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5 Classic Summer Activities for the Whole Family

by Tamie Neu and Somer Loomis

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Summer abounds with opportunities for adventures that create learning and engagement opportunities for children. Time spent together and experiences are the most important gifts we can give. They are also key to transferring family values.

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1

A Summer Road Trip

Pack up those suitcases and take off on the open road! There’s some seriously beautiful country out there. Your 75″ 4k television will never compare to actually experiencing natural scenic wonders like the Grand Canyon in Arizona, or Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

Consider places more above ground like the mountains of Montana or the Florida Everglades. Traveling Mom.com has some great suggestions here. Consider places your children have been studying in school or have read about otherwise and been particularly fascinated with.

Family Leadership Tips

  • Start your planning with at least one family meeting to explore destination ideas, schedule, and budget. When the whole family is reasonably involved in decision making you instantly gain incredible opportunities to build connections and share family values.
  • Once the destination or route is set, spend the weeks leading up to the trip learning about the sites you’ll see along the way. This pre-trip exploration is a major part of the “Engagement” we talk about in Birth2work’s leadership principle, The Three Es: Environment, Experience, and Engageme

Consider making or purchasing a travel journal like this one or this minimalist version to record things like pre-trip expectations and questions. Then add stories and keepsakes while you’re out in the world.

  • After the trip is over, keep discussing the places you saw, people you met, and memories you made. No matter the age of your children, helping them make new connections by talking about prior experiences is one way you can lead them toward a rich connection and passion for the world around them. 

Recreating the Past

As a family, we like to recreate photos from the past whenever we’re out on the road. At left, Birth2Work co-founder Elane V. Scott circa 1977(ish) at the Grand Canyon. To the right are her daughters on their own sisters road trip in 2007.

2

Days (or Nights) at the Beach

Sand and sun are a staple of summertime for some (say that 10 times fast!) Here at the Birth2Work offices we argued a bit over this one. Some of us don’t like getting coated in sunblock and then getting covered in sand. Some others of us say, then why do you live near the beach? Because beach bonfires and night time are fantastic too we say! Nice breezes and no sticky sunblock required. That’s another blog topic I guess.

For those who live in the desert or are anchored on urban concrete, some beautiful beach days might still sound wonderful! The sounds of the waves and the seagulls…the feeling of cool waves splashing over your feet. You could swim in the beautiful ocean and build sandcastles with the kids all day!

Whatever your preference, days or nights at the beach are a simple and inexpensive way to spend time together.

Family Leadership Tips

  • Make a game out of packing your gear like that sticky (but absolutely necessary) sunblock, towels, snacks, toys, etc … Knowing what equipment is needed and thinking ahead about the desired experience helps kids with planning skills that are valuable all year and all lifelong.

Whatever Makes You Happy

Days (or nights) at the beach can take many forms. Try visiting some local tidepools, go for an evening visit, or indulge in the cool water and warm sun. All are worthwhile adventures with the family.

3

Camping (or Glamping!)

The great outdoors awaits you! This adventure may take you to a state park or an area with hiking trails and campsites. America has amazing national parks from Big Bend to Yellowstone. Think of the trails, tents, plus the smores and stories around a campfire.

If sleeping on the ground isn’t your (sleeping) bag, (see what we did there?), plenty of parks offer simple cabins with mattresses and flushing toilets all the ways to luxury glamping experiences.  The point of a camping trip is to get out of your routine and shake things up. A little nature does the body good.

Family Leadership Tips

  • By putting yourself in an unfamiliar situation, you more accurately display what types of life skills you value. You may be quite adept at teaching patience and cooperation in a professional setting or on the playground. But when the tent seems to willfully disobey you and you’re starving but your skewered hot dog is simultaneously burnt and still frozen, can you laugh it off and try something else? Or do you get a little more hot under the collar than is really necessary?

Remember, kids are constantly confronting new situations that we may have long since become accustomed. Challenging yourself to thrive in a new environment can remind you how tough it is to be a kid sometimes.

  • If you’re an experienced camper, or married to one, take the time to show off your skills to your family. Fishing, bird photography, campfire cooking in a foil packet, and discreetly and responsibly defecating in the woods are all skills you likely won’t be able to teach in the city or the suburbs. 🙂

New Environments Teach New Skills

Everyday life often forces us into routines that may or may not highlight our best and truest selves. Camping is a great way to teach and learn from your family about what they are capable of and interested in, no matter their age or yours!

4

A Baseball Game

What fun it would be to sit in the stands and watch your favorite team play a game at home. The cheering crowd, the seventh-inning stretch, and the hot dogs combine to make a thrilling and relaxing day. 

Sitting together and watching a game is as much about the sport as is it is about the memories you’re building by just watching together. It’s rude to talk through movies, but it’s expected that you would talk together while at the stadium. Sometimes just being still together is a great way to connect. 

Family Leadership Tips

  • Even if you’re not all that excited about baseball yourself, it’s worth exposing your children to a game or two in their lifetimes. Baseball is such a big part of American culture, nostalgia, and our common language that it’s valuable to see where these references come from.

Check out this Wikipedia page about baseball idioms in the English language. Parts of speech like this make much more sense when you have a memory or experience to connect them to. 

Professional or Local – It Doesn’t Matter

If a major league game isn’t an option for your family, a local game is just as worthy.

5

A Star Party

Haven’t the foggiest what a star party is? Let us explain. 

Most of the Birth2Work team has been attending star parties at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas since we were tots. These types of events take place all over the country at both amateur gatherings and public observatories. A simple Google search will tell you where to find your nearest gathering. 

A star party may begin with a video about the origins of the universe. The main attraction of course is then you get to look through various sized telescopes to see for yourself all the incredible features of the night sky. If you’re lucky you may be able to speak with an astronomer about what exactly the telescope is featuring that evening.

There’s usually hot chocolate involved and a good deal of story telling besides. 

Family Leadership Tips

  • A little bit of prep work goes a long way. Start with talking about the night sky and what your kids may know about the universe. Constellations are often easy to identify. Do you know nearly every culture on earth has extensive stories associated with the night sky?

    Purchase a few books like this one or try your local library for resources from scientific to mythical. 

    Building connections is your goal. Reading about stars, planets, and nebulae is fascinating. Seeing them in the sky with a powerful microscope is a whole new level. With a physical experience to look back on, it’s likely everything your child learns about space throughout the lives will be elevated by that positive association with a family trip to the observatory. 

Need We Say More?

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