Summer officially arrived early Friday morning, but let's face it, none of us looks at the calendar and says June 20 or 21 is the start of the summer. Most people I know mark the beginning of summer by Memorial Day weekend or the day that school gets out for the academic year. Similarly, summer ends and fall begins when school returns the next academic year.


Summer officially arrived early Friday morning, but let's face it, none of us looks at the calendar and says June 20 or 21 is the start of the summer.



Most people I know mark the beginning of summer by Memorial Day weekend or the day that school gets out for the academic year. Similarly, summer ends and fall begins when school returns the next academic year.



Winter and spring become trickier to define, as they fall during the school year.



I've always paid attention to the seasons. I love winter in the mountains, where the cold slaps you in the face like a snowball. I also love the colors of spring and autumn in the mountains.



I tend to divide my world into football season, basketball season, baseball season and hurricane season. I enjoy busy football, basketball and baseball seasons, but my heart sinks at the thought of a busy hurricane season.



Hopefully, Okaloosa County and the surrounding areas won't be in a storm path this year. It would be nicer if every named storm blew harmlessly out while still at sea, and none of our neighbors anywhere in the country had to face nature's wrath.



As a kid, I always enjoyed the summer. Maybe that's because I wasn't a very good student and I've always preferred being outside playing than being cooped up inside hitting the books.



Driving around town the past few days, I've seen some moms with their kids at Twin Hills Park, but the local baseball fields, tennis courts and outdoor basketball courts are empty. And the local sports camps do a good job of getting the kids outside and playing, but it's not the same as it used to be.



There was a time when kids didn't need a controlled environment to encourage an active lifestyle or participation in sports. Back in the day, we would play ball from the early morning until late afternoon, only breaking for lunch.



If it got too hot, we might go inside for an hour or two to cool down, but those times were rare. We were lean, tanned and never worried about being overweight or overheated.



With all the talk in the news about childhood obesity being on the rise, there's no better time than summer for kids to get active.



In addition to playing baseball during the summer, I loved to ride my bicycle, climb trees, fish and swim when I was a kid. I even found time to go to the local tennis courts and hit a ball around with my buddies.



Some of my best memories of youth and dearest friendships forged were spent on endless days too quickly gone.



I know the world is different today than it was when I was a boy. Computer games and video games have replaced real baseball. And why should a kid go outside and sweat on the tennis court when you can play tennis in the comfort of your own home on your Wii?



Yes, summer and being a kid sure has changed a lot.



Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletinís sports editor. Email him at randyd@crestviewbulletin.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.