Summer Civics for You and Your Kids

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As summer begins and you are thinking of the beach, the golf course, the pool, trips to the ice cream shop, you might also think about how fortunate we Americans are to be able to not only dream of these things, but actually freely do them! 

We have all waited to get outdoors for more than a year. So let’s get out there! Amid all the splashing in pools, hiking in the woods and mowing lawns, let us not overlook the historical sites close to home. Jockey Hollow National Park, the Tempe Wicke House for the girls who love horses, the Ford Mansion/George Washington’s HQ during the American Revolution come to mind. 

There are many more, check them out.

I know, your eyes are probably glazing over and your children are rolling their eyes, but let’s talk Civics. The dictionary defines the word as the branch of political science that deals with civic (city, state, country or municipal) affairs and the rights and duties of citizens.  

Now more than ever we all need to learn about how our town, state and country work. And let’s have fun doing it! Learn about real American history, not the fractured fairy tales we hear about in the media today. This knowledge will make us all more informed citizens better able to counter the misinformation about our great country.

I recently read an enlightening article “Summer Civics Boot Camp for the Whole Family”. The article suggests making dinner time with the family a classroom by talking about trips to historical sites and books and videos on our founders. You may be surprised how much you and your family will enjoy the time. 

A great, easy to read book, Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story by Wilfred McClay may make great summer reading at the Jersey Shore. 

If your kids are cringing at the idea of a “summer reading list” get ahold of some videos such as “The Alamo”, “Glory”, “Johnny Tremain” for those rainy summer afternoons. The mini-series “John Adams” will give you and your family insight into what it was like to live in during the founding of our nation. Other movies like “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, “12 Angry Men” and “Lincoln” are just a few that can educate and inspire us as to how our government works. As for the little kids in your family try “Liberty Kids” available on YouTube. Do you have a veteran in your family? He or she can be a wealth of information about our country.

On the Fourth of July, our Independence Day, try reading the Declaration of Independence ( around backyard cookouts in preparation for the evening fireworks. You may be surprised at how many people are hearing those words for the first time!  Reading this document will be new to some and a refresher to those who need to be reminded of the courage, sacrifices and hardships the Founding Fathers and their families endured to give us such a great country.

In order to keep our country free and look forward to a great American future, we must learn about and celebrate our past. Have a safe and happy Independence Day and don’t forget how we got here!  

Have a great summer, get outdoors and remind yourself how great a country we have. Knowledge of how our country and towns work will make you and your children appreciative of the blessings of liberty. 

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