This week the children in the Stockholm region where I am from have sportlov (transl. "sports break"). This break from school goes back to World War II. Despite Sweden being neutral and not participating in the war directly, the rationing and lack of coal used to heat the schools became a problem. The solution was to close the schools for a week during the winter to conserve cost.

Different activities were arranged for the out-of-school children, and quickly the activities were focused on outdoor activities and sports. That is where the "sports break" got it’s name from. Today the dates are different in different parts of the country, but it takes place in the end of February or in March.

When I grew up, I was not very interested in winter sports. My parents had me learn ice skating and I also did cross country skiing, but I was more interested in less strenuous activities… My sister on the other hand did enjoy Alpine (or downhill) skiing, both locally on the island where I grew up where they had ski lifts and prepared tracks on a small mountain, in northern Sweden (Scandinavian Mountains) and in Italy in the Alps.

So what did I do? Well, eventually I managed to convince my parents, using my excellent verbal skills (in combination with several warm winters with no snow, when skiing and skating was not really possible), that being outside freezing and potentially getting sick was not the best use of the break. I was about 10 or 11, and I started to try different activities arranged both on Liding??>, the island where I grew up, and in Stockholm itself. The Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm had, like most museums, activities, and one year I went there and built a plastic model of a SEPECAT Jaguar.

I then started going to a local indoor shooting range, where a local shooting organisation arranged for children to test air guns, shooting .117 caliber pellets. We had to sign up for a timeslot, and after 30 minutes of shooting time, we were allowed to sign up again for a later slot again. I frequently walked to the nearby library to read or get some new books while I waited. This way I often got three or even four sessions of shooting in.

Other years my parents took the opportunity to go down to visit my dad’s family in Blekinge in southern Sweden. I usually spent a large part of that time reading, both during the 8 hour drive (today it is less than 7 hours, due to new roads and increased speed limits) and during the stay.

After I got hooked at computers in 7th grade, a couple of times I managed to borrow a computer from the school during the break, or some years actually got to spend time in the computer room despite the school being closed. The maintenance staff often used this week to repair things or paint stairs or walls, and as I was trusted, I was let in.


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