Scott Colom: Keep children active during summer months

June 1, 2011 2:17:00 PM

Scott Colom - [email protected]


Scrolling through the homepage for my Facebook account this morning, a post by Judge Nicole Clinkscales caught my attention. For those unfamiliar with Facebook, each person on the social networking site is given a profile where they can post pictures, videos, links or thoughts. Friends on the site (These are often friends in the mildest sense of the word.) can view these posts and make comments or show support by clicking a "like" button. (Still confused? Watch the movie "The Social Network.")    


Judge Clinkscales'' post advised parents to be diligent about their child''s activities this summer and recommended parents sign children up for activities that focus on reading or academics. She also shared information about activities available in the Golden Triangle, such as the enrichment programs offered by Mississippi State for teenagers or the summer program offered by Columbus Parks and Recreation run by Chandra Williams.  


This Facebook post reminded me how different summer activities during childhood kept me out of trouble and prepared me for adulthood. For me, every summer came with vacation Bible school at Missionary Union Baptist, where we learned Bible lessons, did different art and crafts activities and played sports and games.  


Every day, my parents made sure my friends and I had plans, like trips to the Boys and Girls Club to play pool or YMCA to play basketball or to Columbus Slip and Dip. There was always a reading list for the next school year and my mom made me write book reports on each book.  


When my brother and I were 12, my father recommended we take a summer job at the local grocery store owned by Hilbert Williams. At the store, we were responsible for stocking and bagging groceries. After our first day of work, Hilbert agreed to pay us a couple dollars a hour. But, when we got home and told our father about the salary, he called Hilbert and said that we should only get paid a couple dollars a day. Hilbert laughingly agreed and this unusual wage reduction by our father ruined our dreams of buying a new outfit or the latest sneakers. Nevertheless, we continued to work this summer job through most of adolescence.  


Although I was unaware at the time, these summer activities and jobs were beneficial in several ways. First, they kept me out of trouble. The FBI reports that crime rises around 10-15 percent in June, July, and August. This rise is partly a result of students being out of school. Without the structure of school, teenagers are less likely to have adult supervision and have more freedom and opportunities to be influenced by negative peer pressure.  


Bible school, planned trips with friends, and other activities provided the structure necessary for me to avoid these temptations and influences. Second, summer reading forced me to continue my academic studies and helped me prepare for the next school year. Finally, as much as I hated it, my low wage summer job taught me the value of a dollar- cent by cent.  


Judge Clinkscales realizes the importance of summer activities for children and the community. Her Facebook post is a unique way to communicate the need for watchful parenting during these crucial months. Her suggestion that parents fill in the academic gaps for students away from school, which undoubtedly improves the academic performance of students the next school year. While these aren''t new ideas or recommendations -- my parents probably stole them from their parents -- they are useful and always worthy of reminder.  


Scott Colom is a local attorney. His e-mail address is [email protected] 


Scott Colom is a local attorney.