Whatever happened to …

… summer vacation?

As I see educators counting down to the last day of school or the last day of a career, I started to think about what summer meant/means to me.

As a kid growing up, it was always swimming lessons in the morning, public swimming in the afternoon and evenings. Unless it rained or there was a baseball game. Later, I ended up lifeguarding and teaching swimming through the Red Cross and the Royal Life Saving Society. For the most part, that helped with summer jobs during university as well.

Then came the real world after getting my first job in teaching.

In the first years, summers meant a return to school to pick up additional qualifications and then to teach some during July but there was always August. Eventually priorities kicked in and summer vacation became both months.

Since my first summer as a teacher, my wife and I have dropped the dog off at the Hound Dog Hilton, the kids with their grandparents and then enjoyed a week or two along the shores of Lake Huron and then over to Niagara Falls. The Niagara Region is incredible in that there’s never a shortage of things to do or to spend money. Of course, we’re tourists – when I talk to friends there, they indicate they go to just about anywhere but the falls.

I have fond memories of Clifton Hill, Ripley’s Believe or Not, Movieland Wax Museum, Prince of Wales Stakes, to name some, a million wineries, and then all the souvenir stores. We have a daughter with a unique spelling of her name and were always on the lookout for a souvenir with it spelled correctly. Still looking.

These trips were annual events with other things added in – Detroit Tiger Baseball game, Michigan Wolverine tailgating and football, the beaches up and down the coast of Lake Huron, and more. As we know, none of this is really possible this year although the beaches are a possibility.

The lack of a summer holiday really started last summer. As such, we gained a renewed appreciation for what we have here at home. Unlike the formal holidays, these are day trips for us and we enjoy them as well. Point Pelee, Holiday Beach, Sadler’s Pond, Colasanti, Wheatley Provincial Park, wineries so many places, and the world’s best pizza.

Even with vaccinations done, destinations will be limited again this summer. I suppose that technically it’s going to be possible but we’ve decided to stay local again. We picked up the Windsor Essex Pelee Island tourism guide and there’s always something new. Plus, the tip at Point Pelee is never the same twice.

For a Sunday, your thoughts

  • do you have any fond memories of childhood vacations? Are there any that you’d like to relive?
  • if you have kids, do you take them with you or is it a real vacation for everyone?
  • do you have a traditional place that you like to visit?
  • how did you spend last summer?
  • what are your plans for this summer?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning feature around here – past articles are archived here.

I’m always on the look for ideas for this post. Got one? Share it!

5 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Oh, summer vacations! In all honesty, I’ve worked for the last 30 summers, and hope that I will this year too. My parents ran a private school for many years, so summers were often spent teaching or working at their summer camp program. Then for the past four years, I’ve been the Summer Curriculum and Site Support Teacher for a summer program through our Board. This year, it’s online again and I needed to apply to the position, but I’m hoping to be doing it again. It’s more of a consultant role than a teacher one, but with the added bonus of still getting to see and work with kids and their teacher instructors. I love it, and I feel fortunate to get to spend the summer doing what I love … interspersed with a lot of book reading, which also makes me happy. As of Friday evening, I should be doubly vaccinated — Wahoo!! — so maybe time away is in my future, but I was never a huge traveller. Curious to hear how others will be spending their summer vacations. I hope that you have a fantastic one, Doug, even if closer to home.



  2. Good morning Doug!

    I was awake this morning before 5 AM, and I was wondering what your “Whatever happened to …?” question would be for this morning. While I was waiting, I noticed a trending topic on Twitter and I spent a few minutes browsing. Granted, three out of the five trending topics on Twitter these days are quite frequently a waste of time and/or partisan/political and/or toxic/negative, but this particular trend had a couple of bon mots.

    The topic was #TheReasonWhyIQuit, and it dovetails nicely with a “Whatever happened to …?” question that you might like to consider for a future Sunday — “Whatever happened to commenting on blogs?”

    We both noticed this week that the CBC had turned off commenting on their site for a month in response to a lot of negative/toxic commenting that their reporters have been subjected to recently. I know that you have taken considerable steps here on Doug – Off the Record to combat the spam that can accumulate. I’m also conscious that including any kind of a link in a comment here throws the comment into the moderation cycle, and at some point, the effort to engage effectively becomes significantly diminished. It used to be that having comments available was an invitation to a conversation, but one really has to look at the nature of how people are interacting in the comment sections on posts and on social media and ask the question if there is a valid reason for continuing.

    Here is one of the tweets this morning from the #TheReasonWhyIQuit trend that I would prefer to embed, but will instead insert here in text format for easier posting to your comments:

    I am out of the office camping for the summer. Please email back in September.

    I have left the office for two hours to undergo kidney surgery but you can reach me on my cell.

    And this is where the juxtaposition of the topics occurs and we segue to the topic of “whatever happened to summer vacation?”

    As a kid, summers when I was younger were spent on a day-by-day basis, wandering our 100 acre parcel of land, building dams with rocks in the streams, building tree houses and forts, trying out the tiny apples on the trees in the orchard (they usually weren’t edible until the fall when my walk back up the lane from the school bus allowed me to sate my late afternoon hunger pangs with several Snow apples) and generally hanging out. As we got older, we would ride our bikes along the concession road to hang out with friends for the day. Each summer was usually good for at least one “Barn Show” where my siblings, cousins, friends would get together and put together a loose agenda of variety acts and then invite all of the parents to come and see — frequently we had refreshments and charged admission. My brother and I would re-enact Red Skelton skits. The penultimate event in the show was normally “_________” will now swing on the rope … from the second beam (kids of increasing ages would take turns climbing higher and higher on the ladder, with the final, highest swing reserved for the one of us who had the highest amount of daring for that year) — a feat of daring that probably gave all the parents heart palpitations. As my youngest was often fond of saying a few years back, “Good times.”

    Of course, once you get into the teen years, the prospect of summer jobs arises. I remember fondly the first summer I worked for my dad on the farm at $1/hour, putting in 7 hour days and earning enough over the summer to buy my first 10-speed. I think that summer coincided with the year we had CKVR added to our television (the repairman had to replace a part, and as a result, “we now got an extra channel”) and so my 8-4 workday was followed with a swim in the pond and then Start Trek, in syndication from Barrie, at 5.

    I was 14 the summer when Paul McCartney and Wings released “Silly Love Songs,” and “Let ‘em In,” as I remember those songs constantly playing on the radio as I drove all over our farm doing farm chores with our Ford van. “Let ‘em in” was particularly annoying then, but I guess nostalgia has a way of taking the edge off of songs you didn’t like when they first came out. Within a couple of years, my drivers’ licence meant that I was off working for chunks of the summer, and so those routines of childhood summers passed.

    Fast forward to teaching, and the annual cycle of summer break from school took on new meaning. It took a couple of years for me to realize that the necessary decompression from teaching could easily eat up a week or more at the start of July — and so we took to planning for a start to the summer as soon as school ended so as to not waste a week getting re-oriented. I remember visiting my brother once for the weekend right after school ended, and decided on the spot Sunday afternoon to take a right turn onto the Trans-Canada rather than returning to Belleville. We’d been in Belleville enough, and so a bit of spontaneity took us off into Northern Ontario.

    When the kids were kids, of course they came along. I remember seeing ahead as the boys got older and realized that once they reached the age of summer jobs, the opportunity for family vacations would diminish.

    There’s no doubt that the pandemic of 2020 threw last year’s summer vacationing into a tailspin, and it appears that the summer of 2021 will also be strongly impacted. My fear is that all of the pent-up cabin fever will result in a too-quick opening for the summer which will result in a challenging return to school come September. Sadly, the government’s recent cabinet shake-up doesn’t suggest we can expect any improvement in support for schools this fall over last. That Delta variant is looming just out there on the periphery.

    I’ve had two summers now since retirement, with the third quickly approaching.
    The first summer I travelled to a number of Minecraft and Maker/Raspberry Pi events, visited my brother to celebrate his retirement, and drove out to BC and back.
    Last summer was pandemic-challenged, providing the opportunity to host a bunch of online coding workshops and the incentive for ECOO to organize the virtual #ECOOcamp Ontario 2020. The drive out to BC was deferred until late September, with the return journey on a plane.
    This summer sees the return of a second #ECOOcamp online conference, August 18-19, and some work writing some Minecraft courses. However, I’m going to put a couple of Ontario destinations on the map for the next couple of months.
    I’ve never been to Point Pelee. So I’m going to take a drive and walk to the end of the sand spit.
    It’s been years since I’ve been to Killarney. I’ve been to the top of Silver Peak once, and it’s time that I did the trip again. It’s been on my summer list for several years now.
    BC will be another road trip, once the second dose of COVID vaccine has had a chance to take hold. Probably late September again for that.

    Planning ahead is a great strategy — and it’s one of the things that has taken a bit of a hit with the on-again, off-again nature of the lock-downs due to COVID. Here’s hoping that this fall will see the return to more normal flow for things for everyone!


  3. My parents liked to switch things up, so although I have fond memories of trips around Ontario: Santa Claus’ Village, Six Gun City (I know, I don’t get it either. As a 9 year old I thought it was pretty cool, which I guess was the point.), the Scenic Caves with its ‘Fat Man’s Misery’ my father had to go around while the rest of us squeezed through, Blue Mountain Pottery, Sainte Marie Among the Hurons, Craigleith’s Shale Beach with its trilobite fossils and all the other Provincial Parks and summer camping – my best memories of those years are being piled into our 1964 Dodge Polara with no air conditioning and driving for five days to Banff, Alberta and then two summers later to P.E.I.

    I’ve done most of those things as an adult too, and they retained their charm and reminded me of a gentler, wonder-filled time.

    As a teenager it was almost full-time hours at McDonald’s saving for university and Teachers’ College while still seeing almost every concert I wanted in the States and baseball games at Tiger Stadium.

    The trips mentioned above were mostly repeated after I became a teacher, but only after teaching summer school or finishing AQ courses. One year my class bought me a cooler at the end of the course as a thank you and for regaling them with the story of what happens if you forget and leave a can of coke on the passenger seat in the summer sun…🙄

    Fond, fond memories all. Even the coke can now.

    Trips went much farther afield in more recent years: England on a Principal exchange and then a return visit to the people who’d become good friends; Belgium to visit our exchange son’s family twice and a former student who’d become a good friend after – and then a trip to north England to visit her and her new husband; The Netherlands twice to visit my first Principal who’d taken that position at the National Defence School.

    Since retirement though, those trips didn’t have to be sandwiched between finishing up the school year in mid-to-late July and prepping for the next in mid-to-sometimes early August.

    Throw in France, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg…

    Since Covid though, tending our garden and lawn and the occasional trips into the county, maybe just for the drive or to pick up a jar of Hawksview Honey. To be honest, those will be fond memories too.

    Thanks for the chance to remenisce.
    Things will return to ‘normal’, Doug.
    Summer vacation will become a thing again.

    Patience… The kind of patience you needed on a warm summer night, in a park by the river, sitting next to the girl who would become your wife… Just before you put your arm around her shoulder for the first time…

    Liked by 1 person

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