Getting the most out of summer

By Jeff Smith


Hiking, biking, campfires, being outside until late at night— these are some of the perks summer has to offer. I’m not one for fireworks or swimming but I do like to do a lot of things that a person can only do in the summertime.

Vacations usually only happen in the summer unless you are lucky enough to head south for the winter.

Not everyone has what we have here in the Black Hills. I can pretty much go outside and go for a pretty good walk or bike ride at any time of the day. I am also not working away my summer which is what a lot of people do.

Since I don’t usually work on the weekend I was able to go to one of my favorite events of the summer: Hills Alive.

It was this last weekend and it is one of the best events in the Rapid City area. I don’t say that just because I am a Christian. My taste in music varies but I am more apt to like a song if it has meaningful lyrics.

I have spent some time at Hills Alive in one way or another for the past six years.

It’s not an excuse for Christians to cut loose and listen to raucous music and get rowdy. When I was there I looked around I saw that people were able to connect with God in a big way. It was significant to me because a lot of times I am not able to have a religious experience while listening to Christian music. Sometimes I feel closer to God in nature than in listening to worship music.

I kind of bemoaned the summer heat when I went to Hills Alive but I was glad to be somewhere that gave people a chance to grow their faith. It was still a good day and I think every year there are more people there.

This past weekend I also went to Memorial Park to take photos of the Hill City Youth Athletics coach pitch games. I think I tried tee ball when I was little but it wasn’t something that I really grasped onto. Even if baseball or softball isn’t something the children do in the future it is something they will remember, and helps them learn the importance of accountability when they are on a team. Learning fundamental skills in a variety of things is very important. Even though I was never that involved in sports, I always realized the importance fundamentals have in developing skills. It’s important to remember what you first learned in order to become a leader in a sport or activity. Even though mistakes are going to be made and competition is going to get tougher as a person grows up, practicing fundamentals will get people to a place of excellence.  Since high school, my focus was always on academics, but I still remember the days of playing basketball and soccer as a child.

I may not always have always enjoyed summer. I feel like there is a lot of pressure to have fun over the summer break as a child.

A lot of my summer days were spent helping my parents and taking care of  my 4-H swine. But I think as a child all you really need to have fun and stay cool in the summer is a garden hose.

I was always spraying down my pigs, and when I was little, I would run through it when there was a sprinkler head on the hose.

A lot of people think  children need to go to water parks during the summer or amusement parks in order to have fun. I did go to some of those growing up, but I think I remember the days playing basketball or riding around the neighborhood on my bicycle the most. There is so much to do during the summer whether you are a farmer or a business owner. A person should still enjoy the small things like a cool summer breeze or watching children play in a garden hose.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan has a joke about how in winter people look at summer with such reverence. The joke being someone looking at a family picture and someone saying they were a happier family back then. It is funny although there is some truth to it because the best family photos are taken in summer.

I think the point is that summer needs to be enjoyed when it is there. There are so many people who live on flat plains with not near the amount of lakes and streams we have in the area. So take time to soak in all that is around you, whether it is a free concert or children playing baseball.