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Marla Smart: Things to do this summer

When I was growing up, summer was free time, crafts, fun in the sun, exploring and swimming.

It was also sunburns, boring days, hot weather and flies (I hate flies!).

When I was old enough to drive and have a job, my summer consisted of work and some play. I was able to do a lot of the same things, but with age came a lot more responsibility (which meant if I didn’t get my own job, my farmer dad would “employ” me at the farm hoeing and spraying weeds. Oh yes, and fending off massive amounts of flies while walking rows and rows of cotton under the intensely hot, cloudless skies of Texas’ Great Plains).

As a mom, summer is a little different. I have been blessed during my mom years to have summers off, or at least free enough to spend time with the kids. When they were little, a sprinkler in the backyard, the park, the swimming pool, a friend’s house… all great fun.

Now, they spend a lot of time with their electronics… TV, video games, phones, computers. Invariably, I hear “I’m bored! What can I do?”

I’ve noticed that many kids today (mine are definitely included) are so plugged in that they can’t function without stimulation of some kind.

That’s sad.

It seems imagination has been replaced by cell phones, video games and the Internet. There’s a time and place for all that, but I think everyone (Mom included) should consider getting back to basics.

We know how important it is to keep building a relationship with your kids. You can’t do that online! Shut everything down that is not necessary and get out there this summer for a new adventure. It doesn’t have to cost a dime if you don’t have it.

Here are a few of ideas for summer fun:

-- "I’m bored" jar: Make a jar filled with activities and chores on slips of paper. If someone says they are bored, they draw from the jar and do whatever is said for 30 minutes. Links to templates can be found here.

-- Geocaching: A free, real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online.

-- Hiking and camping: In Douglas County, we have the North Umpqua Trails.

-- In our own “backyard,” we have Wildlife Safari. Even for adults, the trip can be full of fun. If you can’t afford the drive through, check out the Village.

-- Free bowling. Ten Down is participating in the Kids Bowl Free program. Sign up your kids ages 15 and younger for two free games every day all summer long. You can even buy a pretty generous family pass for a good price.

What does your family do for fun in the summer? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Marla Smart is married with three teenagers. Read her Fridays on Douglas County Moms. Also check out her personal blog here.

I’ve noticed that many kids today (mine are definitely included) are so plugged in that they can’t function without stimulation of some kind.

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The News-Review Updated Nov 18, 2013 07:29PM Published Jun 10, 2013 10:50PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.