One of the blogs I regularly read is Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids. She debunks a lot of the unreasonable fears that parents have these days and advocates for letting kids grow up the way we used to, without having parents constantly hovering and directing their lives.
She recently highlighted “The Creek Boys of Raleigh” and it shows, that given a chance, kids do still go barefoot.
The blog post The Amazing Childhood Our Kids Can Have if Only We Let Go a Little highlights a slide show from an architect in Raleigh, NC, Tina Govan. It’s just a reel of pictures from when her kids and a bunch of neighboring kids grew up.
After school, they’d go play in a nearby creek. They’d be responsible for organizing things and for looking out after each other. Since we’re told that one of the boys is now twenty, I’d guess the early pictures are from about 10 years ago.
I’m not saying they always went barefoot. It’s just that, often they did, if they were playing close to the water. And you didn’t get folks freaking out about it.
Playing in the water? Of course you go barefoot.
They are learning not just how to be independent, but how to use their bodies in ways beyond “structured play”. They are probably also learning that the current mythos of bare feet being dangerous is unjustified.
Of course you go barefoot when rafting.
Here’s the whole video. A lot of it does not have the kids barefoot (but that’s not the point). My point is that, when given the choice, and in the right environment, often the shoes come off, and the kids survive that just fine.
(Note. The video starts out silent.)