By: Danielle White, Executive Administrative Assistant, National Safe Place Network
As the school year draws to a close, it’s time to find opportunities for keeping youth engaged during the summer months. As we all know, relaxation can be fun, but it’s only a matter of time before boredom kicks in. Chase away the mid-summer boredom blues with some of the activities listed below and be sure to let us know how much fun you have!
Make your own ice cream: Beat the heat with homemade ice cream—no fancy machines required! Find out how here: http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/cooking-activities-recipes/make-your-own-ice-cream
Create a variety of flavors in under 30 minutes and then add toppings for homemade sundaes. If that sounds like too much exertion in the heat of summer, try popsicles instead (http://www.myrecipes.com/kids/healthy-kids/homemade-popsicles).
Explore local activities: Find community partners to sponsor zoo or museum trips or get tickets to the local fair. Check out your community’s free festivals and other summer activities (but be sure to provide adequate supervision)!
Grill out: Who doesn’t love a cookout?! The possibilities are endless—burgers, hot dogs, brats, grilled veggies, and more! Don’t forget the ice cream and s’mores for dessert! Bonus points if you have a campfire and live music.
Competitions: Bring out the competitive side of your young people. Field days, mini Olympics, basketball/volleyball/badminton games, Top Chef style competitions, and more will keep the youth in your program active and engaged. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone!
Arts & crafts: Tie-dye, chalk, paper mache, balloon animals, painting, drawing, and so much more! There are crafts for every interest and skill level. Give your group a theme or just let them do their own thing. More ideas here: http://www.babble.com/home/10-awesome-summer-craft-projects-for-kids-teens/.
Fireworks: Fireworks are an iconic summer activity. Grab some discounted fireworks for the Fourth of July and go to town! Just be sure to discuss firework safety before the fun begins (http://www.fireworkssafety.org/safety-tips/).
Game night: Game night is fun for everyone. Board games, card games, video games, and more make for an easy and entertaining night! Snacks are a must.
Learning is fun: Help fight summer brain drain by engaging in educational activities. There are plenty of science experiments that can be done with household objects (http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/HomeExpts/HOMEEXPTS.HTML). Games like Jeopardy, Trivial Pursuit, and others will teach new information in a fun environment. If your community has a zoo or other animal-related activities, those can be great learning events. Be creative and remember that learning is fun!
Book club: Keep young minds active during the summer months with a book club. Not everyone wants to spend their time off reading, so keep it fun with movie tie-ins like the Divergent or Hunger Games series or The Fault in Our Stars. There are plenty of movie adaptations being made all the time, so take advantage of them and watch the movies as part of the discussion.
Movie night: Get tickets to a movie theater or a drive in. If those aren’t an option, host your own! Bonus points for using a projector and having an outdoor movie night. Don’t forget the snacks!
Cook together: Choose a theme for the week and learn how to make different parts of the meal each night. At the end of the week, have a feast! For Mexican week, each night could be homemade tortillas, tacos or taco salad, enchiladas, nachos, homemade salsa and guacamole, and dessert. Make each part of the meal on a different night and watch it come together!
Garden: Plant flowers and/or vegetables. Let youth have a say in what is planted and encourage them to tend to the garden regularly. If you grow vegetables, be sure to use them in the kitchen.
Go swimming: Find a local pool to donate swim time and lifeguards for a pool party. Be sure to bring snacks, drinks, sunscreen, and good music. Water parks with diving boards, slides, and wave pools kick the party up a notch! This is also a good time to go over basic water safety (http://www2.redcross.org/services/hss/tips/healthtips/safetywater.html#general).
Whatever you do to beat the heat, have fun, stay safe, and let us know how it turns out! We love to hear about all the fun that NSPN agencies have.