My children are growing up in a world filled with children. There is always a friend on hand. Every afternoon, crowds of children swarm the sidewalks, playing hopscotch and tag, and swapping rides on their bikes and scooters. In contrast, my childhood home was bordered by elderly neighbors. Friends were only available by play-date.

I lived in the city, and had much less freedom to roam the neighborhood than my kids do. Instead, I roamed the rooms of my mind. Exotic worlds were accessed by a hidden path through the hedges. I wrote stories, and even attempted a novel at nine years old. I dressed up the dog.

There were many times I was lonely. Yet my loneliness trained me to use time in a way my children know nothing about.

My mother didn't believe in camp. So rather than summers filled with structure, I had summers filled with possibility. While she slept in, I sleuthed the house, gleaning my parent's secrets from the titles of their books and black-and-white pictures of their youth.

I studied the diagrams of the body in Encyclopedia Britannica, fascinated by the way muscles layered bone, and skin layered flesh. I turned those cellophane pages over and over again, reveling in their concealed mysteries.

One summer, I conducted science experiments with cleaning supplies although I termed the resulting concoction "witches brew." I hid it away in a cabinet where it festered for years, until my mother found it in a highly evolved and unrecognizable state. That was my first lesson in evolution.

I traversed the boundary between adventure and mischief and adeptly feigned innocence when I sensed myself to be under observation.

Unlike my own mother, I do believe in camp. Perhaps because I still remember all the things I got up to. Yet I recognize that even the best camp has its limitations.

In camp, children have no need to probe the depths of their minds as I did. They have no need to push at the boundaries between the known and the unknown. Instead, they dwell in a communal world of shared play. They compete in contests which test desirable childhood skills and assign ranks – highest jumper, fastest runner, best hider.

As a parent, I am happy that my children are entertained and have found so many friends to play with. It certainly makes my job easier and spares me from having to listen to the kvetching that loneliness inevitably brings.

Yet I relish the thought that at least for a few weeks this summer, we will be leaving their established and familiar world behind during our yearly pilgrimage to visit their grandparent's.

There is not as much for our children to do at their grandparent's house as there is at home. It is a neighborhood where adults clearly outnumber children. There are no readymade entertainment forums waiting to provide immediate gratification.

Yet I hope that once their initial boredom subsides, they will look beneath the surface and find the hidden world that lurks just beneath their awareness. I hope they will recognize that there are opportunities concealed from one's initial view, and a certain freedom that comes with discovering them.

These opportunities include recognizing that not all games require another player, and not all competitions require an opponent. Sometimes the best games are the ones we play against ourselves.

It is sometimes challenging for a parent to know when to help a child find a suitable activity and when to wait it out, until the child is able to break through their boredom and emerge into the new world on the other side.

To parents brave enough to attempt allowing their children a taste of boredom this summer, I offer these guidelines:

1. There is a difference between a boring environment and a dangerous one. Make sure that your child grows bored in a safe and secure location, rather than a dangerous one.

2. Recognize that downtime is a good thing. It is often the stage that precedes inspiration. Frequently, a bored child will relax and look out the window or watch others in the house before finding their own occupation.

3. Alternate structured days with unstructured ones.

4. If your child seems to be growing overly frustrated, break the mood with a brief activity such as reading stories or a game of cards.

5. Suggest that your child spend time with you doing their own thing alongside. I frequently invite my daughter to work quietly next to me in my office. She brings some art supplies and we both work side by side, sharing the space.

6. Remember that learning to manage your own time and inner world is a skill like any other. Expect setbacks and tantrums along the way.

Many of the greatest Jewish rabbis emphasized the concept of hitbodedut, the practice of using solitude and self-reflection as a method of spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is only possible when one is able to tune out the noise of the external world and focus on the internal one. That ability begins in childhood, and it starts with a taste of boredom.