There are only two ways in and out of Malibu, so if you drive through the canyon enough, you notice certain things, like the Bonsai man or the strawberry stands or the female body builder who is maybe the slowest runner ever.
And in the summer, you notice the buses, yellow school buses with paper taped over the word ‘school’. Some even have a fancy magnetic replacement sign marking their new function– Beach Bus.
For $2 each way, these buses shuttle riders from the canyon to the beach and back again.
Any time I see a Beach Bus, I feel a little proud of our town. There’s something nostalgic about teens heading to the beach for the day on their own.
I load all this meaning onto that bus–freedom and play, exploration and independence. Kids are expected to stay closer to home than before, but in the summer our community gives them a safe way to venture just a little bit further.
A report from over 20 years ago noted how children’s radius of activity–how far they are allowed to venture from home–had shrunk over 90% compared to 1971. The classic example is that of George Thomas and his descendants. Whereas Thomas roamed up to 6 miles from home on his own in 1926. In 2007, his great-grandson was afforded 300 yards of his own.
There are lots of reasons for this, many of them good. But there is also a shadow side, including the introduction of something called, I kid you not, Nature Deficit Disorder.
The Beach Bus is this tiny tangible way that kids get to venture out on their own, encounter creation, savor summertime. Long live summer.