. Going into the first race, my husband said he was cocky, saying he’d beat these kids last year and he felt certain he would again. Much to his surprise, he placed 3rd in the first race. Apparently, he spent the next couple hours waiting for the final race sulking. He sat without hanging out with his friends or talking, as he was just sure he would win. His sweet PE coach even noticed and asked him if he was ok.

After placing 4th in the second race, he was less than enthused and made complaints later that night about why he should have had a faster time in the first race. Basically, he pouted that he placed 4th when I was celebrating. He still had qualified for the finals and he was (is) one of the fastest 4th grade boys in Knox county. But, he was seeing the glass as half-empty and didn’t even want to go to the Elite meet because “what’s the point?”.

Let me pause to note that this blog isn’t meant to brag about my kid, although I am proud. Wait for the lesson…….-

Like last year, we told him that it was his choice to compete BUT this was a privilege just to make the track team, and especially to advance on. Bo explained that he was robbing another boy’s opportunity and filling a slot that another boy may have wanted; the fifth place may have really wanted to go yet only the top 4 qualify. Plus, I added, even if he’s comes in the last, that’s still 16th of ALL KNOX county’s 10-year-old boys. That alone is something to celebrate. So, after some debate and convincing, he flatly said, “I’ll do it”.

He didn’t want to practice. He didn’t talk or think a lot about it, as he had prior to the first meet when he cried when it was postponed. He was doing it and not super excited because he knew he wouldn’t win. So, last night with a packed stadium and over 800 kids, he went to that track again. He didn’t seem super nervous nor excited.

Drumroll…… (No, he did not win! 🙂 ) But, he placed 4th in his heat, out of 8. It was a good race with his best time of 15.28. He seemed happy, but quiet. No complaining or arguing why he should have placed higher. No tears. No boasting as we waited another hour and half to hear the results for who made it to the finals. We knew it would be close, as only the top 8 times make it.

He placed 9th, with one hundredth of a second behind the next qualifying boy! We/ he thought he would have qualified so there was a twinge of disappointment when his name was not announced over the loud speaker. But, this time he briefly looked down and then looked right back up. No tears and even smiled back at me when I told him it was ok. That’s winning.

That’s proof that we can teach our children humility and good sportsmanship. And, I say this as a parent of a child that has NOT been a good sport lately. I say this because he yells, argues, or pouts when his sister scores a goal on him in a casual game of soccer or when his dad beats him in a friendly game of basketball. I say this because he couldn’t accept not being first a couple weeks ago.

I say this because kids can learn, and so can adults. I say this because we all (including me) are so caught up in being the best that we lose sight of the race and big picture. Humility is a hard lesson. So, we have to have these conversations. We have to explain what being a good sport looks like. Too many times, parents just accept their children’s bad attitude because they’re just competitive. Or, parents complain and whine along with them that the referee was wrong, or they deserved to win. It’s easy to do.

But, that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make for a humble, kind human when we only accept winning. Would I have liked for Brody to make the finals? Sure. Was he a little disappointed? Sure. But, am I more proud that he walked away without tears or complaints this time? Yes. That’s winning. That’s sportsmanship.

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sportsmanship

#chooseyourcharacter

#proudbecauseofprogress

#winningisyourattitude

 

Instead of…

Yesterday, a ‘girl’ or woman in her 20’s was at my house.We were chatting about our neighborhood and I was telling her what I like most about it. Mainly, I love our neighbors and the fact that my children can play outside without me worrying about them. She smiled and said she doesn’t have kids yet but hopes when she does one day, she will have kids that play outside because it doesn’t seem like children do play outside anymore. She’s right…but not in our neighborhood.

Many, if not most, children do not play outside daily. Every single day at school, I see a young boy for counseling and we talk about what he did after school or what he will do. The only thing many boys look forward to is playing video games. There are some girls sprinkled in there but mainly it’s the boys who are addicted.

Often times, it’s the same boys who are behavior problems, impulsive, or the ones who can’t focus. Hmm…. This certainly isn’t a coincidence. But, it’s also a very preventable problem.

video-games

My son is the same type of boy who, if allowed, would spend hours on a screen. So, knowing he’s this type of kid and staring at a screen is not making him more creative, imaginative, or intelligent, we have rules. Most boys are shocked when the ‘nice’ counselor tells them that my son isn’t allowed to play video games at all during the school week.

In fact, he watches little to no t.v. most days. Why? Because instead, he’s running around outside. He’s kicking a soccer ball around with his friends. He’s asking me to play HORSE. He’s chasing kids in the cult-de-sac. He’s doing his homework, doing his chores, and helping with dinner. He’s busy because he has to be.

This is one of my pet peeves . Life is too short to not have friends, play, run in the fresh air, and create your fun. I am convinced that this habit is paying off. And while I feel proud that my children do indeed play, it does make me think about more instead of’s.

  • Instead of letting them eat crap after school, I can give them better choices.
  • Instead of cooking dinner every night, I can let them.
  • Instead of doing their laundry, I can teach them.
  • Instead of packing their lunch, I can let them.

The list goes on, and your list is different. But, I know there are more ‘instead’s’ to be done. It’s takes conscientious parenting, which is why I actually started this blog. In a culture that often does without thinking, I believe in the big picture. I believe in making choices and not defaulting to lazy and easy. What’s the instead you can start this week?

 

 

 

Brody has committed to trying basketball again for the second time, only because we are friends with the coach. And although this may not be his sport or something that comes naturally, he’s trying and seems to be having a decent time. He tries hard, just like he is in indoor soccer too. He’s no natural athlete but for the first time in his life, he seems to be consistently trying or caring about sports. And, that’s cool with us.

As parents, we just want a little friendly competition and exercise with friends. And, I believe it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and try new things. It’s healthy for everyone, kids and adults. So, I am pleased and enjoy watching him care and try. And, most parents I have witnessed in these non-competitive leagues also seem to take the laissez faire attitude to being spectators.

But, the ones who don’t, don’t. Most parents are just there to watch but then there are those that are there to win. The minority who are there to win make it hard to watch. These sideline parents think they need to coach their kid, even though they didn’t volunteer to coach. Yelling from the bleachers, the way they put down their 10-year-old boys is hard to watch. It makes you feel bad to hear, so just imagine being on the receiving end of:

“Get your arms up!”

“What are you doing!?”

“Get your head in the game!”

“Come on…you can do better than that!”

And, the harsh delivery makes these useless words all the more hard to hear. We had a set of parents who decided after the first loss that they were going to switch leagues. And, it was no coincidence that these were also the parents that I looked back at several times as they both yelled negative comments towards their son, who is good, from the sidelines during that one game.Who’s having fun if the sole focus is on winning at this age? Get a grip!

It’s another reason I am more than totally fine not rushing competitive sports in elementary school. Sports should be fun at this age. It’s the adults who can make it less than. Kids under 10 should be allowed and encouraged to try new sports, miss some baskets, laugh at their mistakes, and enjoy the game more than winning. But, it’s disappointing when adults model the importance of winning and having to be the best at all costs.

Our first basketball game was 76 to 4. The other team is a competitive travel team who decided to join this league to show everyone how good they are. Their coach encouraged them not to stop scoring and yelled at them when they messed up 70 points in. And that proves what?…..

sportsmanship

This ultra-competitve sports culture in America is just ridiculous. And, it really makes you wonder what’s lacking in the parent’s lives that make them so hyper-focused on their child’s athletic abilities and wins. When parents take the time after the game to lecture what their child should have done differently or why they played so badly, it just makes me wonder if that is really going to motivate the child to do better. What’s the point?

Can we be excited and celebrate when they do get their first basket or goal? Yes! But, we should be celebrating because we see our children’s proud face. So, from here on out, I will continue giving those few parents the look. I will remind myself not be that parent. I will continue to keep perspective and recognize the positives and not the negatives. I will congratulate good losses. I will tell Brody good game when he tries hard, and praise effort. And, I will thank our volunteer coach for his time, patience, and encouragement. That’s what sports should really be about. Most of these kids who are getting yelled out aren’t going to grow up to be professional athletes so chill! Enjoy the game. And, be a good sport. These values carry over to life. These lessons make for kinder, happier, real gamers!

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