By Audrey McClelland
In my family, the summer is all about being outside. Our days are filled with going to the beach, going to the pool, playing in our backyard and heading to our local park. Simply put, my sons love playing outdoors. I especially love it because it’s time for them to be BOYS! They don’t have to worry about being inside and having to be quiet while the others nap or have to clean up the toys in the living room when they’re done. They can run and jump and skip and swim and hop and race with smiles and laughter – true excitement in the sun.
Lately we have been bringing them to a local Youth Running League on Monday nights. Talk about summer fun! 500 kids who are 12 and under meet up at a high school in Rhode Island and good, old-fashioned fun races are put on – 50, 100 and 200 yard dashes, long jump and ball tossing. Each child performs with their own age group, even kids as young as 1 year old can join in on the fun. It is the cutest thing in the world, but mostly, every single child there is having fun. There are high-fives and giddiness, laughter and healthy competition. There’s even lemonade and watermelon for the kids between races. My boys cannot get enough of it! They have met friends, learned how to do a runner’s start, enjoyed stretching before each event in a group environment and just spend every minute with complete joy on their faces.
I love that it’s all about children playing outdoors, together on warm Monday nights. Nobody is home in front of the TV or game stations. Everyone is out and about. It’s the way summer should be. Kids outdoors playing. Whether it’s at a local high school track or in a grassy field or on a playground, the point is, it’s outdoor play. On Monday nights for us, there is music playing and adults helping out and timing the races and ribbons being passed out to every single child that finishes a race. These are the moments they will remember. It’s a beautiful thing to see, all these children outside playing with their families close by and just taking in the evening with all its joy and delight. It truly brings me back to the days when I was a child in the summer. A carefree summer evening, enjoying my friends, having a blast and best of all, having time to play outdoors.