Summer Activities for Families

By Mary Nicholson

When the blog sign-up sheet went around the office, it was one of those summer-like days in March.  Shorts and sandals weather.  And I was thinking “outdoor fun” would be a cinch!  Today, it’s a little gray, cold and windy.  We had to cover up plants outside last night due to frost.  This does not make it easy to think “fun in the sun”!  Hopefully if you’re reading this, we’re back to warmer weather.  And if not, let’s just pretend.

Well, my all-time favorite recommendation for a great summer activity for families would have to be swimming!  What a great way to be physically active and relative cool at the same time!  Having spent five summers at our local pool as everything from a ticket taker to lifeguard/swim teacher, you might guess that I’m fond of the water.  Especially back then, we had the most unique pool in southern Illinois.  It was huge and round and the edges were sloped, so it really was like a beach.  There was a huge fountain in the middle where the water was 5 feet deep.  There was also a baby pool with a smaller fountain, and a deep pool with a high dive and 2 low dives.  It was an amazing place and I loved to spend time there.

So back to the swimming itself.  I am an advocate for everyone knowing how to swim, or at least be able to tread water and not panic.  There are all sorts of benefits to swimming, but even playing in the water is a great activity.  Have you ever tried running in the water?  That added resistance gives you more bang (muscle tone and strength) for your buck (running).  Plus it’s just fun!  Here’s a list of 10 reasons why swimming is good for you at any age:

Unfortunately, a pool isn’t always available, so what other fun activities are there?  It seems like the list is nearly endless.  Bike riding, roller blading, hiking, tennis, and volleyball are a few things that come to mind.  How about a back-yard obstacle course?  Also known as a par trail, this is something that can be changed so the kids can’t claim that “it’s boring”.  Here’s a sample course:

This is your back yard:

X (lawn chair)

)( (tree)                                S (jump rope)

00 (2 cans of beans)

                                                                                      ########## (ladder flat on ground)

Here’s what you do (example only!):

Start at the lawn chair

Run to the tree

Run around the tree 3 times

Run to the jump rope

Jump 50 times or to your favorite jump rope song

Skip over to the ladder

Hop over the ladder rungs on one foot, turn around, and hop back on the other foot

Jump with both feet to the cans of beans

Lift them up over your shoulders 15 times

Hop on all fours (like a frog) to the lawn chair

It’s pretty simple AND flexible, so go out there and have some fun!

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