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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Summer Activities No Substitute for Vacation Time

These days, spring makes me think of greenery coming back to the frozen northland of the Upper Midwest, and the smell of lilacs in my neighborhood. But there was a time when spring also made me realize I needed to scramble to find summer activities for when my son wasn't in school.

There was a summer day camp for about seven or eight weeks, but the surrounding weeks were still needing to be filled up--unless we could all manage a vacation, but that would only last one week.
So, the odyssey began--and so did my research.

I found a range of summer activities at the local science museum (starting at 8 a.m., how did I ever get up that early?!) I also an old-fashioned schoolhouse experience for a week (that was probably a lot more fun that it might have been in the 1800s) and a week of theater activities. The trick was to find new and untried offerings every summer, or barring that, things my son really liked that were at least varied every year.

Meanwhile, I wished my husband and I had more time off in summer so we could have traveled more as a family. We mostly went to my husband's family cabin on the shore of Lake Superior and I know Josh loved it there, but I would have loved to have different kinds of trips and adventures.

We did get to the Black Hills one year for about a week, and collected the kind of stories I hope my son still remembers. We found a place called Cosmos that had some weirdly warped atmosphere so you could actually sit on the wall and find a lot of other gravitational oddities. We also saw the Crazy Horse monument and the Badlands along with a lot of wild life and parks.

I think taking family vacations gives you time to learn a little more about each other than you do in your every day lives. Because being with your family is a whole lot more fun than finding summer activities for just one of you. Rushing your kid to a summer "camp" or "class" and rushing to work yourself means one more thing you have to do. And shouldn't summer be about what you DON'T have to do?

I still wish I could have taken the summer off (ala the Gilmore Girls) when my son graduated high school. I'm not sure he would have wanted to go to Europe with me for an entire summer, but three weeks would have been wonderful.

Then again, there's still time to take a shorter trip together, maybe when he gets his degree next year. I've already started fantasizing about where we could go, and getting my husband to go with us.

Quebec. Jerusalem. Crete. Barcelona.

Just so long as there are no activities we have to plan... I'm in.

Mount Rushmore: Mike Tigas
Ocean: Peter Budd