One of my new favorite bloggers writes about cage-fed versus free-range childhood. I remember age seven or thereabouts climbing a tree with my friend Mark. Our moms had made us sandwiches, though they didn’t know we skewered them on branches about ten, twelve feet off the ground. We borrowed a lantern that had been left at some road repair site in our neighborhood. I don’t recall we did much of anything except tell stories about our sisters or use coarse language or discuss insects of baseball, but it was good, cheap, free-range fun.
Less good perhaps was when I was dared to pick a lock on some shed on some nearby park property, and to my amazement (and my chief neighborhood tormentor) I was able to do it. We looked around briefly, and for fear of getting caught, sprinted off in different directions.
My mom might have been a supporter of free-range childhood based on the scheme my brother and I cooked up to dig a canal around the perimeter of the backyard, including a mud pool under the swings where our sister loved to play.
I don’t think churches, community centers, schools and such have summer classes in tree-climbing, lock-picking, or backyard engineering.