Friday, July 9, 2010

Make your own summer fun

LAS CRUCES — The Fourth of July Celebrations are over, full-tilt fiesta season and back-to-school (groan) preparations are still several weeks away.
What are you going to do?
Make your own fun!
I’ve written about all kinds of summer camps this year where kids can do everything from work for world peace to get fit and learn artistic skills.
About 60 local kids spent this week putting on a show, working as actors and assistant directors for a local production of “King Arthur’s Quest” in conjunction with the Missoula Children’s Theatre and the Doña Ana Arts Council.
All the organized activities sound like a lot of fun and I find myself wishing there were more summer camps for grown-ups.
Still, when I get wistful about my childhood summers, it’s the unplanned activities that rise to the top of the memory pile.
I remember those blissful mornings — three whole months of them — when I woke up knowing it was not a school day. Even though I really liked school, I found, back then, that I liked freedom even more.
Not that I eschewed learning. I read several books during most of my summer vacation weeks. And more dear to me than the bells of the ice cream trucks that prowled our Michigan neighborhoods was the news that the bookmobile would be coming soon to a street near me.
Beach time was another summer staple. Sometimes our parents would take a group of us to our favorite park on the shores of Lake Michigan, and, as we got into our teens, we’d be allowed to take a bus to a municipal beach.
I’m trying to remember what it was that made it so much fun. Swimming. Collecting shells. Sunbathing in the days before we realized what it would do our skin. Gossiping with our girlfriends. Flirting with boys, which always seemed a little more thrilling in our swimsuits, there in the mostly bundled-up Midwest.
We also probably walked several miles most days, around the neighborhood, to the schoolyard, which took on a complete different personality during the summer months, to friends’ cool basement rec rooms, and to the drug store that still had a soda fountain, rather retro even then.
There were always a few major arts and crafts projects, too. During some distant summer, I learned needlepoint and crewel embroidery and how to knit and crochet. We painted and drew sketches of one another and made fake flowers out of paper and fake Hawaiian leis out of recalcitrant summer dandelions and daisies.
We sewed and made some really cute stuffed animals, if I remember right, and some really ugly clothes.
Cosmetics and accessories were another summertime treat, acquired most from swapping with friends and from dime stores (the precursors of dollar stores, back in the Jurassic era).
We painted our fingernails and toenails with the wildest colors we could find. We attached fake flowers to our straw hats and flip-flops. We experimented with barrettes and hair ties and lots of ribbons. We tried to bleach streaks in our hair with lemon juice. We braided and made pony tails and French twists and gave a lot of thought to the great Bangs vs. No Bangs controversy.
We made big pitchers of Kool-Aid and lemonade and tried some disgusting variations on the classic fire-roasted s’mores combo of marshmallows, graham crackers and Hersey chocolate bars.
We picked blueberries and hunted for babysitting gigs when we were still too young to get regular jobs.
We redecorated our bedrooms did a lot of serious daydreaming.
We went out search for fun wherever we could find it, and if there didn’t seem to be much fun around, we made our own.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at (575) 541-5450

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