Kyle Troutman: Dialing in on some summer fun

For the next 14 weeks, school-age children in Barry County — and their parents (myself included) — will have to find things to do.

As part of the millennial generation that loves a little nostalgia, I can’t help but think about what my summers were like as a kid, how it differs from today and how I can ensure my kids have a summer worth remembering.

When I think of the weeks off of school I had, a flood of memories come to mind. In the grade school days, summer first and foremost meant getting to spent the day choosing what I wanted to do versus being held to my school year schedule.

Back in the 1990s — what today’s kids call forever ago — things looked a lot different than today. First and foremost, technology has developed rapidly in the last 30 years.

As I watch my oldest daughter glide from her tablet to her phone and finding endless entertainment, some more numbing to the mind than I’d like, I wonder how she would handle living with only a bunny-eared, 24-inch tube television and a Nintendo 64 — if you were lucky enough to have those.

We would call our friends on the landline, or just walk to their house and knock on the door if they didn’t answer. And, the amount of time we spent outside, I think my kid might consider that a form of torture.

Other than finding ways to occupy ourselves throughout the day, like riding bikes, playing basketball, climbing trees and finding the best time to use our allotted one hour of TV time, we did have some greater summer events to look forward to.

We were fortunate enough to take a family vacation almost every summer; Florida, Tennessee and Colorado stand out as memorable trips. I also had a week-long summer camp to look forward to in late July or early August, staying in cabins and exploring the nature in our own backyard.

July 4 was always a day of anticipation, as neighbors in our cul-de-sac and the cul-de-sac next to ours would have a firework-off until Little Rock PD came to shut it down.

As I got older and more serious about playing soccer, I also had a week-long soccer camp with the Olympic Development Program to enjoy, getting to stay in dorms at Tyler Community College in Texas and later in dorms at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

No matter the age or the schedule, I can’t remember ever having a lackluster summer. As a dad now, that forces me to ask myself, how can I ensure the same for my kids.

Fortunately, we are raising our girls in an area where there’s a fair amount of events on the horizon, and we have jobs that allow us a decent amount of freedom compared to the 9-5 my parents have always had.

Coming up soon are two events that will entertain the masses. The first is only a week-and-a-half away: the Fifth Annual Ridin’ With Mason Lowe memorial bull-riding event at Bill Hailey Arena on May 25.

The weekend following brings Cassville Trout Fest (formerly Outdoor Days) May 31 to June 2, a three-day festival encompassing the 84th Annual Cassville Rodeo (sponsored by the Cassville Rotary Club and Cassville FFA) on Friday and Saturday, free swim day at the Aquatic Center on Saturday and a free concert (featuring three acts this year) on Sunday at Cassville’s South Park, with a handful of food truck options available this time around.

Community organizations are also chipping in with events over that weekend, including the Cassville YMCA’s pickleball tournament, Cassville Wildcat Disc Golf Club’s disc golf tournament and Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce’s city-wide garage sale.

Information on all events may be found at www. gotroutfest.com.

A quieter June could include exploring the Cassville Branch Library’s Summer Reading Challenge, which starts on June 3. Signups are at www.blrlibrary.com/src.

Cassville Summer School is May 28 to June 21, then the Fourth of July will come in with a bang in Shell Knob, Eagle Rock, Seligman, Purdy and Wheaton.

Restless youth — or their parents — can also take advantage of the Cassville YMCA Summer Day Camp June 24 to Aug. 9.

While it’s only the first week of 14, if any of my summers as a youth are any indication, school will be back in session on sooner than kids may want. Aug. 20 is the first day back this year.

As we embark on the adventure of summer 2024, I hope you all — with kids or without — find ways to get out and enjoy the season.

From fishing and camping at Roaring River to traveling across the country or even abroad, don’t let the summer go by without dialing in on some fun!

Kyle Troutman has served as the editor of the Cassville Democrat since 2014 and became Publisher in 2023. He was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers in 2017, and he won a Golden Dozen Award from ISWINE in 2022. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or ktroutman@cassville- democrat.com.

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