I never went to summer camp as a kid. My family didn’t leave for the month of July. We didn’t have a beach house where we could escape the heat. Instead, my siblings and I played with the other homebound neighborhood kids. We rode our bikes, roller skated, built forts, drew hopscotches, ran through sprinklers and played games long after the fireflies came out. Throughout the day, someone’s parent would open their screen door and offer us berries, apple slices, sandwiches, ice cream bars or cold lemonade.
This summer, my kids’ summer will likely look similar (minus the sprinkler since we’re in a draught here in Texas). We’re staying home, and if you are too, fear not. There’s plenty of potential for excitement including:
Camping in your backyard. Set up a tent and sleeping bags, grill s’mores and take turns telling ghost stories.
Setting up a weekly neighborhood play date. My neighborhood recently started this and it’s been wonderful meeting new families. A different family hosts each week.
Picking from an activity jar. At the beginning of the summer, have each family member write down a handful of things they want to do as a family such as take a hike, go to the children’s museum, visit the farmer’s market, have a picnic, watch the sun set, watch the sun rise, go bowling, or volunteer for an afternoon. Put each suggestion on a separate piece of paper, then pull one out at random when you’re looking for things to do.
Put on a play. My mother (sometimes the only audience member) can attest to the frequency at which my siblings and I had talent shows, plays and performances. But it kept us busy for hours with rehearsals, finding a wardrobe, drawing the playbills and setting up the theater — ahem — living room.
One hallmark of holiday vacation is the food. Even if it’s the same dish I’d serve at home, my kids somehow believe it’s different and more special when we’re on vacation. That’s why I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve this summer. Hamburgers are being served as mini-sliders. Melon is balled or cut into stars or hearts with a cookie cutter. We’re making our own ice pops, grilling our pizza (learn how with this video opens in a new tab), having a top-your-hot-dog-bar and putting everything on a stick (kabob party!).
Here are a few kid-approved recipes that will boost the flavor and fun of your staycation.
What’s on your staycation list of things to do? And what foods will you serve when you want to up the fun factor this summer?