Celebrating Summer On a Shoestring

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As a child, I loved my summer activities in Lee County. My favorite day-camp as a Girl Scout Brownie was at Spring Villa. Out in the woods we had our different cabins we stayed in as troops. This is where we worked on our badges and crafts. We loved swimming in the very cold spring-fed pool for swimming lessons and swimming fun. Even though as children our lips were purple and our teeth chattered as we jumped and dived into Spring Villa pool, it was just plain fun to pretend to be a polar bear in the heat of summer.

I can still hear the lunch bell ringing at the big white house at Spring Villa (William Penn Younge’s Home) as we ran to enjoy a picnic lunch under the shade of many trees. The last day of camp we celebrated the week with cold watermelon slices and popsicles! There is nothing better than good old summer camp. That was 60 years ago, but the memories are warm, loving and simple.

Another camp that richly warms my heart with warm memories and encouragement is “Cousin Camp,” at my grandparents’ home in Salem, Alabama. My grandmother and grandfather had a thriving vegetable garden every summer. We grandchildren would help my grandmother as best we could with shelling butterbeans and peas and shucking corn, and she would allow us to help her can fruit jelly as best as our little hands could do. I truly loved the smells of homemade scuppernong jelly, apple jelly and applesauce. My favorite memory was to go help my grandparents on Saturday evening to clean the church nursery and sanctuary at Salem. We grandkids loved to polish the pulpit and pretend we were preaching.

Too, we loved making the pews shiny. In the summer we had to lay out the cardboard fans at the ends of the pews. My grandmother had so much patience with her grandchildren in teaching all of us how to do things around the farm and in the kitchen. Their home had happy hearts. The door was always open to all, memories were created, and love always endured. We always had a blast of fun doing the very simple things at “Cousin Camp.”

The pandemic has hit all of us health-wise and financially. This summer for our children and grandchildren may not be like the ones our children are used to, but we can provide a fun-filled summer right from our homes. Let’s make our children’s summer one to remember with little costs.

Right now we are not sure when Vacation Bible Schools at our local churches will take place. As a parent, you can check into this online or call the churches for your family. Too, it might be a virtual Vacation Bible School this summer. I have truly enjoyed the weekly children’s programs that have been offered online through Facebook and e-mail with the different churches. The weekly programs online for preschool, kindergarten, elementary and youth offer wonderful Bible lessons, arts and crafts to reinforce the lessons, activities, videos and yummy snack ideas! As a parent you can offer your children weekly Bible time and activities to start off their days and weeks in the right direction.

The local libraries are open with restrictions in place such as limited services and reduced occupancy. The library staff are so helpful in finding resources for your families to have a reading-enriched summer. Too, I have enjoyed the virtual story hours. Library staffs have gone the extra mile in meeting community reading needs.

Too, use the Opelika Observer to point out different events happening in the community. Our local newspaper is community- and family-friendly in finding out what is going on in the county that may be of interest for families to go to and social distance.

Too, this summer, families can plan to have a vacation atmosphere in their homes. Pick up your family’s favorite video or DVD, plan to have fun family picnics –– let the children help you “no matter how messy the sandwich.” Pull out favorite board games such as Boggle, Checkers, puzzles, etc. Camp out in the backyard or spread a tent out inside.

This can even be done by making tents out of bedsheets. In keeping children in my home during many summers, bedsheets can also serve as a playhouse or circus tent to do a lot of pretend play for hours inside.

Another shoestring favorite is to safely observe different summertime insects. I know we all remember the days of chasing fireflies and safely observing roly-polys, ants, etc., for hours.

Summertime has nature sounds choirs such as croaking frogs, peepers, katydids and birds chirping in the mornings and evenings.

You and your children can listen to the different sounds and identify them.

Another daily activity that young children love to do during the summer is to watch the weather. One observation that young meteorologists love to do is to watch the formation of clouds. Guide your child’s eye to identify three different kinds of clouds.

Cirrus clouds are feathery clouds that look like they have a curl. I tell young children they look like pulled cotton candy. Usually cirrus clouds are associated with fair weather.

Cumulus clouds are heaping clouds! They look like pillows you can jump on. It’s neat to point out to your child these clouds building up for a summer afternoon shower. Too, cumulus clouds are the ones we usually can look at and make shapes. Stratus clouds look like layers or blankets and produce rain and drizzle. They are dark and usually produce lightning and thunder.

I hope these few simple ideas help parents to plan a simple, fun-filled summer as we work and live through our new normal this summer day by day. I will try to help parents by suggesting activities for their children to enjoy through Classroom Observer this summer.

Too, to end a good summer day after summer showers, be sure to look for those beautiful arching rainbows! Remember your child is a promise to you. Savor the moments to enjoy each day.

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