A common refrain in Ripon, and likely in any other similarly sized American cities: “There’s nothing for youth to do.”

     This has been asserted for decades. Falsely.

     ... Even if Ripon built a youth center aimed at 16- to 18-year-olds, they likely wouldn’t attend it for one reason: No freedom.

     At about the age of adolescence, teens crave liberation from authority, structure, rules and supervision. The last things they want are walls, regulations and chaperones.

     That rejection of adult-inspired activity was a reminder provided by last week Saturday’s temporary resurgence of Ripon’s “scooping the loop.”

     Back when kids drove the circuit around Watson and Blackburn streets in their (or more likely their parents’) cars, the ritual was all about being free to “cruise chicks” or “scope out the guys,” being seen with cool kids, blaring Foghat’s “Slow Ride” out the window on the vehicle’s 8-track or cassette players, stopping at Clark across from Davis Supermarket at Blackburn and Seward for a 50-cent-a-gallon fillup, and for the gearheads, revving up the engines of souped-up pickups or sedans and then burning rubber. ...

     Scooping the loop in its heyday was, depending on one’s status, fun, boring, cliquish, social, stupid, flirtatious, irresponsible, predictable and, by today’s standards, fairly wholesome.

     But most of all, it was escapism, giving Ripon youth freedom without the training wheels, a temporary respite preparing them for the rest of their lives, when time no longer would permit such a trifle as literally driving around in circles.                                           — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the Aug. 15, 2019 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.