Summer activities have changed for today’s youth 

Shaun Scott, Wright Kansas, showing his market steer at the Sunflower Showdown Livestock Show in Garden City, Kansas, June 1. (Photo by Haven Johnson.)

I didn’t play sports when I was in middle or high school. We rodeoed, we were in 4-H and participated in livestock judging contests. When my son asked about playing middle school football last year, it was a little bit of a learning curve for me.  

One activity students were encouraged to do was participate in summer strength and conditioning for about six weeks. This was a little disappointing for my oldest son since the kid lives to go with his dad and do farm stuff. He survived, and when it was time to sign up for 2024, he wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic, but with some encouragement from his parents, he signed up again.  

This year my son has been all about working at brandings his dad has been invited to. He can do nearly all the jobs, and he has gotten pretty good. He’s even helped gather the cattle on horseback this year a couple of times, so the kid has gotten a little bit of a workout before he’s been to the first session.  

I’ve heard stories of high school kids finding farm jobs so they can stay in shape during the summer, stacking hay, working in the fields, doing other manual labor tasks that will earn them a tan and toned body. Youth today, I think, are so far removed from the farm or ranch in many cases that farm work just isn’t the norm anymore.  

After my son’s first strength and conditioning session, he went immediately to work helping his dad finish our set of pipe pens at the house. He was out there most of the day and, honestly, I was a bit surprised he lasted as long as he did. On our way home from town I told him he needed to move around and keep his muscles from getting sore. For the most part it worked, and he only complained a little bit about being sore those first few days.  

There’s no question farm or ranch work is manual labor. From pounding posts to stacking hay to working cattle, it’s all hard work. This kid of mine is all about work and enjoys being outside. His mind is constantly working, trying to find the next task he can do.  

Don’t get me wrong. Competing in athletic events and being part of a team is valuable to making youth well-rounded individuals. They can see the improvement in their bodies and skills throughout a season, and even if they don’t get to see much playing time, they’re still learning how to encourage each other and learn patience as they sit on the bench.  

Regular exercise can help improve sleep, reduce anxiety and improve mood, as well as tone muscles, help the heart stay healthy and many more things. Plus, when outdoors, people get a healthy dose of vitamin D from the sunshine. So why not do a little farm or ranch work while getting the body moving? 

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].

PHOTO: Shaun Scott, Wright Kansas, showing his market steer at the Sunflower Showdown Livestock Show in Garden City, Kansas, June 1. (Photo by Haven Johnson.)