Roam Where You Want To

We walked to the Memorial Day parade this morning. That was fun, though the posted speed limit on Beekman-Poughquag Road should be lowered by about 10 to 15 mph. We had a good time at the parade. The kids didn’t pay much attention to the speechifying afterwards — too busy playing with their friends. All Smoked Up was there, so I had a pulled pork sandwich.

But I got to thinking, how far do kids normally walk? Today we walked about 1.5 miles from our house to town hall, and back. At DisneyWorld we probably walked a good 15 miles per day, at least. It takes a little longer, about 30 minutes instead of 5, though with 4 kids a 5 minute jaunt rapidly turns into a 30 minute expedition.

I ran across “How Children Lost the Right to Roam in Four Generations,” via Free Range Kids, which had this neat map showing the different ranges that four generations roamed when they were eight years old. The great-grandfather walked six miles on his own. The grandfather walked one. The mother walked a half, and the son walks 300 yards, barely. That’s a shame.

I have a brother, so I was never truly alone. But I recall when I was a wee tot, before we moved to Ohio when I was five, that we’d walk down the farm lane to the pond to go swimming. It was just a short walk. (I can’t quite locate it for certain on this map, but if my guess is correct it was only 1100 feet.) In Ohio, we went alone to the woods to hunt for stuff, to the park to play ball, to the newstand for comics, over to our friends’ houses, and to the pool with our friends — we had to go with them; they were members. From one house, we roamed this range.

By the time we left town, our range had expanded. We were older, and had bicycles.

Would we let our kids roam that far? Maybe when they are older. Maybe by then the roads between our house and their grandmother’s will have sidewalks, and a speed limit lower than a superhighway’s. And then they can bike the three miles on their own.

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