This past weekend Sydney and I joined a neighbor family for a four-day camping trip.
Even camping is more difficult during a pandemic. NY State Parks are not accepting new reservations at all and the the state has no national parks with camping and only one national forest. That leaves state forests, with first-come-first-served primitive camping.
Given my parenting schedule, we left Sea Cliff on a Saturday, which was not ideal. Arriving at Big Pond in the western Catskill Mountains about three hours from home, we found all the primitive sites taken. We checked in at the local state park, just in case, but were turned away. At that point, I convinced the other family we needed to just wander off into the woods to find a flat spot for the night. However, with one last search we checked the back side of Big Pond lake and found a perfect site, unoccupied because it was ten minutes from the parking lot.
The neighboring family consists of Katharina (from Germany), Jordi (from Spain), and their two boys Oriol (age seven) and Ovidi (age three). We are a good match in part because all the adults are transplants to New York. Sydney and Oriol get along great. We still limit our interactions to outdoors during the pandemic but have loosened on social distancing with this family, in an enlargement of our social “bubble”.
The camping was fun: no pandemic, no recession, no political chaos, no news in general, and no cell reception at all. Just swimming, exploring, cooking, card games, stories, and camp fire songs.
Sydney had her last day of school on Friday, June 5. Thanks to the pandemic, we have no classes, no sports, no day camps, and no vacations scheduled.
I have a multi-part plan to keep Sydney occupied and happy:
Outdoor Activities: Unlike when I was a kid, parents do not just send their kids outside to play unless it is in their own backyard, which in our case is too small and with no grass. So each day I plan one ore more activities including bicycling, inline skating, and kayaking. Sydney just learned lacrosse can be fun so we are going to start in on that. Swimming pools are closed now but supposed to open at the end of the month, which will be a daily activity.
Games: Sydney and I love playing board and card games and I purchased six new ones for the summer that work for two players.
Harry Potter: Sydney is still obsessed with Harry Potter. We are 2/3 of the way through the second book and a neighbor family already loaned us the third and fourth books. There are seven in all. They are getting bigger, with the fourth 734 pages long! It will be interesting to see how far she gets this summer.
Computer: I set up Sydney’s Chromebook with bookmarks to a number of different websites she is welcome to access whenever she wishes. These include Sumdog (math games), Khan Academy (computer coding), Typing Club, Duolingo (Spanish), and Simply Piano. It is amazing how high quality some of these programs are in teaching a skill and keeping kids entertained.
Play Dates: Families in our area are gradually loosening up with social distancing restrictions in an attempt to still give children a somewhat normal summer. We know five families who are about where I am in terms of keeping safe from COVID-19, in that we are all comfortable doing small group (two families only), outdoor, supervised activities.
Sydney will love this summer because she pretty much loves everything about her life anyway. It will just take a bit more work than usual!
On Sunday, June 7th Sydney and I participated in a Black Lives Matter march.
For Sydney’s sake, I will document here that on May 25th, a Minneapolis policeman killed a black man named George Floyd by kneeling on his neck. George Floyd was not resisting arrest and was claiming he could not breathe. Bystanders were calling out to the policeman that he was killing Mr. Floyd, but to no avail as he continued to apply pressure for over eight minutes.
The murder was shocking and senseless. It was also just one in a string of police killings of black men. Protesters came out immediately on the streets of Minneapolis, then nationwide, and then worldwide. The public is tired of the inaction taken by police departments and governments to correct what is clearly systemic racism on the part of the police.
On June 7th, a march was organized for Sea Cliff. It garnered such interest the organizers moved the meeting place to Glen Cove, the city next door, from which over 1,000 people marched through Sea Cliff and back. Sydney and I joined as the group entered Sea Cliff and marched with them for one mile through our village.
The march was peaceful and well organized but loud and spirited. It was very racially diverse. People are angry and this showed. I saw no one without a mask, due to the pandemic, and most people tried to keep six feet of social distance.
I had spoken to Sydney about this in advance and we talked more about it later. It is part of our world. I want Sydney to be aware and to know she can take action when needed for causes that are important to her.