Something Wonderful: The Land

This has also gotten a shout out from Atlantic

"The Overprotected Kid: A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution." By Hanna Rosin; April 2014

Rosin, I believe, is one of the journalists who called out Rolling Stone for the Fake UVA rape story. I don't think that makes her a conservative, just more honest than the average journalist these days. Admittedly a very low bar to jump over.

Posted by Fat Man at January 18, 2015 3:30 PM

Things have indeed come to a pretty pass when what most of my generation took for granted -- playing alone, getting hurt, learning from it, visiting junk yards, jumping from trees, walking, hiking or biking off alone, thinking up our own games and adventures etc. etc., must now be relearned, rediscovered; must, indeed, be the subject of tediously long magazine pieces, even documentaries.

Posted by Ralph Kinney Bennett at January 18, 2015 6:18 PM

The extent of my world, as a child, was the distance that I could traverse in a day on a bicycle. Most all of what is commonly called Southside Jacksonville Florida. Southside Estates, Arlington, the "Sand Mines", Pottsburg Creek, Ft. Caroline, St. John's River, etc. Only rule was "be home by dinner". No one ever knew where I went or what we did.

I have a Honda Goldwing. Sort of the same thing. The extent of my world is how far I can go in a day and be home by dinner (maybe 200 miles on average). My dad sailed homemade boats on the St. Johns. My mom wandered the streets of Birmingham, Al, Tallahssee, FL and Jacksonville, FL freely.

My family generally had no concept of restricting children. On days with no school, get dressed, eat breakfast, and head out. That was what was expected. "Beat it kids, get outta here, I got stuff to do!" I never missed a day of high school or college. Attended every day the doors were open and classes scheduled. Never even ocurred to me to skip a class.

The sun is shining and the temp is headed towards 70 so I think we'll break out the Wing and head out somewhere for lunch. No one is working today in honor of the MLK so let's ride!

Posted by Larry Geiger at January 19, 2015 7:46 AM

When I was younger, (4-7) we played in the "Jungle," a large bottom area of thick willows and grass. From age 8-10 we wandered the hills and dales and creeks that surrounded our little mountain village. From age 10 on the wilds of Rocky Mountain National Park, which was just to the west, was our playground. Back packing into glacial cirque lakes, fishing the streams, climbing the mountains, and skiing the slopes of Hidden Valley were our passions. Learning about weather, fire-making, trout fishing, navigation, maps, shelter building, and much more were our lot. Could not have been a better childhood.

Our parents worried some, but they had grown up pretty much free range as well. It was the way life was. Can we get it back? Doubtful, but well worth trying.

Posted by Jimmy J. at January 19, 2015 8:51 AM

Everything old is new again. The playground in "The Land" reminds me of one of our earliest destinations, an old dump that was on our grandparents' farm. It was in a shallow ravine located on the property in which the former owners had sent their garbage (probably since about the 1920's). It had the best stuff -- a rusted-out cook stove, lots of rusted tin cans and old bottles, mattress springs (there's a bazillion things one can make with mattress springs), treacle drums and the like. The best of the best, though, were a couple of rusted-out truck frames. Just the frames. I didn't know until I was an adult that you didn't get a tetanus shot but every ten years. Mom got us all vaccinated every year before summer started and shoes came off for the duration. I remember, too, that the dump was surrounded by the loveliest grove of hazelnut bushes and situated above the beautiful river. I feel sorry for kids today, with their sanitized "play structures", organized "play dates", and tyrannical soccer schedules.

Posted by abigailadams at January 19, 2015 9:33 AM

Does anyone else ponder that our kids are so regimented and kept "safe" today because the stakes are so much higher? I often think that drug abuse, the general lowering of all societal standards, is what turned the tide against kids being kids. The rites of passage now are becoming a gang member or acting like one, getting pregnant and then having an abortion. There's no real middle ground for kids anymore. No close calls. These are things that only happened in film noir when I was growing up. I remember how taboo it was for men and women to "shack up" without being married.

Posted by AbigailAdams at January 19, 2015 1:05 PM

AbigailAdams: "Does anyone else ponder that our kids are so regimented and kept "safe" today because the stakes are so much higher? I often think that drug abuse, the general lowering of all societal standards, is what turned the tide against kids being kids."

True, that. We had no drugs except alcohol and no one was selling it or giving it to kids. I was 19 before I ever tasted beer - and didn't like it. There was also the mothers who were at home during the day. If any of us got out of line anywhere in town, there was always a mother who saw what went down and reported the behavior to our parents. It was hard to be a bad actor if you wanted to be in the good graces of your parents. A lot has changed, particularly working Moms and ubiquitous drugs. Not to mention a pop culture that worships the lowest common denominator.

Posted by Jimmy J. at January 19, 2015 4:19 PM