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We're planning a 1970's Summer. This could be my best OR worst idea yet...we'll know by August.

Updated: Feb 16

Here I am, circa 1979, in my Sunday best and webbed lawn chair. I must have had some fancy plans, because I wasn't generally this clean or well dressed as a young child. More often than not, I was running around topless with dirt between my toes, trying to keep up with my brother and his friends.

Do you remember your childhood summers?

I don't remember all the details, but I do remember minimal adult supervision and plenty of unstructured time to play. This photo may not capture a typical outfit for me during that time, but it does capture the feeling I had - un-scheduled, un-rushed, free.

It's this feeling of freedom I've tried to hold onto and pass on to my own kids. It's the feeling we're going for this summer. Come June, we're slowing our wagon way down and rolling into a 1970's Summer.

What the devil does this even mean?

Less organized activities, more unstructured time.

Less complicated travel plans, more local adventures.

Less screen time (none until evening, thank you Techno Box), more time outside.

Our kids will not be doing summer camps (you heard it), aside from one week of overnight camp for Finn (15), who will be working most of the summer as a camp counselor. Henry (12) will be entertaining himself, along with a few friends who's parents are also joining my trip back in time this summer. We are all mostly working from home, so there will always be an adult available to feed our hungry humans, then send them back outside.

You may wonder if planning a camp-free summer while also attempting to work means that I've completely lost my mind. The truth is, I don't always think things through. But I'm pretty confident that this will all work out. Mostly because I've learned the secret to getting kids to create their own fun. After years of running loosely structured (with a capital L) outdoor programs for kids, I've learned that all they need are these 3 things: friends to play with, forests to play in, and fuel to keep them going. And I mean lots (LOTS) of snacks.

Will our unsupervised kids be leaving pennies on the train tracks this summer?

This is a new experiment, anything is possible.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because I'm sure this free-range experiment will find its way into whatever I write about in the coming months. The second reason, is that our focus on local adventures will add a new twist to our summer trail challenge. We will be leaving Seek'ems in new and different places beyond trails and becoming tourists in our own city. Think lighthouses, island forts, outdoor music venues (looking at you Thompson's Point), lazy rivers and other fun landmarks around town. You know, places you've always avoided because of the dang tourists. Why should they have all the fun?

Have no fear my nature lovers, we will continue to explore local trails as well. We're just mixing it up a bit, since I'm not sure how many more wooded trails I can convince my kids to explore with me...and they'll be with me all 1970's summer long.

Although I no longer hang out topless like I did in my childhood, I will forever seek the feeling of freedom I had back then. And if freedom for you means signing your kids up for a summer of camps, then you should feel free to do just that.

My kids never wanted to do summer camps, but plenty of kids love them. You also may have a job that takes you outside of the home or your kids may be younger and less independent. There are many factors to consider when planning a summer with kids. The bottom line, every family gets to decide how they want to live and parent, in whatever way works for their unique bunch. However you choose to summer, I hope you'll discover a certain level of freedom and that you'll join us for the summer trail challenge (#seekemproject), starting in June.


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