Another summer’s almost over here in Western North Carolina. Asheville City School students return to school on August 16 — which means it’ll still feel like summer in terms of heat, but it won’t feel like summer for the young ‘uns spending all day sitting in classrooms.
But we still have a couple weeks left of sweaty boredom, afternoons at the pool, summer camps, forced summer reading and juggling adult work schedules.
Between all that, here are some last minute, inexpensive summer fun activities that you can check out with your kids.
1. Waterfalls and swimming holes. WNC is awash in both. If you don’t know of any, check on-line at www.swimmingholes.org to locate. Yes, gasoline’s pricey right now, but we live in a city with two rivers running through it. There are so many places to jump in. Use common sense, please. Don’t let kids dive into murky water or walk along the tops of waterfalls.
2. Float the French Broad. Buy tubes at your local tire shop (only about $8 each). Drop one car at The Bywater. Drive the other to Hominy Creek or Amboy Park. Then jump in the river. Take sunscreen and water bottles with you. Also, if your kids can’t last four hours without food, take snacks in a waterproof bag.
3. Teach kids to earn their keep (or at least earn some spending money). Help them set up a lemonade stand (all you need is a table, a pitcher, lemonade, cups and some change). If your offspring are old enough, let them pull weeds or wash cars for neighbors. Challenge them to come up with ways to make extra cash — whether around the home or from (adult) friends and neighbors.
4. Family pajama day! My son would live in his pajamas 24/7 if we let him. In his mind, there is no bigger luxury than lolling around in his pjs. On really hot days, I’m there with him. I’m writing in p.j.s. He’s reading in pjs. Then we have popcorn for dinner and stream a movie—all in our pjs. It’s kind of awesome.
5. Volunteer. Teach kids to donate their time, especially since they have loads of that commodity in the summer. The Asheville Humane Society and MANNA Foodbank are two local organizations that will put kids to work — and what could be more rewarding? Also, www.waystohelp.org lists thousands of volunteer opportunities that want volunteer help from kids and teens.
6. Teach kids a new skill, preferably one that doesn’t require an investment of lots of time and money. Sewing, gardening, cooking — all are life skills that kids can learn. Yes, they’ll make messes and mistakes, but that’s OK provided they don’t burn the house down.
7. Let them create. Bring out the art supplies. Every parent I know has random art supplies that they’ve thrown in closets or basements and forgotten about. Send your kids on a “treasure” hunt for art supplies (unless you’re so organized that you actually know where they all are — in which case, I hate you). Also, remember that stuff like cardboard, magazines, recyclables, wire and stuff from nature can be used for art projects. Ever glued rocks and grass into patterns onto a milk carton? Why not? It’s fun.
8. Let them do nothing. Research shows that “do nothing” time sparks creativity. Daydreaming, lying in the grass watching the clouds, and just hanging out are valid and valuable. We’d all benefit tremendously from more hammock time.
Have fun these next few weeks. See y’all back in school.