In the last month, my kids fly-fished, played baseball, hiked, identified wildflowers, learned about shopping for back-to-school clothes on a budget, identified native plants, went to story hour and camped out.
No, I’m not some sort of uber-Mom with myriad skills I can impart to my kids or limitless time to orchestrate and execute these enrichment activities. Rather, my family has the extremely good fortune to live in a small town where the adults care about the children so much that they share their most precious resource – their time.
For those of you in the carpool lane like me, you may be well acquainted with the dozens and dozens of people who enrich kids’ lives in Johnson County. But, if you’re not in that circuit, perhaps you wouldn’t know that the youth baseball/softball program, which involves hundreds of kids from ages 5 to 18, is entirely run and coached by volunteers. Generous parent volunteers organize the schedule and teams, coach teams, arrange tournaments and fundraise to support the program.
Despite being a farming community, 4-H wasn’t a very big deal where I grew up, so I really had no idea what the program involved (my best guess was steers and sewing projects). But now we have two enthusiastic 4-H’ers and one more who can’t wait for her turn. Our daughter does fabric and fashion, photography, veterinary science and horticulture. Our son does sport fishing, food and nutrition, and horticulture. Nearly 300 local kids are enrolled in Johnson County 4-H, and there is something for every kid’s interest – entomology, robotics, leatherwork, shooting sports, cake decorating, and the list goes on.
Our youngest two are frequent users of the Boys & Girls Club of the Big Horns, and the wonderful folks over there run a fantastic program – they do not receive enough kudos for the yeoman’s work they do day in and day out. Each day this summer they’ve cared for about 50 kids, and these kids are kept busy. The club gives kids the kind of summer that you want for your kids: plenty of fresh air, lots of time to play games like baseball and tag, adventures in the Bighorn Mountains and time to read. Scott Musselman has assembled a fantastic team of people who care for those kids and are dedicated to their well-being.
These are just a small handful of the organizations our family comes into contact with frequently, there are dozens more – scouting organizations, club sports, weekly rodeos. What this means for families like mine is that we have a lot of support in raising our kids. I couldn’t possibly put a dollar figure on what it means as a mom to know that our kids are nurtured and supported, because we couldn’t possibly do this alone.