WARRENSBURG - With the national TeeVee Turnoff week concluding last Sunday, Warrensburg Elementary students in Carolyn Cyr's fourth grade class talked Monday about their experiences with darkened screens at home.
Ben Jenks said at his mother and stepdad's house, the entire family gave up television cold-turkey for a week, and he and his sister read books, jumped on a trampoline and played outside to fill their spare time.
But the highlight of the week, he said, was when the whole household - adults and children - all enjoyed a squirt-gun battle, he said.
"My stepdad won the fight - he climbed a tree and shot me through the tree-fort window," he said with enthusiasm.
Samantha Brandt also convinced her mom Charlotte Haskell and stepdad Mike Pate to give up television for a week, the fourth-grader said.
"Almost every night after my homework was done, we went outside and had a campfire," she said. "It was cool."
Marissa Ray of Warrensburg also said she had fun.
"I played all kinds of stuff - I climbed a tree, and I haven't done that for years."
Jarod West of Warrensburg also said he enjoyed the break from television, which for decades has nationally dominated children's lives and raised alarm with psychologists, doctors and therapists.
At the home of his after-school caregiver this past week, Jarod drew pictures and played in the yard while other youngsters watched television inside.
But at home, Jarod had the real fun. One of the evenings, he recruited neighborhood kids for a game of "Manhunt," he said.
"When we tracked down somebody, we chucked water balloons at them," he said, grinning. Neighbor Dean Moore, a naturalist, got involved in the fun too, teaching the kids how best to climb trees and how to make bird calls, Jarod said. On the weekend, Jarod went four-wheeling and helped his mom Lee West build a patio with bricks, he said.
"It was kinda easy to give up teevee," he said.
Emma Feiden also had no problem ditching the tube.
Like the rest of the residents of Thurman, she has no cable service at home. So she gave up the related pastime of DVD-watching - a routine of hers before bedtime, she said.
"I had a good time helping my grandpa plant potatoes, squash, cucumbers and beans in his garden," she said.
While Thurman residents have no cable or cell phone signals to keep them occupied, Warrensburg is connected with all kinds of broadcast methods.
Heather Wood said giving up television was no hardship - she turned to another electronic device.
"My dad bought me minutes on my cell phone, so with the teevee off, I texted a lot to my friends on my phone, or I was on the computer," she said. "Mom didn't watch teevee either - except for the news."
Down the hall, elementary teacher Candace Nasierowski Frye said she and her spouse Matt Frye pulled the plug on cable about a month ago, and they've filled their spare time with home improvements. Sunday, the Fryes built a compost pile, and recently they've also installed windows, and painted the house. Also, the duo has simply enjoyed relaxed, interrupted time together, Candace Frye said.
"We now do things we've never done before," she said. "We now sit on the front porch and actually talk with each other."
For some of Carolyn Cyr's fourth graders, just blotting out the images on the television screen was a challenge this last week. Emma Baker of Lake George threw a blanket over her television, but Jayden Cain of Warrensburg said her mother didn't go for the idea.
"She said the teevee would catch fire," she said.
Jayden said she was okay with giving up television, substituting it with play outside, or on the computer.
For her mom, though, it was a hardship, she said.
"Mom said she'd try to keep the teevee off, but when I went to bed, she turned it on - she admitted it later," Jayden said.