First Things


| September 2000



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Leslie C. McDanielLeslie C. McDaniel

If there's a common experience shared by Farm Collector readers, it's often childhood summers spent on the farm. Many of our readers, of course, grew up on the farm. But many others were thrilled, as children, to spend the summer at a relative's place in the country. That experience, once common, is now rare, at a time when kids' summers are tightly scheduled with camps, classes and lessons.

Years ago, girls and boys were routinely packed off to help on the farm, or at the very least, get some fresh air and exercise. Today, men and women of a certain age speak in wistful tones of those days ... their first experiences driving a tractor, putting up hay, helping with harvest. They recall not long hours, but long golden days when they were given perhaps more responsibility than they deserved, when they learned by doing, and when rewards were somehow sweeter than those earned in years since.

What this country gained in return was know-how. You couldn't very well spend a summer on the farm and not pick up rudimentary mechanical skills, some grasp of animal husbandry, and a fair amount of resourcefulness. If nothing else, there'd be a keener understanding of the importance of agriculture.

Today's kids would be hard pressed to find a farm to summer on. If they did find one, chances are good that the owners would be either retired or at work in town during the day. And that presupposes that today's kids are looking for a farm as a summer destination. Severing the tie between kids and electronic toys can be a daunting proposition.

Camps exist for every conceivable interest, though: Some canny operator could probably make a killing with 'Farm Camp'. Guarantee an authentic environment, down home cooking, plenty of fresh air and sunshine, wholesome environment, all the while putting the little nippers to work, sort of like Tom Sawyer recruiting fence painters. Liability insurance would be the only major hurdle.

I don't know: Maybe in 30 years, today's kids will look back and wax nostalgic about those good old days at computer camp or basketball camp or even, I kid you not, pharmacy school camp. For now, though, they won't know what they're missing, unless you tell them. If you know a young'un, get him or her to the farm this summer - even if it's just for an afternoon. Plant those seeds early, and tend them well. And pray for a bumper crop!