Inexpensive summer activities crucial

It's not the focus of this column, but it would be remiss to not mention that the approaching Wednesday is D-Day, the 68th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy beaches by Allied troops. Effectively, this confirmed that the Axis powers in Europe were now fighting a defensive war, and that the Nazi terror machine was on the run. It's another day that every American, especially veterans, should remember with respect and honor.

Memorial Day, coming slightly early this year, culturally marks the beginning of the summer season, though June 20 or 21 is the actual solstice. It would not behoove the summer entertainment and recreation industries to delay opening until after June 21, though on most North Atlantic beaches, most people still consider it too cold for swimming. I suppose the same is true for North Pacific beaches, as well.

We have not yet made it down to Clovis' new splash park, but last weekend we, quite by accident, encountered the one in Amarillo and it was great fun. We knew it would be; we found one in San Jose, California, in 2008, the first we had ever seen.

Inexpensive summer entertainment and activities are crucial to the growing number of Americans, rearing children, who have less and less disposable income. Expensive vacations, for most of us middle class folks, are more and more a thing of the past.

We're thankful, then, for summer enrichment activities which provide learning mingled with fun for our granddaughter. Swimming lessons provided by the Clovis swim team are a mainstay. This summer will also introduce her to Wildcat basketball camp, as well as Camp Invention.

Of course they cost money. On the other hand, they pay off, and I'm guessing that the cost of all three of the above is less than the cost of a weekend in Santa Fe or Taos. (Admittedly, we figure this for one kid. I know the cost becomes exponential when you add others.)

It is, as well, a matter of priority. I remember telling someone a few years ago that we would eat hot dogs for a month if it meant Mikayla got her swim lessons. Learning to feel safe in the water is a prerequisite to having fun in our family. She sadly proclaimed that her ex, the kids' dad, was unwilling to fund any extra activities. It seemed ironic, because the man in question is a local gendarme and Air Force retiree who is certainly not hurting for money. Oh well.

In the realm of summer activities, we should also include art lessons offered by at least two local art teachers, both women of true giftedness. Mikayla will be able to benefit from one of these opportunities, as well.

Finally, we have the funding of a decent sized above-ground pool, large enough for adults to have fun as well.

I realize that this sounds like a massive outlay to some people, though I reaffirm that one can easily spend the amount of all of the above, on one weekend in a tourist location. For us, it's a matter fo stashing money ahead, bit by bit, so that we can draw on it as needed.

Nor am I saying, as might be implied, that everyone should set their priorities the same. It is simply so, in our family. For most Americans, at least for the time being, the days of the elaborate vacation are gone, as the gap in income seems to increase.

Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis Christian High School. He can be contacted at:

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