I am from Generation X, and growing up in the 80s was a totally different ball game than the one the kids today are playing. After someone asked an online forum of Boomers and Gen X what they did in the summers as a teen, here are their top confessions.
1. Hanging Out at the Arcade
Numerous people relate to hanging out at the arcade all day during the summertime. Games like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Missile Command had these members shoving their pockets full of quarters.
2. Riding Bikes
When I was a kid growing up in the 80s, I lived outside with most of my generation, and we rode bikes. Not just to the end of the street with Mommy and Daddy watching. We were instructed to be back before the street lights came on and given free rein of the town. Exploring was one of my favorite activities.
Countless individuals regale stories about swimming in the summer. From having their own to braving the community pool, our generations swam. My sister and I got the same plastic fold-out pool with sea creatures on the side from K-Mart every year and lived in it all summer. “Marco!” “Polo!” Going to the lake was a fun weekend activity too.
4. Running Through the Sprinkler
Do kids do this anymore? When pool time wasn’t an option, running through the sprinkler was the perfect way to cool off on a hot day. We would spend hours running and jumping through it.
5. Hanging Out at the Roller Skating Rink
Do you remember cooling off in the air conditioning at the local skating rink during the summer? It’s where we all went to hang out and flirt with our crushes, eat pizza, sip soda, and roller skate, of course. Several people admit they skateboarded, while others enjoyed rollerblades.
6. Reading Books
Another activity our generations embraced during the summer was reading. We would ride our bikes to the libraries and check out new books. It was the answer to “I’m bored,” leading us to experience wonderful stories.
7. Going to the Park
Several people reminisce about going to the park during the summertime. I loved going because our park had a petting zoo. I would ride my bike to it nearly every day to pet the bunnies and the goats. Other boomers and Gen Xers in the forum share they grew up on farms and spent a lot of time with the animals in the summer.
8. Talking on the Phone
Did everyone have a phone hanging from their wall with an extra-long cord? I lived on the telephone when Dad was at work — so much so that I remember him getting upset that he had been trying to call and was getting a busy signal for hours.
9. Playing Games Outside
All of the neighborhood kids lived outside in the summertime. So often, we would get together and play games like kick the can, capture the flag, hide-and-seek on bikes, and tag — you’re it! Playing flashlight tag at night was a special occasion.
10. Going to the Mall
Going to the mall used to be a cool thing to do. My teenager actively enjoys it, so I don’t know if this ever went away. Nonetheless, walking with your girlfriends and checking out the boys checking you out was a thing.
Mandatory walkthroughs included Sam Goody, Deb, Rave, Suncoast Video, Claires, and Spencer Gifts, and an Orange Julius was a must. But I always opted for strawberry.
11. Attending Summer Camp
Numerous forum members had the joy of attending camp in the summer. I spent a couple of years as a kid at Shiloh Bible Camp in Cosmopolis, Washington, and it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. However, by their teens, many admit they were camp counselors and not camper themselves.
12. Working Summer Jobs
Did you work a summer job? I did the fast food thing, but many forum members shared that they mowed lawns, dug ditches, babysat, and worked in movie theaters.
13. Hanging Out in the Woods
One of the best things to do in the summertime was to ride our bikes to the woods. I lived by a place called “Spook Woods,” so there were stories about it to go along with hanging out there. It also had tons of hills set up for a BMX riding course that the neighborhood created.
Sunbathing was an activity that involved baby oil and Sun-In hair lightener spray. We would spend hours baking ourselves for a golden tan. Do not recommend, and swap the baby oil for sunscreen.
We did housework, otherwise known as chores. We were latchkey kids, and our parents expected the house to be clean when they got home. This included laundry, dishes, scrubbing toilets, vacuuming, dusting, and even cooking.
16. Played Video Games
Several people in the thread had gaming systems like Atari and Sega, but I lived on Nintendo. Our generation spent hours on Super Mario Bros., Contra, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, Tetris, Bubble Bobble, and Zelda.
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Times have changed since I was a latchkey kid fending for myself and spending the majority of my life outdoors. Kids today have no idea about anything from my childhood today. After someone asked a Gen X forum, “What are the most Gen X things ever?” They responded with a nice trip down memory lane.
Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.