Growing up near the beach
Beach adventures were a big part of my childhood. I spent many long days swimming, sunbaking and exploring with friends and siblings at the beach no more than 500 metres from home. Generally, the instruction was to be home by tea time so, on our long summer holidays, we could spend as much time on the beach as we liked.
It wasn’t the most beautiful of beaches. The sand was coarse and yellow and the shore rocky in places. The water was often filled with jellyfish and seaweed. The narrow beach was edged by tall red cliffs which prompted Captain James Cook to name the area Redcliffe when he passed by in 1770. But we loved it anyway.
There were huge cotton trees, as perfect for climbing as the red cliffs were for scaling, and a playground with swings and slides, many of which are no longer considered child-safe. But we survived.
We’d explore the rocks for sea life, avoiding the jellyfish and seaweed as best we could, both in and out of the water. We’d play in the water and on the sand and lie on our towels talking, laughing and dreaming of whatever we did as children back then.
It may sound idyllic and perhaps it was, though to us, it just was. Most of us are now paying for those long days at the beach with sun damaged skin. If anyone was aware of the dangers of being too long in the sun back then, we certainly weren’t. We considered a bad dose of sunburn as nothing more than inconvenient and we took turns to peel layers of skin off each other’s backs when the blisters burst.
Nowadays, my beach adventures are mostly confined to observations of sparkling white sands and perfect blue water from a shady deck with a cool drink in hand. However, I may venture out for a stroll in the late afternoon when the sun’s light has dimmed, leaving the water and sky to meet and greet in shades of pink and lilac.
Our Australian culture has a love-hate relationship with the beach and sunshine. At the first hint of warm summer weather, we’ll be told it’s a great day for the beach and we’ll be presented with images of beaches crowded with sunbathers. On another occasion, we’ll be advised to stay out of the sun and avoid the damage to our skin. Queensland is, after all, the skin cancer capital of the world. I’ve never figured out why we don’t get a more sensible approach that combines enjoyment with safety.
But let’s not dwell too long on the negatives. Hopefully now with better education and the availability of protective products, the younger generation will not be so nonchalant about time spent in the sun.
A beach excursion
A beach excursion, whether with school or family, presents as many opportunities for learning as it does for fun. There are phenomena to inspire wonder and stimulate curiosity, and countless questions to ask and answers to discover; for example,
Ten beach-inspired questions
- What makes the waves?
- Why does the tide come in and out?
- How is sand made?
- Where do the shells come from?
- Why does the sand squeak when we walk on it?
- What lives in the ocean?
- Why should we take our rubbish home with us or put it in a bin?
- How do fish breathe?
- What made these tracks on the sand?
- My sandcastle was here this morning. What happened to it?
Some answers can be discovered through investigation and exploration at the beach. Others require research.
Three fun beach activities that involve learning
Shells are not only fun to collect, they are great for sorting and counting, measuring and making, creating patterns and trading.
Fish might be fun to catch (for some); but they can also be identified, measured and weighed. Children can research the different types of fish and regulations for catching them.
Photographs provide a great record of beach adventures. Children can be encouraged to compile them and write a recount or report about the outing.
And of course, there are always wonderful books to read about the beach; such as:
Ten beach or ocean themed picture books
The Magic Beach by Alison Lester
Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker
Circle by Jeannie Baker
The Hidden Forest by Jeannie Baker
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
One Less Fish by Kim Michelle Toft
Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle Toft
Neptune’s Nursery by Kim Michelle Toft
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Beach-inspired flash fiction
I was taken back to the beach this week by the challenge set by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about sea mist. How does it create an environment for a story? It can set the stage or take the stage. Go where the prompt leads.
This is my response. I hope you like it.
Canned Sea Mist
No more than a hint of sea spray and she was flown back on wings of joy to carefree childhood days frolicking in the shallows, basking on golden sands, fossicking for hints of life in rockpools and amassing precious collections of shells and other treasures arranged for her pleasure by the tide. Lulled by a gentle breeze and waves whispering a heart’s rhythm, she dozed, uninterrupted by seagulls squawking, murmured conversations, hushed laughter, or the shuffle of approaching and receding footsteps. As the sun glowed bright above, she sighed her last, now and forever one with the sea’s mist.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.