Ah, summer days. The kids in the backyard, running around in the sunshine. They dash through the sprinkler in the morning. When the sun starts to set, it’s street hockey or maybe baseball or soccer until the street lights come on and you holler for them to come inside for dinner. Is that really how things are in 2018 or did those days end in the 80s?
The more likely scenario today looks something like the kids being cooped up inside a dark room playing Fortnite until they wander outside looking like zombies, asking for pizza. We’re all too secluded these days. Too sedentary… too drawn to the pull of video games (or Netflix) and the lull of the beanbag or recliner.
We know we should get outside more. The benefits aren’t hard to see. More sunshine means more Vitamin D and a lift to our moods. The exercise we get by running around helps to decrease stress and keep us fit. But that doesn’t make getting out any easier. And it certainly doesn’t make getting our kids outside any easier, especially when they’re tempted by so many things on a screen that captivating to them.
If you’re not looking forward to the battles that come with trying to lure unwilling participants out in the sunshine this summer, here are a few ideas to help get your young ones moving and interested in things that are more meaningful than social media.
Walk… to the store or the post office or anywhere, really
If you live anywhere close to retail or commercial properties, try walking to get some of your errands done. Kids sometimes feel more motivated to walk if they feel like they’re on a mission. It can be hard to get kids walking to do something when they’re so used to getting things done in cars. But try explaining the cost savings of not taking the car (it costs about .20 a mile to drive) and the environmental impact. At the very least, they’ll get a lesson on going green.
Stop at local landmarks and places of interest
We’re lucky to live in a town that’s extremely walkable and although Swasey Parkway gets a lot of attention, there are several other interesting landmarks to walk and see. Too often, in Exeter and in most cities and towns, we don’t stop to think about all of the history that surrounds us. New England residents especially are surrounded by historic places that tend to get overlooked. Get the kids out, read some signs and dig into the local flavor.
Backyard Obstacle course
Kids tend to love getting dirty and a good physical challenge. Shows like American Ninja Warrior make tricks like this especially timely. Set up agility runs by arranging pool noodles in circular shapes. Hurdles can be created by stringing yarn to wooden stakes - or do army crawls by challenging kids to crawl under them. Scraps of old wood make a decent balance beam and large stones can act as a leap challenge. The point is to get creative, and have the kids help with ideas and course building.
Plant a Garden
There are so many lessons to be taught in gardening. The life cycle of plants and the sun, how plants are pollinated, and what fruits and vegetables can do to help our overall health, just to name a few. Kids also get a certain sense of satisfaction by taking part in the gardening process and seeing their work go from planting to harvest to the dinner table.
The concept of summer camp for children has changed a lot in recent years. While there are still the more “traditional” sleepaway camps located in natural settings, it’s less common now than in decades past. Still, the right summer camp can do wonders for a child or young adult. The skills development taught in these camps can help to make a child better in a range of different areas like sports or the arts. Additionally, the social experience that comes with a child integrating with peers in a camp setting is extremely valuable. Kids also learn to develop an increased sense of independence by getting out of their comfort zone and figuring out situations that are new to them.
Karate International offers a summer seminar series that will keep kids progressing in their training while offering elements of a fun field trip. Whichever camp you select, be sure:
The philosophy of the camp aligns with your own philosophy. Is it focused on sports, arts, leadership, etc?
There is an emphasis on creating a sense of community and integration
The staff is well-trained
It’s within your budget and criteria for convenience (times, locations, etc.)
An object in motion tends to stay in motion. Keep those kids moving!