My dad used the season of summer for fun bonding with me. In my elementary years, he would take me on sales call road trips with him. I loved every second of it. When I was 10, he took the entire month of July off and hauled my family from North Carolina to California and back in a conversion van. He took me to minor league baseball games, local fairs, beaches, and so many things I have no room to list. But what I loved the most was how he always called me “Little Buddy.” He could have just pushed me on a swing and it would have all had the same effect because I could feel his genuine affection.
Our children seek that type of feeling from us and this season begs us to provide it. Here are some fun summer ideas to help you get on that path of building those bonds that will last forever.
1. Build something.
Kids of all ages absolutely love to build things with their dad. I grew up in the 70s when building things with dad meant an education in colorful vocabulary, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. You can build a simple fort in the living room, an elaborate fort in the trees, or maybe even a lemonade stand. The point is to make it a priority to show your children how to create from imagination.Make it a priority to show your children how to create from imagination.
2. Hike in a national park.
All across our country America is busting with beautiful nature set aside to remain in a pure state. This is not only for the preservation of wildlife and the environment, but for us to be able to experience a world different from the cities and suburbs. Take advantage of this gift and get your children out in the clean air and on a hike to lifelong memories.
3. Visit weird regional attractions.
I’ve always had an affinity for the things that fit in this category. One thing on my bucket list I have yet to see is the giant Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, in Minnesota. Younger kids eat this stuff up, and I’ve shown my kids all kinds of strange sights on the road. Giant plastic dinosaurs, Airstream trailers sticking out of the dirt, caverns, even a Florida “waterfall” that drops about 6 inches. It took 20 minutes to hike to a six-inch waterfall. It was worth it.
4. Go backyard camping.
Every child should experience camping at least once. The whole deal: the tent, the sleeping bags, the campfire, the beans, the S’mores, the stories, the laughter. They make tents nowadays that anyone can put up. We no longer have the excuse of what a giant pain in the rear they can be.
5. Get in the water.
It need not be explained that summer and water are two peas in a pod. Find an ocean, a lake, a swimming hole, a river perfect for tubing or just the local neighborhood pool, and get in the water. You are a “can’t miss” hero in the water, even if you just stand there and smile. However, if you do fun things as well, you’ll be a downright superhero.
6. Go bowling.
Bowling is arguably the most family-friendly sport. It’s complicated enough to provide stimulating competition for the older children, but it’s easily transferable to move to a toddler barely shoving a ball between the bumpers and grinning ear to ear.
7. Do a scavenger hunt.
When my kids were small, one of my favorite things to do was put them in the wagon behind my John Deere, and take them on a scavenger hunt. I’d be careful to make sure they noticed particular types of oak trees or certain unique neighborhood landmarks. When they accumulated enough clues to guess where the treasure was, off we’d go down the street by their direction. Waiting for them was a goody bag of fun rewards. Perhaps they will do the same with their own kids one day.
8. Volunteer as a family.
We were created to serve others and, when we do, our souls are enriched and deepened in ways that are never lost within us. There are endless volunteer opportunities in every community via churches, civic organizations, and government bodies. But sometimes the best way to serve is to simply ask a neighbor or friend who is struggling how you can be of help. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Sound off: What are some of the great ways you have summer fun with your children?
Huddle up with your kids and ask them to tell you 3 things they would each like to do with you this summer.