No more teachers, no more books: What are you doing for your summer vacation?.

[Originally published in the Rutland County Express on 6/10/10.] Don’t let the weather fool you; summer vacation is here. Sure, the last couple weeks have been chilly and wet, but it looks like it’s finally starting to turn.

In childhood, summer was that great, ephemeral time where routine and responsibilities were eschewed for spontaneity and freedom – walking out the door in the morning, having no idea where the day would take you.

Sadly, for me, those days are long gone. Now, summer vacation is packed into a couple long weekends, after work barbecues and maybe a concert or two. Spending an afternoon reading by the pool now elicits a feeling of guilt knowing that I probably have something more productive I should be doing.

So I decided to find out how those who do still get a summer vacation are living it up. First, I checked in with my niece and nephew – Julia and John Michel. Only two days into their break, I caught up with them at my sister’s house where they were lazily watching “Avatar” while the rain poured down outside.

In addition to the classic summer activities such as riding bikes and crisscrossing the neighborhood with their friends, they shared little common ground this summer.

Julia, 9, is booked solid.

“Let’s see… I got swim team, soccer – I’m goalie – horseback riding and gymnastics,” she said in between front handsprings.

John, 11, is taking a different approach.

“Practically nothing” was his response.

He’s got baseball for another week or so, but with the exception of a baseball camp at Castleton State College in July, he plans on “swimming and sleeping in, and X-Box on rainy days.”

Looking out the window, I noted that he might be playing a lot of “Modern Warfare” this summer.

I wondered if my sister was also on board with John’s relaxed summer lifestyle. I realized I might need a parent’s perspective at some point. Judy Endrizal Louras happily obliged. Her family tries to strike a balance between structure and “hanging around.”

For sports, her two young sons play hockey, golf and tennis. This often results in family trips to the driving range and public tennis courts.

“We’ll have some lake days with friends, a visit from my parents, many days at the pool, trips to the library and wading and catching frogs and crawdads at Tenney Brook,” Judy said. “And, maybe, a late-summer trip to Maine.”

Judy is also looking forward to working in the garden; though, “the kids don’t always agree.” This summer, she is also planning on doing some outdoor science projects, which both boys always remember and enjoy these.

But it won’t all be fun and games.

“Being the evil mother that I am, the boys will occasionally work on some history, math and language skills,” she said.

Looking for the teen P.O.V., I tracked down another nephew, Chris Sabataso, 17. He’ll be working some this summer, but was excited to tell me that he will be done by noon most days. While the cushy schedule won’t exactly pay the bills, it will afford him ample time to for hiking and swimming at the Clarendon Gorge with his friends.

As an incoming senior, college is also on his mind.

“I’ve got a few college visits I should probably make, too,” he said.

Like Chris, Connor McGinnis, 18, has a typical summer ahead of him – finding a job, being outside and going to concerts.

“Lots of hikes and dates with girls,” he said. “I’m also going to Maine with my mom and little brother for some family time.”

After talking to Chris and Connor, I concluded that I missed high school summers most of all. Sure, I have some sweet family memories from when I was a little kid, but high school summers were a blast (with college summers a close second).

Getting back to the structure side of the summer, I got in touch with Cindi Wight, director of the Rutland Recreation Department.

“We are jazzed about our new youth mountain biking club,” she said. “We also will have our first mountain bike only race on the Pine Hill Trails on July 11, called ‘Summer Fest.’”

The youth mountain biking club is open to all levels of mountain bikers in grades 6 to 12. Club members will ride together twice a week, and have the option to compete in races throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.

The Summer Fest Mountain Bike Race at Pine Hill will be a 6-mile loop, which will feature both an “expert” and “recreational” option. Pre-registration for the July 11 race is now open. To find out more about these activities or to get information about all the other Rec. Department programs, visit info.

Before you know it, summer will be over. My mother always warned me that it’s all downhill after July 4. So if you’re still a kid, get out there and enjoy it for all the rest of us who are cooped up inside writing stories on this first nice Friday in like a month. And for the rest of us grownups, let’s make the most of the free time we do get. Weather permitting, of course.


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