Recess for Adults | Eastern North Carolina Now

Kathy Manos Penn with Lord Banjo
    An article about this phenomenon caught my attention, and yes, it made me laugh. Adults are paying to participate in Adult Recess. Atlanta wasn't mentioned in the article, but the trend surfaced here as part of the Home Depot Backyard on the Georgia World Congress Center Authority's downtown Atlanta campus. Summer events included health and wellness courses, Adult Recess, The Happiest Hour, Super Saturday, and Sunday Funday.

    The site didn't describe the activities, but kickball, hopscotch, and tetherball were included in other cities. I imagine three-legged races and tug-of-war can be found too. The possibilities are endless, as are I would think, the injuries. Perhaps because I was never particularly athletic as a child, I don't have a yearning to play any of these games.

    The indoor counterparts across the nation hold more appeal for me. Some offer Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, and Playdoh. I certainly didn't excel at any of those activities, but I enjoyed them. I much preferred board games as a kid so if Monopoly, Operation, and Clue were on offer, I might have to sign up. That preference probably explains my adult enjoyment of Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble and Words with Friends.

    One article suggests that the need for adult recess arises from the fact that fewer twenty-somethings are having kids. The writer thinks people who have children get to play these games with their families and don't require a scheduled paid event. Funny, I never had kids but I don't remember ever having a craving for recess-beyond taking vacations.

    The article triggered a fond memory for me, that of a bicycling vacation many years ago. My friend Beverly and took several trips with Vermont Bicycle Tours, and on one trip, there were only nine of us in contrast to the typical 15 or so, and there were no couples. The size and makeup of the group somehow changed the whole dynamic.

    We likened the experience to summer camp. One day, we stopped at a park and played on the swings and the slides. On another, we ate our picnic lunch in a field and built a human pyramid. I can't recall doing that before or since. I can still see and hear one group member as he broke into song coasting down a hill. The song? "The Hills are Alive" from the Sound of Music.

    When I think back to that trip, I remember the one person who seemed stressed and cranky was the fifteen-year-old who accompanied his entrepreneur dad. The rest of us, adult professionals, were happy as larks.

    Perhaps this teenager didn't want to be on a trip with his dad, but I suspect his behavior wasn't as much due to that circumstance as it was part of a pattern. Who knows what triggered it, but one day he had a temper tantrum, lifted his bicycle over his head, threw it on the ground, and walked away.

    The odd behavior that his father made light of was the boy's habit of unraveling his socks. He'd sit at dinner, with one hand beneath the table, and he'd slowly unravel his shin-high athletic socks. You're probably thinking, as I did, that his behavior had to be indicative of some deeper issue. Who knows? I do know they packed enough socks that he could throw them away daily.

    I see him as a prime candidate for adult recess. Me? I'll continue enjoying recess in weeklong chunks called vacations. Right now, I'm dreaming of another biking vacation or maybe just a few hours on the Greenway. What does recess look like for you?

    Kathy is a Georgia resident. Find her books "The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday" and "Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch" on Amazon. Contact her at, and follow her on Facebook,
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