Category Archives: Neighborhood

Huntopoly 3.0: A Technology-Aided Treasure Hunt

Some advocates of children’s outdoor play would have you believe that technology is the enemy. Kids who attended my fifth annual Camp Yale two weeks ago would vehemently disagree. They played Huntopoly 3.0 (here are articles on Huntopoly 2.0 and 1.0), which featured treasure boxes with some nifty electronics. Each team of kids got a “Quest Box,” that has a small LCD screen and button on the outside, and treasures and hunt instructions on the inside. Also on the inside, … Continue reading

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Choosing the Familiar Over the Optimal

Parents? Yawn. Relatives? Double-yawn. Neighbors? Pullllease!!! I remember very well thinking that way as an adolescent and young adult. I became critical of all the people I had been surrounded by throughout my childhood. That was mostly my parents, but it was also other relatives and neighbors. Instead, I resolved to choose who I spent time with. I discovered that I had very little in common with my parents, relatives, and neighbors. So, they became a low priority for me, … Continue reading

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Leaving Your Kids at the Park: A Good Idea for the 1%

Do your young kids live within one block of a park? My guess is that somewhere around 99% of kids don’t. The best data on this comes from the Centers for Disease Control, which claims that 80% of kids don’t live within a half mile of a park. The problem is, kids hardly roam anymore. Again, I don’t have precise data, but my anecdotal research indicates that the vast majority of kids in preschool aren’t allowed to roam on their … Continue reading

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How a Kid Masters His Neighborhood

Today, my son Marco (8) took Wayne, a school friend, to the house of Jacob, another school friend. Then, the three of them made their way to our house. They made this entire journey, 1-1/2 miles, without any adults involved, either in transporting or in planning, and Marco was the leader. And, they did it in the rain, with no raincoats. Marco can do all this on his own, too. In fact, he usually rides his bike home alone. This … Continue reading

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Huntopoly 2.0

A couple of weeks ago, kids played a new and improved version of Huntopoly, a neighborhood scavenger hunt game I created, at my neighborhood summer camp, Camp Yale. While most kids enjoyed version 1.0 last year, a few other kids lost interest and stopped playing. So, a couple of months ago, when I told my oldest son, Marco (7-1/2) that we were playing Huntopoly again at Camp Yale, he exclaimed, “Please, I don’t want to play Huntopoly again!” However, he … Continue reading

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Camp Yale Gets Better and Better

We just completed the fourth annual Camp Yale, our neighborhood summer camp. Every year it’s gotten better, and this year, it was downright euphoric. First and foremost, the kids had a wonderful time. Most of them said that to me directly and repeatedly. At least two parents told me this was their favorite camp ever. Beyond words, their actions spoke volumes. They yelled and screamed and ran every day. They stayed past the end of camp each day, and often … Continue reading

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Our Neighborhood Magician

We have a magician in our neighborhood. His name is Hugh, The Magic Beard. Kids around here call him Huey. In most neighborhoods, people wouldn’t notice him, or if they did, they’d notice him for his long beard and sixties-hippy appearance. However, this is Northern California, home of the Grateful Dead. We’ve all seen many folks who look like Hugh around here. On the other hand, because my family and I have invested extra time in our neighborhood, we’ve gotten … Continue reading

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Kids Don’t Want Privacy – They Want Playmates!

Most children, particularly young ones, don’t care at all about privacy in their yards. Rather, they want to play, and when they reach a certain age, they’re very keen to find playmates to share in their play.  Most parents ignore this fact when they erect high bushes and fences for privacy. Melissa Wardy’s family in Janesville, Wisconsin, proves that letting the world see and hear you improves your family’s social life.  They live on a corner bordering two busy roads, … Continue reading

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Retail Shops Are Part of Marco’s Village

Marco (7) walked into our local bike shop, Menlo Velo, through the back door, with his bike today. Christian, an employee there, said, “Hi, Marco!” as soon as he walked in. I got there first and was waiting for him. You see, I had him ride from our house to there to meet me. I asked Christian to reattach a part for the speedometer we bought there a few months back. He grabbed Marco’s bike and started working on it … Continue reading

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Frank the Builder Builds Community

Frank Shields is a builder, in more ways than one. He’s largely responsible for building an extraordinary culture on his block over the past twenty plus years using a combination of friendliness, fearlessness, wood, nails, a power saw, and Visqueen. You see, when he’s away from his block working, Frank’s a contractor, and “Visqueen” is one of the common tools of his trade. I’d never heard of it when I first talked to Frank about his Dibble Avenue block, between … Continue reading

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