Inspiration Station: Unstructured Summer Days

With summer vacation just around the corner, local kids (as well as those visiting for the summer) will be running wild throughout the Thousand Islands – and I hope that they do! When I was a kid, summer vacation meant days spent at Range Pond eating cheese curls on the white blanket, camping/canoeing/hiking with my family, summer camp (first Girl Scout Camp Pondicherry and in later years, Camp Yavneh) and also a whole lot of doing nothing except pedaling my hot-pink-paint-splattered Huffy down Elm St. and running free in the woods out back. To say it was glorious would be an understatement.

While my new job with TILT means a much more hectic summer, I do get weekends back for the most part, and part of my responsibilities include the fun KidsTreks I’ve been planning  – the purpose of which is to encourage kids to live and learn about conservation in the Thousand Islands. While I’m pretty pleased with the themes of the four KidsTreks I scheduled (2 of which are already filled to the max, with the other 2 close behind), I’m also a big believer in unstructured play.

Stumped for things to do? The blog 52 Brand New highlights 10 simple things every child should experience in the summer:

1. Catching fireflies  Fireflies are magical to a child.  Staying up a little late to chase them through the grass is one of summer’s best outdoor experiences.

2. Walking barefoot  Taking off your shoes removes the barrier between you and nature.  You feel the grass under your toes and, somehow, the whole world seems a little greener.

3. Running a lemonade stand The opportunities for teaching your child about money, responsibility, and entrepreneurship are almost endless, but the real reason every child should run a lemonade stand is that it is just plain fun!

4. Flying a kite  When you run alongside a kite, you feel almost as free as the kite itself.

5. Tending a garden  Gardening brings you close to nature- right in your own backyard.

6. Playing in the rain  Leave the umbrella inside or take it with you.  Playing in the rain means stepping out of the ordinary.  Get wet, stomp in puddles, and have a ball!

7. Spend time on a shore  Whether you go to a river, lake, or ocean, spending time by the water is an essential part of summer.  Building sand castles, swimming, collecting rocks, and investigating small water creatures are all part of the fun.

8. Have a picnic  Family dinners are a time to connect.  Why not move dinner outside on a beautiful summer evening?  Children love the novelty of stretching out instead of sitting in a chair.  Best part for Mom:  no table to wipe down and no chairs to sweep under!

9. Go stargazing  Staying up late to sit under the stars is a treat for the whole family.  Teach your child a few of the constellations and then make up a few of your own.  Talk about how big the universe seems.  Or just relish in the simple beauty of the night sky.

10. A Day With No Agenda  The best summer days are the lazy ones, the ones in which we head outside and see where the day brings us.  In our super busy lives, children need time to relax and explore their world at their own pace.

The most important thing is to get kids outdoors – and for you to go with them. And if you still need ideas, just read through some Calvin and Hobbes collections, preferably while laying on a hammock in the shade with some ice-cold lemonade on-hand!


Top Calvin and Hobbes comic from
Bottom comic from


3 thoughts on “Inspiration Station: Unstructured Summer Days

  1. Thank you so much for linking to my site! It looks like we are pretty like-minded! I hope your readers will head over to 52 Brand New and see what we do this summer. My last post was about a lemonade stand we had, and I think we might try picking vegetables at a local farm this week. (Depends on the weather!)

  2. No prob – I think your blog is wonderful! The way kids are raised shapes who they are later in life and you encouraging yours to experience new things every day is a great idea!

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