Summer is more than being entertained

There have been recent discussions of whether a pool or a splash park is best for area youth. I have no preference although a calm, logical evaluation based on days of use versus initial expense and continued expense might answers some questions. Anyway, water entertainment is not the focus of this week’s column.

It seems like a local concern is how to keep young people busy and socialized during summer vacation. I often read complaints that there is nothing to keep the kids busy. I also see a lot of part-time jobs that are not being filled; it seem like these two problems are an answer to each other.

My teen-age summers were spent busy on the farm. I also participated in summer activities but the greater amount of my time was spent at work. Work made me strong and taught me how to achieve goals, sometimes teamed with people I didn’t really care to share time. That’s the way work is-you don’t always work with people you like but there is an expectation that you will accomplish something with your time. You can preach work ethic all you want but there is nothing like hard work at a young age to create this ethic. Hard work is practical, hands-on learning as opposed to the classroom learning of being told what is means to work hard.

Work teaches young people to structure not only their labor but their lives, this is essential to a productive life. It shows them how they can use idle time to make progress in their lives yet still have time for fun. I believe many of my fun times have occurred at work not because work was inherently fun but because I used creativity to make chores more enjoyable. My brothers and I used to make a game out of cleaning out calf pens. We would see who could pitch out the manure faster or even experiment to see which method work more quickly. One person would pitch his end of the pen one layer at a time while the other would dig down to concrete and then work out from the epicenter. There were arguments for both methods however the fastest technique was renting a skid steer.

If you were to interview people my age who worked at restaurants or other part-time summer work they would say the experience was positive. I mean, you learn from every job even if all you learn is that you don’t care for that kind of work. After this realization, you can then work to find more meaningful employment-another lesson. You also make friendships and explore the world a bit as you meet new people. You see what you like which may create insight into what you want to do with your life.

I realize very little children cannot hold jobs and perhaps these little people would benefit from having water sprinkled on them. However, if you are old enough to complain about a lack of summer recreation-you are also probably old enough to work.

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