Summer is officially here! And with summer comes the question...
"WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TODAY?"
Yeah, it's coming, the question we all dread hearing, "What are we going to do today?" Summer's is awesome. We love the warm weather, lazy days, and the fact we get get to spend time with our families, but summer also comes with its share of challenges. It doesn't take long for kids to "run out" of things to occupy their time.
So to help you keep your children active while creating some great family memories, we've come up with a list of ideas to help you plan out your summer schedule! Here are 25 summer activities for your family!
Don't be caught without a plan of something to do this summer. Keep your kids moving and create great memories this summer!
What summer activities would add to our list? Leave us a comment with some suggestions. If we get enough ideas, we create a new, readers list !
- the higham family
It's Monday, the day after our third, non-stop weekend of busyness. Three weekends ago our oldest son graduated from high school. The very next day we hosted somewhere between 150 and 200 guests at his graduation party. The next morning Jay preached at both services at our church, followed by a graduation luncheon, a graduation party for one of our students, and dinner with in-laws. And while it was an amazing weekend, it was a bit exhausting.
Two weekends ago was almost as busy. It started with a wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner on Friday night. Jay had the privilege of officiating the wedding of a former student. Saturday morning we woke to a list of errands before the 4:00 ceremony followed by reception. On Sunday, Jay again preached at both services at church. After church, Amy went to visit some friends who have a son in a local hospital, while Jay ran errands and prepared for a church function we were hosting at the house. It was another amazing weekend, and almost equally as exhausting.
This past weekend was spent getting ready for Vacation Bible School at the church and Day Camp which Amy is running at our favorite summer camp. Needless to say, we were fairly busy.
We want to share with you, three simple reminders that could make this your best summer ever!
1. Plan Your Summer Before Your Summer Plans You!
Just like any other season during the year, life can quickly become overwhelming and out of control. What makes summer unique is that for most of us, our kids are out of school, at home, and looking for something to do. We have found that having a plan for your summer is a great way to stay in control and on top of your activities.
At the beginning of your summer, sit down with the calendar and a piece of paper. First, make a list of all the things you want or expect to do over the summer. This list might include activities such as a family vacation, summer camps, weekend trips, visits to museums or local zoos. You might even want to include trips to visit with grandparents or extended family that require travel.
Once you have your list, use the calendar to plan what you will do and when. Be sure to avoid overbooking with your regular daily activities. For example, we have to be careful not to schedule a trip that conflicts with work schedules or appointments
With your calendar carefully filled with your desired activities, post the calendar in a place where everyone can see it. This will help build excitement with the kids as the activity approaches, but also help with scheduling of new or unexpected activities. Having a plan for the days and weeks to come will help you stay in control of your summer, and provide you with a little structure and balance. And, that will help you to slow down and really enjoy your time with your family.
2. Realize That Time Can Be Your Friend!
We are a family of 7. That means, that someone is doing something almost every minute of the day. Too often, we wonder where the time went? But these next couple of months don't have to end with you wondering where your summer went. Time can be your friend.
So, you've already created your summer calendar, right? Great! Now go back to the calendar and let's create time. How? By setting time aside. What?
Every year we race through summer and never slow down long enough to appreciate or enjoy our time as a family. Just recently, we found ourselves doing this very thing. While at a graduation party, Amy and Jay found themselves surrounded by all four boys as they sat around a table and talked with us. It's been a long time since we have been able to enjoy time like that.
This summer, we want to create more opportunities for our family to sit and enjoy being together, so we are making sure to add time to our calendar. Time to sit by the fire at the end of a day. Time to enjoy a good story. Time to laugh and share. Time to just be. As you work on your summer calendar, make time your friend, set aside time to enjoy time.
3. Make Memories Be Your Motivation!
A couple of years ago, we determined that we wanted to do things a little different. After noticing that the kids were spending more time in their rooms and on their devices, we decided that we needed to be more intentional. So we set out to make memories.
As parents, we want to see our adult children gathering and remembering their childhood with stories, laughter, and joy. We realized that unless we made some changes, there wouldn't be many stories. Memories became our motivation. We started planning family activities and events that would lead to great memories. From thinking about how we would use our time on vacation to what we do around the house as a family, we looked for opportunities that would lead to the kinds of stories we hoped our kids will share.
As you look ahead at your summer, think about how you want your adult children to look back on their childhood. If you want the laughter that comes from stories packed with memories, then you need to think about how you can begin creating those memories.
We want the best for our kids. We want them to enjoy their time together as siblings. And we want them to have great memories. So we're doing what we can to create those moments.
Don't let summer just fly by. And don't let busyness dominate your time. Take the steps to plan ahead, use your time wisely, and make memories that last.
- the higham family.
This weekend we joined the ranks of thousands of other parents who spent their weekend traveling to sports tournaments with our kids. It's not that we've never done this. Our number #1 participated in a basketball tournament years ago. But that seems small in comparison to this past weekend. This weekend Amy and I shared in the full tournament experience, and we have to say, it was fun!
In the past we have done our best to stay away from sports teams that do a lot of traveling. Being in full-time ministry, traveling on the weekend for tournaments presents a few problems. One, when Sunday is a "work day" it's hard to take that time off. And two, traveling, staying in hotels, eating out, and tournament fees, add up pretty quickly. So when our kids look to play on sports teams, we always have to check to see if the team participates in many tournaments.
Thus far we have been blessed in that the sports and teams that our kids have played for have either chosen not to participate in tournaments, or only participate in local tournaments. So we have done a few, just not many that have required us to stay overnight somewhere.
But this past weekend, we join our #3 sons soccer team in Edinboro, for a weekend tournament. Games started Friday evening and continued through Sunday afternoon. The tournament was huge. I have no idea just how many teams played, but there were a lot!
Going into the weekend, we weren't really sure what to expect. So we had our eyes wide-open as we made our way through the weekend, and I think we learned a few things along the way.
Those two meals helped all of us save a lot of money over the weekend. Everyone brought some kind of side dish or dessert to share, which left us with a ton of delicious food!
Another great savings came in that the hotel offered a free continental breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday morning came and we paid cash for our hotel stay. And when we left for home later that afternoon, we still had money in our pockets.
Budget and plan ahead.
2. Look at the Trip as a Way to Spend Time with Your Kids Doing Something You Wouldn't Normally Do.
- In 2014, we made a conscious decision to be more intentional with our kids. One of the ways we planned to do that was to look for opportunities to create fun memories but experiencing new place and new activities. This weekends tournament helped to fulfill that task. For us, we almost never stay in a hotel, much less a hotel with a pool. Nor have we made many trips as of late to new and "unexplored" areas. This weekend we did both! And then some!!
We tried to make the most of our opportunity, taking every moment as a moment have a laugh, create a memory, or simply just enjoy. The location of the tournament not only made us travel, but we stayed about 20 minutes from Lake Erie. So on Sunday, after the tournament was over, we made the trip to the Lake for a Father's Day lunch at a great restaurant on the Lake. After lunch, we drove out to Presque Isle State Park. It was a beautiful day and we had beautiful views! It was a trip that we might not have made otherwise!
So not only did we get to cheer for #3 and his soccer team, but we also enjoyed some family sightseeing and had a mini-vacation. All activities that opportunities simply because we chose to do something we wouldn't normally do.
3. Take the Time as Chance to Be A Part of the Community that You Live In.
- As a full-time pastor, I believe that it is super important that we as a family be invested in the community around us. And while it's hard sometimes to juggle family-time vs. ministry-time, a weekend like this helps to accomplish both.
First and foremost, this weekend was about family. #3 was playing soccer in a tournament. We were going to support and cheer on our son and his team. And most of the weekend was spent with me being simply a dad sitting on the sidelines watching his kid play. Second, were the pastors family. We live in the church manse. People know that we work at the church. So whether we want to or not, we will always be know as the pastors family.
Now that being said, we love what we do. And we do believe in being a part of the community. While this weekend was mostly about us just being parents, there was still the opportunity to meet and talk with other parents and families from our community. And we did it in a way that mades us approachable because we all shared the same purpose for the weekend; cheering our kids on.
We have also been blessed to have a number of families from the church also on the team. That helps bridge the gap between the pastor and the person. You see, there needs to be a certain authenticity in who we are and what we say we believe. We are parents who struggle to raise our children, stick to a budget, deal with school issues, juggle multiple calendars, and still chase after Jesus. We're not perfect, but we really do love Jesus and we try to do the best we can as we live as disciples. Being authentic is allowing our neighbors to see the imperfections, and hope that God's grace shines brightly through who we are in Christ.
By the time we arrived home we were all exhausted. It was a great weekend of soccer, being with friends, and enjoying some pretty special family-time. We had a few really good laughs, shared some great moments, and added to the list of memories that we're trying to create. It's being intentional. It's being creative. It's being authentic. It's being a family.
- the higham family
Summer camp. Cabins, lakes, sports, crafts, nature hikes, bugs, snakes, poison ivy...Am I bringing back any memories? How about the adventures, friends, campfires, kumbaya songs at the end of the week? Yes, let's not forget the tears as we say goodbye to all our new found friends.
Amy and I are big supports of summer camp, especially summer Christian camp. I (Jay) practically grew up at camp. My parents were very involved in our churches summer camp ministry. Mom worked for years as a camp nurse. I remember spending multiple weeks at our camp, sitting in the infirmary watching mom pull splinters and stingers, applying ointment on sunburn, rashes, and poison ivy. Of course there was the occasional fracture of laceration, but those were few and far between. Dad? I remember dad going to work during the day, then coming to the camp and helping out around the property. For some reason I remember my dad in a huge hole as they were trying to fix some plumbing or something in the ground. I don't think a miss but a handful of weeks of summer camp. I loved it. Look forward to it. And hated leaving it.
Amy's camp experience was a little different, coming along later as a counselor, then assistant to the director and finally co-director. (She did attend camp as a kid, but mostly sports camps.)
Amy and I met at camp. Our first two years together were spent working as counselor then co-directors. Even into our first two years of marriage, we still worked at camp. In 1998, shortly after our oldest was born, we moved to Wellsboro, PA so I could become the Summer Camp Director at a small Christian camp. In 2005, I spent another 3 summers as the full-time Summer Camp Director at a camp in Jennerstown, PA.
There is something very special and unique offered by camping ministries that is hard to find anywhere else.
I share all of that because we believe that there is something very special and unique offered by camping ministries that is hard to find anywhere else. When a kid leaves home for a week or more, leaving behind the routines of life (cell phones, devices, video games, even regular sports) and is surrounded by believers who are super excited about Jesus in their own lives, God does something.
One of our favorite camps, Pine Springs Camp, in Jennerstown, PA says it best. In their mission statement it reads, "To provide all campers with a vital encounter with Jesus Christ that leads to growth in Christian faith and discipleship." That's what summer camp is all about; having a vital encounter with Jesus Christ!
We love summer camp. and we're trying to pass that love down to our kids. All of our kiddos have been to one or more weeks of camp. Some have been to more than one camp. They have their memories and experiences. It's one of the "rules" of the house; 'Go to camp.' We want our kids to know and experience the adventures that a summer camp offers, both programmatically and spiritually. And spiritually, camp has had a significant impact on their lives.
This summer, Amy and I have the opportunity to return to camp. We will be spending some time at Pine Springs Camp, in Jennerstown, PA helping with their Day Camp. They needed some last minute help, and we are more than glad to jump in and give them a hand. But it's not just Amy and I, 3 of our 5 kids will also be attending a week or more of summer camp.
They encourage campers to connect with God, spend time with him, and grow in their relationship with him. For campers who haven't decided to own their faith, the gospel is clearly given and the opportunity to begin a new journey with Jesus is made available.
2. For the opportunity to be social.
- Hey, we struggle with this as much as anyone; our kids are digitally dependent. I know, I know, but it's one of the realities of our culture. Kids every where spend considerable time on their electronic devices. Gaming, social media networks, streaming services, blogs and vlogs; it's virtual world. But at camp, the virtual world doesn't exist, just the physical. That means kids have to put done their devices and connect with real people, in a real environment. They sleep in cabins with other campers. They talk, share, and learn together. New friendships are forged. Memories are made. Laughter is shared. And epic stories of heroic adventures are written. Camp offers the opportunity for students to be social.
New friendships are forged. Memories are made. Laughter is shared.
And epic stories of heroic adventures are written.
3. For the opportunity to have fun.
- Growing up in the city of Philadelphia, summer camp offered me the chance to do things I couldn't do in the neighborhood. Hiking, canoeing, fishing, splashing in a stream, drinking from a natural spring, climbing trees, rolling down grassy hills, laying on my back at night watching the stars. Today the adventure is bigger with activities like rope courses, rafting trips, repelling, rock climbing, kayaking, and and over night tent camping! Camp is fun. You can do things at camp that you can always do at home or in your community! As parents we want our kids to experience the things that only camp can offer. We want our kids to have fun!
Are you sending your kids to camp?
Seriously? Would you think about it?
It's not to late. There are still camps who have openings for this summer.
Too expensive? Yeah, I'll give you that. A week of camp can be pricy, but help is often available. Talk to the camp about a scholarships. Many camps offer assistance because others who share the vision and passion for camping have donated money to help kids go to camp. Check with your local church. Many churches set aside budget money to help families send kids to camp. Talk to grandparents or aunts and uncles. Sometimes instead of giving gifts that break or get forgotten, family members can give the gift of camp giving the amount they would normally spend on a toy as a cash gift to go towards their week of summer camp!
If you send your kid to camp, that next vital encounter with Jesus might be their vital encounter, and I think that makes camp worth it! Come on, let's go to camp!
- the higham family
There are a couple of camps that we truly love. Two in particular that have invested in our kids well. We know the staff and have seen the heart of the camp at work through the full-time and the summer staff. We trust these camps, so it gives us great joy to share them. Pine Springs Camp, Jennerstown, PA and Summer's Best Two Weeks, Boswell, PA
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.