Catholic Activity: Group Activities
Parents should often plan group excursions for their children and their playmates.
Group activity is valuable not only for the lessons in co-operation; when organized regularly by parents in a neighborhood it can do much to set wholesome patterns for play in childhood and wholesome entertainment later on.
We have on our land a typical New England foothill that we call a mountain. If we were to propose to our children, on a day when there is nothing to do, that it would be fun to climb the mountain, they might very well answer, "But we've already done that." But organized as a mountain climb, with five mothers and fifteen or sixteen children, we had a successful afternoon's "play." All we did was climb to the top, rest, and climb down again. There were children from four to eleven and each age group went at it in their own manner. The fours tagged along with the mothers, stopping to examine the pipsissewa, the wintergreen, the crow's foot and lichens. The sixes and sevens shinnied up trees, scouted for Indians, and watched for deer tracks. The elevens ran ahead of everyone else and explored. When we got down, we ate coffee cake and drank cocoa and the good-bys were "Oh, thanks. We had the best time." Every one of these children was a country child, most had mountains of their own. There was nothing new or novel about climbing our mountain. But doing it together made the big difference.
City families can work out similar activities with trips to the park, the zoo, the museums, rides on the ferry, and without spending much more than bus fare and money for ice cream cones. It is not novelty or detail that makes these things fun, it is doing them together. Such a group develops a host of common interests and a loyalty to one another which will serve well when they reach high school. At that time, too, the same parents stand a far better chance of setting curfews for the group which will be observed, as well as establishing norms about use of family cars, dress for parties, coming back to one home or another for refreshments after dances.
Activity Source: We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland, Image Books, 1961