By Judy Ware
Summertime… and the livin’ is easy. Fish are jumpin’, and the cotton is high...
From the musical Porgy and Bess
Treasure Valley families are feeling summer in all its glory. The Boise River is flowing, fish are swimming, and the sun in the sky is shining bright. The “shoulds” of life have given way to the “wants.” It’s time to engage in summer activities that take us to a pace of life that invites a slowdown.
With so many choices of free and convenient things to do, there’s no reason for kids to say they’re bored. Break out the calendar, pour the lemonade, and sit the family down for a relaxing planning session. Let all voices be heard. You may not all agree on doing the same things, so nix the stress of arguing, show some give and take, and choose activities that not only satisfy individual preferences, but also bring the family together.
Ask each family member, If you could, what’s the one thing you’d like to do this summer? Give parameters such as cost, accessibility, and time frames. A little realism is good as long as kids don’t feel hammered for having creative suggestions. “Yes, buts” can stop the ideas from coming. So, keep encouraging the discussion. (From the start, limit activities that fall in the category of couch potato, e.g., hours of TV watching. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
- Tennis. Whether you prefer hitting balls without keeping score or feel like competing in friendly games, pick up your racket and head to the city parks or junior high/high schools. Sign up for group lessons with Boise Parks and Recreation.
- Swimming. City pools are conveniently located. They provide a place for kids and families to play in lifeguarded pools. Lessons continue all summer.
- Ice Skating. Head out to Idaho Ice World for group or private lessons, public skating, family night, and youth hockey programs. Summer birthday parties are a cool alternative. Call for schedules.
- Mobile Recreation Unit. This recreation program visits various parks. Games, sports, and nutritional guidance are all free. Call for park locations and dates, or check the Magazine’s calendar.
- Dance. Whether your child wants to learn hip-hop, tap, ballet, or just move to the rhythm of a good tune, classes are available with city programs or private dance studios.
- Other activities like hiking, biking, or a spontaneous pick-up game of basketball in your own driveway can be just as exhilarating as an organized sport.
Arts and Minds
- Summer Reading. Valley libraries offer marathon reading programs that motivate kids to read lots of books. You can check out armloads of mysteries, fantasies, and adventures every week.
- Paint, Draw, Design. Art classes expose kids and adults to a variety of media. It’s such fun to make a mess and create something special at an art gallery or community center. Exciting classes and programs run through August. Take a look at The Boise Art Museum’s (BAM) camps and programs brochure, as well as listings in the Magazine’s Camp and Activity Guide (archived online at treasurevalleyfamily.com).
- Write Poems, Stories, Books. Writing camps at The Cabin promise beginning and blossoming writers the fun of working with professional writers. Kids are immersed in the community as they explore museums, trails, the river, and their own creativity. Publishing and sharing their writing at the end of the summer labels them as real authors.
- Play a Part or Be a Critic. Idaho Shakespeare Festival lets kids experience the life of a stage actor by participating in camps that encourage creativity and expression. Beyond the camp experience is a delightful season of plays to watch. Pack a picnic and take your kids on family nights. Try to read the play before the performance. This makes for more stimulating discussions after the play. Greater Idaho Family Theater for Youth also lets kids perform on stage during their 2012 Summer Performance Camp. Call for times and dates.
Paying attention to what goes on closest to home often gives us the most satisfaction. What about these possibilities?
- Listen to bird songs. Can you tell a robin from a finch or dove?
- Take time to watch your pets. Do they act goofy as they run through the sprinkler chasing a butterfly?
- Tend a garden of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs.
- Hold out your finger as a perch for a hummingbird. Stay still and maybe it will touch down on you.
- Take photos of family members, insects, and flowers. With digital cameras, there’s no film to waste.
- Start a summertime journal. Write and draw whatever makes you happy.
When we give our kids the chance to really breathe, we have accomplished something grand. Improved family relationships, more smiley faces and, ultimately, less stress. When classes begin in the fall, many teachers will give students a writing prompt they’ve responded to before: Write a paragraph about what you did this summer. It’s a sure thing that, this time, a parcel of memorable experiences will come tumbling out.
Judy Ware is a Boise writer who gets nostalgic remembering her childhood summers spent at Camp Sealth on Vashon Island in Washington.