We are nearing the end of summer vacation and I’ve had a lot of great moments with my kids. I am, however, not one of those parents who longs for summer vacation to last forever. I’ll be ready to turn them back over to the professionals next week and I’ll do my best to follow along with the list of requests to parents — nut-free snacks and all.

Growing up, my experience was different than the one my kids are having, and I enjoy telling them all about it. My dad lived on Spruce Street and my mom was in Union, almost all the way to Washington and a stone’s throw from Burketville. We got one channel on the television — sometimes two if we held the bunny ears just right — and my sister Kristen and I would take turns being the one to hold them in place while the other kept an eye out for my mom.

There was absolutely no television watching allowed during daylight hours and my mom made the occasional threat of getting rid of the ponies if we didn’t do our fair share of the barn work.

Still, we sometimes could get away with catching a few minutes of “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman” during the transition time between school and barn chores. Today’s equivalent of this hack takes the form of bypassing the parental controls on digital devices in my household. My 12-year-old is a master at it, and when he succeeds, it’s not “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman” he’s after, but Tik Tok, SnapChat, and YouTube.

Kids will be kids, and kids these days like to watch YouTube videos of other people playing and commenting on video games. This can’t be good, can it? I try to be open minded and I don’t believe in sheltering them from everything, but you have to draw the line somewhere, and I still find “Grand Theft Auto” just as cringe worthy as I did when I was in high school. You have to draw the line somewhere and I’m going with my gut on this one.

Minecraft is a little — OK, a lot — better, but where are the rules about not building houses in the ocean? I want to like that game because of the three-dimensional building aspect of it, but it’s still hard to see how kids are learning to be better members of society by playing it. A few simple adjustments to remind players about the carbon footprints of what they are building or the habitat implications of filling in the ocean with structures would go a long way!

Today, the collective concern seems to be kids spending too much time in front of a screen. When I was a kid, the adults, at least in Camden, were concerned kids were spending too much time downtown.

Endless meetings and policies were implemented to deal with the problem of loitering teenagers. By some accounts, skateboarders had taken over the town, and congregating in parking lots, the Village Green, and Harbor Park, was a problem that demanded increased police presence.

It’s kind of funny to think about all the talking we’ve done over the past decade about attracting young families to Camden and not wanting to turn into a retirement community like some other coastal towns. The pendulum seems to swing back and forth on this one. We like the idea of a youthful and vibrant town, but we’d like the kids to use their inside voices, and we want them to play the same games we remember from our own childhoods.

I’ve been letting my 12-year-old go fishing down at the Public Landing over the summer. The best time to catch stripers has often been late at night. Most of the time I join him, filming fish underwater in one little alcove while he and his friends fish in another part. You can see the joy it gives to tourists and locals alike to watch kids engaging in one of the few pastimes that is truly timeless. Sometimes I even let him walk or ride his bike back home by himself. It’s not far.

When I was his age and a little older, I don’t think I would have gotten away with it due to the strictly enforced curfew. No one was allowed around the library or Harbor Park after dark as part of a crack down on vandalism and loitering, and a strict curfew of 10 p.m. was enforced for anyone under the age of 13. I think it was 11 p.m. for the 13-18 year old group.

The curfew ordinance was passed in 1961 by town voters and a horn would go off at 9:45 p.m. as a warning. I remember sneaking out of my house with high school friends past curfew just for the thrill of it, plotting our routes to a central meeting place, hiding in the bushes from police officers driving by as we giggled uncontrollably.

To me, this was good, clean fun, and a part of normal development. My son and his friends do not know about Camden’s curfew — I’m not actually sure if it’s still on the books — but I do warn them they need to be on their best behavior fishing down at the Public Landing after dark, recounting the days when chasing kids away from parking lots was a high police priority. Don’t wake the sleeping bear of Camden’s downtown elite or they will start complaining about too many kids on the Landing again!

There was a time when parents and town leaders may have been delighted to have their kids safe at home communicating over an online platform rather than congregating at the Amphitheater or the Public Landing, but we’ve come full circle. I can confidently say yes to night fishing with friends and I’m much less concerned about a curfew violation than the early onset of a social media addiction.

Alison McKellar is a Camden resident and Select Board Vice-Chair. Her views are her own and do not reflect those of the Select Board or the editorial position of The Camden Herald. We welcome letters and guest columns reflecting other viewpoints via editor@villagesoup.com.

Night fishing at the Public Landing in Camden. Photo by Alison McKellar.