It’s amazing what an impact a great summer can have on kids. Summer is all about warm weather, fun activities and making new friends. For working parents, though, the end of the school year can bring worries about how to keep kids safe and entertained during summer break. While teenagers often voluntarily take on a summer job to keep themselves occupied, “tweens” (kids age 10-12) are too young for a job but too old for daycare.
Finding the right activities for kids of every age group is the key. One thing is universally loved—that is, getting outdoors! It’s a fact: American kids today spend more time than ever on their cell phones and laptops and playing video games, and less time outdoors1. This has a significant impact on kids’ physical, mental and emotional health and development. Play is important for physical, social, and cognitive well-being for kids of all ages—from toddlers to teenagers2. But, our increasingly hurried lifestyles are straining the amount of unstructured playtime our kids get to enjoy. The old expression, “Go play outside!” could definitely stand to be resurrected.
Summer Camp Offers Fun Memories to Last a Lifetime
Summer break offers the perfect opportunity for kids to join a summer sleep away camp, many of which offer a wide range of activities, from paintball, to water activities like fishing, sailing and kayaking, to martial arts, to photography and arts & crafts. Whatever your kid’s interests, summer camp is a great way to get outdoors, have fun, learn new skills and make new friends.
Freestyle Play is Important for Kids, Too
While unstructured, freestyle play with friends may seem like “goofing off,” kids are actually learning important skills when they play on their own terms, including how to negotiate, cooperate and compromise3. Kids are surprisingly adept at problem solving, cooperating and meeting each other’s needs when they play together, helping them develop critical social relations skills that will serve them throughout life.
Here are some simple suggestions you can offer your kids to get them outdoors (and off their electronic devices) during the warm summer months.
· Ride your bike at the park
· Chase fireflies or butterflies
· Sleep outside under the stars in your backyard
· Take a local hike
· Have a watermelon seed spitting contest
· Watch the sunrise or the sunset
· Take your dog on a walk or play fetch at the dog park
· Run through the sprinklers
· Set up a lemonade stand with friends
· Learn how to hula-hoop
· Plant flowers in your yard
· Take a picnic to a local recreation area with friends
· Have a pool party
· Play on the swings at the park
The mission of River Way Ranch Camp is to challenge kids and positively influence their futures through memorable camp experiences. River Way has been providing exceptional camper experiences for 47 years, and we take pride in carefully selecting our camp staff. River Way has an unmatched safety record and employs only the most caring and compassionate mentors. We offer over 75 activities to keep kids active and engaged. To learn more about the River Way difference, visit our website at riverwayranchcamp.com.
1. Kaiser Family Foundation, Page Accessed 05/22/14, http://kff.org/disparities-policy/press-release/daily-media-use-among-children- and-teens-up-dramatically-from-five-years-ago/
2. Pediatrics, Page Accessed 05/22/14, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182.full