If I had it to do over: Tips for summer fun

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

If I could go back to childhood and re-experience one thing, it would be summer vacation. Ten weeks off with no responsibilities? It seems like an unfathomable luxury to anyone older than 18.

What would I do with that much time if I were a child again? I've given it some thought. Here are the things I think a kid must do to have a good summer vacation:

Build something.

We built a tree house one summer. This is the kind of thing that if you did it now, someone would call the police, the zoning authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency. So do it in secret if possible.

We had the tree house well under way before any adults took notice. Even-tually, it brought several dads out of the house to offer construction advice. The moms stayed inside and worried.

Pick blackberries.

Blackberries taste like summer. I think they're the finest things a kid can pick. Plus the thorns lend an element of danger. I remember coming home with a bucket of berries and fine scratches all over my arms. I was proud of both.

Ideally, the berries will be found not on a "you-pick" farm, which is too easy, but somewhere in the woods where you have to hunt for them a little.

Make up a game and play it obsessively.

It's okay to take an established game -- say baseball -- and modify it to the point that it's barely recognizable. I recall a game in which the pitcher stood on one side of a house, and the batter on the other. The pitcher would throw the ball over the roof and the batter's challenge was to hit the ball before it reached the ground. He had to do this without breaking a window, stepping in flowers or falling into a window well. And they say real baseball is a difficult game.

Spend all day reading a book.

You have to do this when you're a kid because most adults can't read for more than 20 minutes without falling asleep. The key to a good reading binge is location: change it frequently. Read on the couch, read in the grass, read in a tree. If you can find a place to read while hanging upside down, try that, too. Acrobatic reading is one of those things a kid can do without suffering social disapproval.

Work on an impossible project.

One I recommend is digging a hole to the other side of the world. As you dig, stop to examine rocks. One of your friends will take one, clean it with spit, discover that it has a crystalline structure and insist that it's a diamond. Later, you'll find gold, too. Your friend will estimate its value at 18 bazillion dollars, and you'll spend a few hours planning how to spend it. You'll never get the hole more than three feet deep, but your imagination will have roamed for miles. That's not a bad way to spend a summer day.

Joe Blundo's column, So to Speak, appears in the Life section of The Columbus Dispatch. It's a mix of humor, human interest and information. A collection of his columns has been published in the book Dancing Dads, Defective Peeps and Buckeye Misadventures. He lives in Worthington with his wife and two children.