I grew up running around in a bathing suit and baseball cap. I had no problem leaving my house with no make-up (I still don't. Honestly, I like it because then if I meet a cute guy, I can just be like "it only gets better from here".) If I wasn't playing a game, I was bored. If it wasn't soccer, it was football, or whiffle ball, or jackpot, it was cards, or pictionary, or bananagrams, or basketball, or volleyball. My competitiveness was out of control in every way. My family is huge and tight-knit and someone was always around. My friends and I would lay out under the stars, talking for hours about if we believed in aliens or santa or true love. I would stay up all night just to catch some Z's on the boat the next day.
A typical day at the lake for me went like this: Wake up whenever my family started to get really loud (it's like a built in alarm clock... usually around 9:30). Roll out of bed and head downstairs. I would hear "well, good morning, sunshine! You're up early!" (Literally they have said that every single time I've woken up before noon since I was like 12.) I would sit down at the kitchen table with my mom drinking her coffee and my sister playing cards. My little cousins would be running around getting their bathing suits on ready to start the day. My dad would ask what I wanted for breakfast and he would make it for me.
After breakfast, we would all go outside and play a game. Kan-Jam, Cornhole, Polish Horseshoes, Ladder Toss, whatever it was. After a while of running around, we would come in for lunch and all sit with each other at the table. We would joke and laugh about anything and everything and probably get into some sort of debate about football. And my dad would say "who wants to go for a boat ride?!" and all of us would fly out the door to get life jackets and towels and head down to the boat and always wait like 30 minutes for everyone to actually get on the boat. We would tube until we had bloody knuckles and then come back in and tell my grandma the stories from the boat. We would find another game to play while dinner was being made. We would eat dinner, relax for a little bit, and then head outside to have a bonfire (with s'mores, of course). We would tell each other everything by that fire... everything from the latest drama with our friends and who everyone likes to the real cause of WW2 and what business we could/should start. One by one we would turn in for bed, and I was always one of the last ones out there. I never wanted to leave. I would sit and stare at the stars until the fire burnt out by itself.
And until the day I die, I will preach that I had the best childhood because of all of that. There's just something about growing up as a "lake kid". The things that I learned from growing up that way are endless, but I can try to name a few. I learned how to be independent. If I wanted something, there was a good chance I was getting it or doing it myself. I learned to help others, whether they ask for it or not. If my mom was carrying 8 life jackets on each arm and I didn't at least offer to help her, I wouldn't be the woman she raised me to be. I learned that kids are never too young to start learning. My grandpa started teaching me algebra by the time I was like, 6. I learned that the only thing that truly matters is your loved ones. Whether it be family or friends or your significant other, give them everything. Ask them how they are and what they've been up to and go out of your way to include them in things. Make them feel special because they deserve it. I learned how to tube and kneeboard and fish. If something was broken, I learned how to fix it (and sometimes it required getting really creative).
Growing up living the "lake life" teaches you a lot. But most importantly, it teaches you that a lot of what other people value does not matter. I value my goofiness and my ability to understand others. I value my friends and family. I value honesty and kindness. I value the little moments that slip by without many people noticing or remembering them.