Good Marksmanship

I think I’ve held a bow and arrow once in my whole life. It was at a nature camp I attended around fourth grade. I can’t remember if I was any good at shooting it, but I know I enjoyed it. I liked the way the arrow zipped out and up into the air, and it made me feel like Robin Hood. For a suburban girl growing up in an apartment, that was pretty cool.

And I think that’s a big point of the summer camp experience. It gets kids out of their comfort zone. New people, new place, new activities.

In this edition of Metro Parent, we highlight the increased trend in archery camps. It seemed like a perfect departure from modern life for kids. After all, it’s the opposite of most kids’ daily lives, taking place in wide open spaces instead of cooped up game rooms. It’s totally tech free with no screens or joysticks. And it sharpens a child’s balance, focus and coordination. Get more details on page 40.

I may not have the most vivid memories of archery, but that’s not the case for the subject of another feature in this month’s issue: 10 classic books that build a kid’s character. I was definitely a little bookworm growing up. I loved a day spent binge reading (this was before Netflix, after all). And the books I read really affected my mind and, yes, my soul.

One book, which is not mentioned in our list, has had a profound effect on me – good and frankly not-so-good. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein established a fear I still hold today of taking advantage of others. I didn’t want to be the greedy boy who spent a lifetime taking from the “giving tree.” And, to this day, if I had to choose between the selfless tree or the thoughtless boy, I’d rather be the tree every time. The flipside, and perhaps less healthy attribute, is that I got really attached to inanimate objects as a kid. When I came home from school in second grade and discovered my parents sold the family car (a blue VW bug I named “Blueberry”), I cried myself to sleep imagining “Blueberry” afraid and hurt that he was parked in some lonely parking lot in some strange place. Frankly, I still get a little attached to things that I know (in my head) don’t have feelings. But in my heart, I’m still partly that 6-year-old girl. I imagine that other soft-hearted kids have been affected the same way by books like The Giving Tree or movies like Toy Story. And while I was a bit dramatic and irrational at 6, in the end I’m still a kinder, more thoughtful adult as a result of The Giving Tree and many other beautiful books.

Check out the list of character-building books and see if a book that made its mark on you is included. No bow or arrow needed.

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