July 6th, 2015

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member and Outdoor Enthusiast, printed with permission from the Renville County Register

Recently the Bold School Communities held a joint program called “Active Living Day”. During this day, the two towns were evaluated for bike and walking safety. The routes to our schools were examined and recommendations for safety and more participation in exercise were made.

This program was facilitated by a dynamic speaker, Mark Fenton, a former Olympic race walker. An Active Living Breakfast, walk about town, and a working lunch were held on the subject at hand.

This was followed by a school assembly and after school, a bike rodeo. Young bikers were provided helmets by the Kiwanis, a local service club. Police and Sheriff Deputies assisted in the bike rodeo. The Active Living Day activities had a lot of area supporters who financially assisted the event. The Prairie View Trail Group and S.H.I.P, the Statewide Health Improvement Program with Hannah Abraham and Leah Schueler, led the event.

Besides the bike/walk safety aspects of this program, the emphasis for more active life styles was promoted for all members of the community. Diabetes and over-weight people are an increasing health problem in both young people and adults.

During the event, Tom Fenton brought up the topic of THE FREE RANGE KID. To help to define the “Free Range Kid”, let’s travel back a bit in time. During our childhood which dates back to pre-electronics (TV, Video Games, Cell Phones, Internet, etc.), young people were forced to actually play. They found that their own ingenuity could provide fun and entertainment.

Kids in the past were outdoor kids. After school, they played outside until time for supper (dinner for you moderns). Football, softball and baseball occupied a lot of after school time, as did building “forts” and tree houses and things. Kids played with toy guns and learned the “art of war” or “cowboys and Indians. Yes, they actually aimed their cap guns at each other and pretended to get shot (air is sucked into people’s lungs at this point). They made rubber band shooting guns to actually be able to hit their “enemy” during war play (more air sucked into lungs). Kids who thought they might have been “shot” pretended to croak, rolling and flipping onto the ground in “agony” (more sucking of air). These kids didn’t develop into barbarians and killers just because of their play. The movies in their day (mostly cowboy types) showed these things and the kids copied them fairly well. These kids didn’t become active killers and avoided violence and mayhem in their lives.

There are a few good reasons why kids of that era didn’t become terrorists and killers. They had religion for one thing. Almost all kids were brought up with religion and went to church, confirmation, Sunday school, and week night “league”. They understood right and wrong and knew the 10 Commandments and practiced them.

Kids were also active in organizations that we have today, the Cub and Boy Scouts, 4-H, Girl Scouts, and other “clubs”. These other organizations often had a religious component and the kids were brought back to their base in these groups. These groups all had a very patriotic component that made citizenship an important thing for the kids to develop.

Some might call that era “fantasy land”, but without those components during a young person’s growth, there were gaps in his upbringing that portend trouble. In fact, without religion, scouting, 4-H and other youth groups, you couldn’t hire enough police to keep a civilized world safe.

Yes, there were a few kids that were messed up. But, most families had a mother and father and they had a work ethic. Some had problems with alcohol, or some abuse, but not in the amounts today. The numbers of people who felt themselves “victims” was lower than today by far.

Fathers or other family members made sure the young people were taught about guns and firearms safety. They were taken out hunting and fishing with their parents or other family members. Respect for others and for the wildlife that they hunted was taught. When dad brought home some ducks and put them on the porch before he cleaned them, the kids would gather around and pet the dead ducks and watch dad clean them. He had a chance to discuss how important hunting was to him and to the animals he brought home. We learned about conservation and the need for such things.

Dad belonged to the Izaac Walton League which was very active in our area. They worked on wildlife habitat, feeding pheasants, conservation and education. That soaked into the mind of the kids. That may be a bit of the reason that this scribe is so fanatical as a conservationist and wants more kids to become “Free Range Kids” that can become the “Wild Child” he was. The outdoor loving kid will become the conservationist of the future. We must teach love of the outdoors to young people before we can expect them to “save the world” in the future.


Today, SVEN quotes James Altucher, author of “Choose Yourself”: “Excuses are easy lies to tell ourselves to cover up our failures”.

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