Being Boys Not Allowed

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ask any man to share his favorite childhood memories and more often than not they involve playing in the woods. The forest is a magical place for young lads to explore, create, imagine and play. The words "boy" and "woods" are synonymous. At least they used to be.

Fast forward 30 years and try to remember the last time you even heard of a boy spending much time playing outdoors let alone in the trees. Is it the video games clammering for their attention or is it the response they get from the "protectors of the environment"? Seems to me that the trees and animals who dwell there are more important than the invaluable time spent a exploring the wilderness.

When we bought our recent home, one of the items on our "wish list" was that the house have a large forested lot or be close to woods. Having three active boys we knew this was a non-negotiable. What sold us on this neighborhood was the 100 acres of undeveloped land and a trail system butting up to the property. The trailhead to their school is a mere 75 yards from our driveway. For the first two years my boys would spend hours off the trails building small bike jumps and forts. They would come home to check in with contagious enthusiasm over their newest creation. Other boys who would normal stay indoors followed along and got hooked on enjoying our local forest. Then the "protectors of the land" got wind of it and it all came tumbling down--literally!

Every day after school the kids would head out to play and return home upset over their destroyed jumps. Mind you these mounds of dirt were at the bottom of gulley, off the beaten path and not visible from the trails. EVERYDAY they were dismantled. It was beyond aggravating. The boys would come home in tears and eventually their trips to the woods slowly dwindled to about once every two weeks.

We happen to live in what is referrred to as "the watershed". Our neighborhood area is upstream from the lake which supplies drinking water to 80,000+ residents. The city council has determined that growth and development is the cause of a rise in phosphorous levels in this body of water. As a result no dirt can be moved during the rainy season of Oct-May. The environmental advocates feel so passionate about protecting this area and keeping it undeveloped that this forested area is now labeled a "preserve". When we returned from vacation this last May, the sign above was posted at the beginning of the trailhead. The picture is of a jump our neighborhood kids built. What a slap in the face! Now the simple act of being a boy is now punishable by law!!

I'm all for being respectful to property but do they really think that making a few bike jumps and "moving the earth" is really the cause of rising phosphorous levels???? What about the dog owners who refuse to pick up after their canine. I'm sure there's no harm in that. It's those awful children out there being..........children!

So what used to be commonplace is now breaking the law. So the next time you see or hear about a teenager heading to juvenile detention don't assume it's for stealing, using drugs, or other misdemeanors. Their rap sheet could now conceivably include "moving dirt".


2 Responses to “Being Boys Not Allowed”

JulieB said...

Ha! LOVE this post! This is, seriously, what is wrong with our society these days. Way to put it to words Dana! And by the way, feel free to come to my house to "move dirt" no covenants or laws here!
Talk soon.

Jeremy Saunders said...

aidan still builds forts, you just have to know where!