Social Moms wanted bloggers to name five summer experiences that every kid should have. Think about it. The times that make memories are not those that were scheduled to the hilt, but they are the summer activities that were unique and fun.
Live Music - It's too easy to think that music originates on iTunes or YouTube. Watch the street musicians (buskers), attend local outdoor concerts, look for free recitals, and enjoy hearing talented people share their performance skills.
Camp - Whether in a tent or cabin, a formal location with counselors or a small tent in the backyard, camping builds appreciation of outdoors. Children who are comfortable exploring the woods are more likely to grow up knowing and caring about their environment.
Road trip - Long or short, across town or across the country, coping and getting along in the limited space of a car or minivan is a life skill. Learning to use the bathroom before leaving the gas station, respecting each other's personal space, and that the question "Are we there yet?" is not allowed under any circumstances - all of these are skills that will help get along with college roommates, coworkers, and bosses later in life. No matter where the family is going, surviving a road trip is a learning experience.
Alternate forms of travel - Children who've ridden on a ferry understand how large waterways can be. They may not be able to rattle off statistics like gallons or surface area, but they can describe feeling the motion of the waves and seeing water, water, in every direction. Traveling by train, if you're lucky enough to have it available, provides a whole different set of scenery than highways. And don't forget bicycles; riding a bike to the library beats driving there. Just remember a backpack for the books!
Farmers' Market - Wisconsinite Aldo Leopold once described two dangers of not owning a farm. "One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other, and the other that heat comes from the furnace." Seeing the people who grow the food goes a long way toward building an understanding that food doesn't originate at a grocery store. It grows in the ground, and someone plants, tends, and harvests it.
I didn't address organized sports or play-dates or summer school. All of these have value, too. The greatest value of a summertime activity is the experience itself and the memory that experience creates.
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.