Having lived on a private ranch until the age of 7, I experienced ultimate freedom. I could roam the hills with my siblings and cousins all day without adults. We didn't have cell phones, nor did we even so much as carry a whistle with us to alert others should we come upon danger. We were young, careless explorers conquering the Hill Country day by day: building forts, riding horses, learning how to work together, and most of all, forming the bonds of a lifetime.
Much of that style of upbringing has changed, if not disappeared altogether. While my family is only just beginning to enter the playdate culture, we are privy to the rules of modern-day get-togethers for kids: Gone are the days of knocking on a neighbor's door to see if a friend can join you for an adventure in the neighboring woods. Everything is prearranged, organized, and supervised.
Daddy blogger Clint Edwards ponders the impacts of the shift away from unsupervised time for children in his story in the Washington Post, "Lessons from the Goonies and the Loss of Unsupervised Time for Kids."