Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

To Get the Gear to Have the Fun, You Gotta Pay to Play

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

To Get the Gear to Have the Fun, You Gotta Pay to Play

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Longenecker, Shorelines columnist

"A guy bragged about paying $400 for a putter," said Mike Whisnant, who's been making surfboards at the Beaches for 31 years. Mike was then really surprised at his unhappy reaction to being quoted $600 for a custom-made longboard.

This week's column begins a short series about the cost of fun for some challenging beach life activities. Surfing, biking and kayaking are fun, challenging ways to enjoy our area under one's own power. Spring is the time to learn new stuff. These skills can travel with you to exotic locales.

Fun makes work life bearable. Several years ago, my column pointed out that we spend time and money. We determine how they are spent. TV comes "free," right out of air with seven channels, yet people pay for cable TV so they can spend even more time being even more sedentary. Then they complain about the cost of real useful "toys" like that custom surfboard!

A father and his two very young sons were demonstrating pure play one recent Saturday afternoon on Seventh Street in Jacksonville Beach. They were prancing around a sprinkler chasing a Frisbee under a shady oak. Big smiles on their faces hinted at their pure joyful pleasure. It was "age appropriate" fun. The boys were maybe 2 and 3. The father will also remain young if he can continue to enjoy his children in play.

These three activities are examples of my "play for a lifetime" philosophy that can be enjoyed by parents with their children for many years. "With" means that both young and older-than-young can do them together.

That philosophy is not the same as a parent coaching a youth league sport played only by the children. That is often a stress-inducing relationship. The coaches rarely benefit from the exercise and fun of play. Youth leagues require a bureaucracy that takes time and money for administration, which may take some away the simple joy of playing. (Both are spent!)

Activities that allow parents and children to enjoy each other's company as mutual participants can keep families close as the children grow. The goal of my series is to help readers understand why quality "toys" cost what they do and help readers understand and appreciate correct equipment choices. …

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