Hey Readers — Just a nice summer note from a gal named Lynn:
Dear Free-Range Kids: So, last week were were out camping at Chincoteague, VA, and my kids and a man with four kids ranging in age from about 5 to maybe 10 or 11 were in the pool. The man with the four kids had a son who was about the age of mine, and they ended up playing together. I’d give them the “go” and they’d jump in the pool at the same time, seeing who could jump furthest.
Anyway, in the course of this game, the man and I made eye contact, and grinned at each other and struck up the occasional short conversation. In time, I heard him telling the kids that they needed to get out of the pool because they had to go move their campsite.
The kids didn’t really want to go, but were good about doing as he asked. So I offered to watch his kids in the pool while he went and did his thing, and when they were ready to go, I’d bring them back. He was surprised at my offer, but said that if I didn’t mind, that would be great. So he told them that if they wanted to stay in the pool that I was in charge.
On signal, the kids kind of pulled together and played in the shallower end where my kids were, and eventually, when they were ready to go, we headed back to their campsite. No problem. Nobody drowned. Kids were happy to play a bit longer. I was happy to be able to help. The dad was happy to be able to go move the campsite without having to haul the kids out first. Kids made new friends at the site. Win win.
Also while camping, my 6 (almost 7)-year-old, usually very much a “Please do it with me, mummy”-type of kid, asked if she could go to the camp store and buy milk. By herself. So I handed her some money and sent her off to get milk and to bring me the change. Which she did, coming back as pleased as punch with herself.
Perfect place for independence. I mean, really. A campsite. A family campsite. The lady who ran the store had seen us in and out all week and recognized my daughter. Even though I could see the store from our site, I just did my thing, trusting that she’d be all right. And she was. In a way, that’s what communities should be like everywhere. People recognizing each other and wanting to help each other and keeping an eye out for each other. Too bad it’s not like that everywhere. Free-Range? Love it. — Lynn