Long ago, and far away from my suburban living, I lived in Merrillville, Indiana. At the time, Merrillville, on the edge of Chicago's airwaves, was a steelworkers' town, cut in half by a dingy street called Broadway. I went to junior high and high school in Merrillville, but our family lived in nearby (then) rural Crown Point. (Both towns were also, but this is another musing), the two most racist towns I'd ever known.)
I thought about those days again when I watched Gregory Peck in Academy Award winning To Kill A Mockingbird. Although set in 1932, the film's Southern town (also racist, of course) reminded me of my growing up years when summers were spent digging in dirt, exploring local (dirty) creeks, and pulling endless weeds from my mother's vegetable garden. (Yikes, I hated that chore.) And, like Mockingbird's young stars Scout and Jem, I had hours and hours of aimless, entertain-myself time.
Decades later, children in average small-city America are more likely to be in pricey hermetically sealed summer programs than they are to be experiencing hours and hours of aimless discoveries.
I do not think society is the better for it.