Lebanon Reporter


June 20, 2014

It's summer time...

”Summertime, and the livin’ is easy,” says one of the most recorded songs (music by George Gershwin for DuBose Heyward’s poem) about this season. That’s what I remember about my childhood summers — long days to be filled with whatever struck my fancy for that day. There was no calendar of activities filling the day. The pace was slower. Television wasn’t usually an attractive pastime, as there were only three or four channels to choose from. Instead, I spent many hours each day outdoors with friends making up our own activities or playing games. Sometimes I’d find a comfortable chair or spot under a tree and read a book, allowing my mind to picture the characters, places and activities it described. In my mind I could experience the adventures as if I was there with the characters.Summer also included a family vacation trip to visit my grandparents, since we lived quite a distance from them. In the car my parents played games and sang songs with us to make the travel time go faster. We always enjoyed spending time with our grandparents and seeing cousins who lived nearby. We also took a day or two of the time away to visit some educational places that were either on the way or in cities near where my grandparents lived. On Sundays we went to church with my grandparents, just like we did at home.Today it seems that there are a lot more summer activities for children and their families. There a lots of summer sports activities teaching teamwork as well as sport-specific skills. Camps such as sports camps, scout camps and church camps, offer specialized learning experiences. The 4-H program, which was originally for farm families, has expanded to offer a wide variety of learning options for students who live in town. The public libraries have special events and reading programs, with rewards for reading so many books.Trips and vacations are an annual summertime activity. The zoo, a children’s museum or registered historic sites are great places to see up-close what you’ve read about in school. Some families spend a week or more at a campground or in a cabin by a lake and enjoy swimming, fishing and other water and outdoor activities. Amusement parks and destination places such as Disney World, Epcot Center and SeaWorld are also fun, entertaining vacation spots.A familiar proverb in the Bible reminds us of the importance of the education or training — both formal and informal — we provide for our children. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV) Everything we do with and for our children teaches them something about how to live in our world and get along with people. Sometimes the informal times of interaction with them, or when they are watching and listening to us on the phone or around home, have the most lasting effects on them.Vacation Bible School (VBS) was one special church activity that I always looked forward to during the summer. Back in those days it was always a daytime activity in the mornings for one or two weeks. We learned stories about Jesus and other Bible people and how the lessons in the stories applied to life today. We also learned songs and did craft projects that reinforced the lessons we were learning. While the timing of VBS has changed to being an evening activity at most churches today, it still has the same basic program it had when I was a youth. Most churches encourage children to participate in their VBS even if they don’t regularly attend their church. Some children go to two or more Bible schools over the summer since each church selects their own time and program materials.Watch the newspaper for advertisements or short articles telling about the times and places where your children may attend Vacation Bible School, and take advantage of the ones that fit your schedule. Your children will be glad you did.— Karen Ottjes is the pastor of Thorntown United Methodist Church.

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