75 Ways for Military Families to have the Best Summer Ever

School is out later this week for my son. This morning, he and I got in a bit of an argument and after he got on the school bus, I thought to myself, “We are going to drive each other crazy this summer…”

Summer’s more relaxed schedule can cause the familiar, “I’m bored” cry from the children in your home. Never fear. I have some weapons in my mom arsenal to help you *gasp* look forward to summer break! Balancing my part-time work-from-home schedule with a seven-year-old and a wide open schedule (and a number of weeks where my husband will be long gone with the Army) can be intimidating.

I’m getting ahead of it this week!

With a little advanced planning and scheduling, there are a few things you can do to prep for summer and make the most of this time as a family.

First, I plan one bigger outing per week like visiting Blue Star Museums (#66) or hiking at a local state park (#30).

Next, I fill in the rest of the week with less structured ideas like drawing a giant hopscotch and inviting our neighbor kiddos over for some fun. We always participate in a library reading program (#46) and we set goals and create a visible tracking chart to keep us motivated rather than overwhelmed (#58).

Last summer I cut up slips of paper with ideas and popped them into a big jar. When I heard the B-Word…(you know, B-O-R-E-D!), the jar appeared and we picked an activity to do. I think I’ll cut up a bunch of the ideas below to refresh our jar this year!

Cheers to your Best. Summer. Ever!

  1. Attend a civic concert
  2. Attend a story time or program at the library (or multiple libraries!)
  3. Build an obstacle course
  4. Catch butterflies
  5. Catch fireflies
  6. Check out a baseball game
  7. Check out local happenings for movies, live music, and more in local parks
  8. Check out Youth Center activities (Find your local Youth Center by selecting “Youth Programs/Centers” and entering your installation into the search field)
  9. Climb trees
  10. Cool off with indoor ice skating or roller skating
  11. Count seconds between thunder and lightning
  12. Create a local park tour list and visit them all
  13. DIY popsicles
  14. DIY spa day: Make your own sugar scrub and paint your nails
  15. Draw a giant hopscotch
  16. Drink root beer floats or purple cows
  17. Enjoy matinee pricing at the local theater with an early flick
  18. Explore local historic landmarks
  19. Get imaginative while watching clouds
  20. Get lunch or dinner from a food truck
  21. Give fishing a try
  22. Give geocaching a try
  23. Go berry picking
  24. Go camping at one of these Joint Services Campgrounds & Facilities (or set up a tent in your backyard!)
  25. Go fishing
  26. Go mini golfing
  27. Go to a zoo
  28. Go to the farmers’ market and try a new vegetable
  29. Have a watermelon seed spitting contest
  30. Hike at a local state or county park
  31. Host a bubble blowing contest with your neighbors
  32. Host a neighborhood talent show or singing contest
  33. Host a picnic with friends or neighbors
  34. Learn a new skill (coding for younger kids, coding for older kids, playing the ukelele, origami, try a new recipe, juggling, french braiding, sewing, creating a web page, writing a short story, etc.)
  35. Make a lemonade stand
  36. Make a neighborhood mini-carnival
  37. Make a slip-n-slide
  38. Make giant bubbles
  39. Make a summer journal or scrapbook to log your daily fun
  40. Make ice cream
  41. Make lemonade from scratch
  42. Make pizzas on the grill
  43. Make s’mores
  44. Make sun tea
  45. Pack a lunch and take a mini day trip on bikes
  46. Participate in the DoD Summer Reading Program
  47. Pick a family summer theme song and blast it often
  48. Picnic lunch at a new park
  49. Plan a theme week with a book or movie series…incorporate foods, crafts, and activities into the theme
  50. Plant a garden or flowers
  51. Play in a rainstorm
  52. Play in puddles
  53. Play the telephone game with your neighbors
  54. Rent a kayak or canoe
  55. Rent fun bikes or paddle boats
  56. Roast marshmallows over a bonfire
  57. Scavenger hunt around your neighborhood (this one is fun or create your own using simple things like leaves, pinecones, pretty rocks, bird feather, etc.)
  58. Set a summer book reading goal and make a poster to check off each book or minutes read
  59. Set up an outdoor movie in your backyard
  60. Sign up for summer camp (a few places to get started: Operation We Are Here, Operation Purple. For Reserve and National Guard families, ask your local family support centers)
  61. Splash at a local installation’s aquatic center
  62. Stay up late for the Perseid Meteor Shower (peaks August 12)
  63. Stop at the ITT (Information, Tickets, and Travel Office) for local events, museums, and more
  64. Take a spin on the ferris wheel at a local fair or festival
  65. Tie-dye T-shirts or pillowcases
  66. Tour one Blue Star Museum each week throughout the summer
  67. Try a LEGO challenge
  68. Vacation in a neighboring city: use TripAdvisor forums to explore like a local or tourist
  69. Visit a National Park for free
  70. Visit a nature center
  71. Visit a splash pad
  72. Visit your MWR Office to try a new activity (kayaking, canoeing, boating, paddle boarding, etc.)
  73. Volunteer as a family or earn money to donate to a charity
  74. Watch a parade
  75. Write letters to family far away


About Jolene McNutt

Jolene McNutt is a writer, editor, and graphic designer. She co-owns a business with her retired teacher dad creating hands-on resources for elementary and middle school teachers. Jolene has been married to her extroverted husband, Phil, for nine years. Phil is serving as part of the Active Duty Guard Reserve (AGR) in the Wisconsin Army National Guard - possibly the best kept secret in the Army! They have a six-year-old son, Finn, and a 90-pound lap dog, Odin. Jolene enjoys traveling, reading, and making allergy friendly recipes for Finn. Despite her introverted nature, Jolene loves hosting friends and family. Find her on Instagram @jolenemichelle1.

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