Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Great Things to Do This Summer

In these difficult financial times everyone is feeling the strain. It occurred to me, however, that the rising fuel and living costs may actually benefit our community in some meaningful ways. Rather than driving to other larger towns and cities for recreation and shopping, many of us will be staying closer to home this summer and scaling back on spending. Living and playing locally strengthens our communities. These difficult times may be an opportunity to regain unhurried time with friends and family and to form deep community roots that have been slipping away.

Here are 10 great things to do with your family this summer, close to home and for little or no cost:

(1) Make my AMAZING GIANT BUBBLE MIX- Bubbles so big you can enclose yourself inside. Wands are made with straws and string. Prepare to be amazed.

Bubble contest-

Send me photos of best bubbles you make. Best bubble makers win super prize!

Here is a wonderful link to a place where you can learn everything about giant bubble making, including the recipe.

And another great recipe.

(2) Walk the trails at a local woods and look for owls. Sometimes if you hoot, they hoot back. Owls are elusive and tricky. Take some binoculars and move quietly through the woods. Let me know if you see one.

(3)Hike various woods together and clock your miles or steps with a pedometer. Keep a tally through August and send me your stats. Let’s see how many we can do. While hiking, discuss the unique personality of each wood. For example, some woods have spooky vibe sometimes. Look closely at the trees. Did you know that modern children can, on average, name over 50 brand names by age 3, yet many high school kids can’t identify 5 different types of trees?

(4) Make homemade lemonade and sit on the front porch or under a tree together.

Great Lemonade


  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups lemon juice


  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave pulp. In pitcher, stir together chilled syrup, lemon juice and remaining 7 cups water.

(5) Choose one night a week when you collectively turn off all electronics. Tell the kids they can do anything they want as long as it doesn’t involve spending money or using electricity, or cell phones.

Great site to get you motivated to TURN IT OFF.

(6) Camp one night the old fashioned way- no camper, no electronics. Real campers don’t take a television or radio. My camping trips usually go like this- Pitch tent, manage to create unique, unintended octagonal shaped tent. Fish the pond. Enjoy the tugging sensation of swarms of piranha-like baby fish consuming all of your worms at lightening speed. Catch nothing. Make and eat s’mores, eat more s’mores, have another so the last half of the chocolate bar doesn’t go to waste. Remember that your fingers are wormy from fishing. Feel vaguely nauseous. Tell scary bear-attack stories around the campfire. Discuss the possibility that Bigfoot could be wandering Central Illinois. Notice the odd, rustling, Big-foot-like sounds coming from nearby woods, suddenly feel the urge to retreat to tent for safety. Turn on flashlight inside tent. See millions of bugs inside tent. Spend sleepless, sweaty night, wide-eyed, head zippered completely into sleeping bag imagining bugs crawling into ear. Wake up ready for a morning s’more.

(7) Older kids should read “Harris and Me” by Gary Paulsen. Read aloud each evening as a family or alone, it is one of the funniest books ever. “Hatchet” is another good choice. Younger kids- read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Link to Hatchet Site

Link to Farmer Boy

(8) Harness the power of youth. Get behind one of our communities worthy projects as a family. Willow Tree Mission is trying to put a roof on the building that will assist children and women in need. An Animal Shelter is being created for our County. Children want to make differences and should be given the opportunity. Kids don’t operate in the same red tape and beaurocratic universe that adults do. They see problems and have answers. Often, given the chance, kids have the enthusiasm to make real change happen. Grassroots movements are wonderful opportunities for children to make positive impacts within the community.

Willow Tree Mission

Piatt County Animal Shelter

Youth Volunteer Corp

(9) Get some kids together in the evening for a night of little remembered games. Some great games are falling into oblivion and need to be played and rescued from oblivion. Try Kick-the Can, Ghost in the Graveyard, or Stalking the Drum. Try this game for wild kids (with mom’s who have nerves of steel): Noodle Battles! Choose a day when everyone has too much energy. Purchase several pool noodles- those long, Styrofoam-ey things. The cost is minimal. Cut each in half. These make wonderful whacking toys. Devise a simple fencing game with points or do what we do- have the entire family take part in an outdoor battle. It is wonderful fun with lots of movement, yelling and noise. The smack sounds impressive, but it is usually painless. It satisfies a deeply rooted boy instinct to whack one another-without the unpleasantness of blood and trips to the ER.

Link to outdoor game rules.

(10) Stop and buy at each lemonade stand you see. Send me time and place of yours and I promise to come.

Chris can be contacted at csanant@yahoo.com

1 comment:

reformedaspie said...

Chris, What wondeful things to do for the summer! I enjoy your writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!