Kids These Days... Or, what we did, anyway
When I grew up in the 70's in Okemos, near the MSU campus at East Lansing, our road was still dirt. Our elementary school was on a dirt road, too. And this was in the professor's community. We had lots of great hunting everywhere near our house. There was a range of family incomes on our road, from poor to middling. And about a dozen kids in a quarter mile. Enough to create, say, 3 shapeshifting gangs who'd chase each other around throwing rocks, shooting bbguns, playing, squabbling, bullying, the works. Sometimes on the sledhill it would be one big gang of all ages. We had plenty of sandlot sport in the front yards. Tons of exploring the woods and fields, looking under "snake boards."
After our group grew up and the road was paved the next crop shrunk to about 3 kids who mostly stayed indoors and watched TV. Sad.
I think we had a good growing-up.
Now, parents were around sometimes. Our parents took us hunting occasionally, played yardsport with us, even went sledding sometimes, showed us the basics of archery and gun safety (but we took a school safety class, too), went on youth-group canoe trips sometimes. I'd say the parental presence on outings was 1-in-6 as "tweens" then 1-in-100 as teens.
One of the aspects of the things we did as we grew up that just struck me was how many of them were mostly adult-activities. We'd be the only kids involved when we left our turf and went out and did events. Just us and a buncha grownups or the general public. No parents around at all.
Here's what I did on my own or with small groups of pals along these "among grownups and the general public" lines:
*3-to-7-acre rowcrop gardens with veggie stand along the road and selling to stores, all mostly hand-worked (ages 12-15)
*TarBaby asphalt recoating---driveways and biz lots (ages 15-17)
*MSU Herpetology Club---went on fieldtrips with grad students (ages 12-14)
*Fly-tying Club (14-16)
*Traplines (13-18---we'd go to big fur auctions and be the only kids there out of hundreds)
*Archery (10-17---we'd get dropped off and hang out in smoky bowling alley style archery lanes)
*Bike club (14> ---most were 20's on up; never parents around; actually we all learned how to ride on busy roads BY OURSELVES---no parent ever around---we were clueless but survived)
*Ski racing (17> ---most 20's on up; no parents)
*Library card at MSU (14> ---that used to freak out the checkout students)
*Went to town on our own walking (4 miles), riding bikes or taking the bus to get further downtown, starting at age 14, for exploring stores, rooftops, libraries, everywhere we could think of
*Solo weekend fishing, canoe and bike trips (13> ---several of us kids would just ride off and go camping, like to Cedar Point, we asked people in downtown Toledo if we could sleep in their backyard; before we could drive we'd hire older kids to drive us up for weekends troutfishing; we were the only kids we ever saw on the trout waters; no parents)
*Magazine editor (at 17 I was ass't editor for a summer for the Bow&Arrow and GunWorld group of mags, fun! at 18 was AE for Canoe then Rod&Reel...for a half year...a bit too young)