Keep Active with Ultimate Summer Family Adventures

family bicycle safetySummer is a great time to increase physical activity for you and your family. There are lots of opportunities not available in winter (depending on where you live) and the longer days give ample time to get outside. However, it can also be a time when boredom sets in as kids lose their usual school-driven routine…and the temptation of sedentary video games is usually close at hand.

This summer, my family is doing better at being active and keeping boredom at bay – thanks to an idea from my thirteen year-old son (Thanks Elliott!). He calls it “Ultimate AdventurouSummer” (yes, the words are supposed to run together – he thinks it’s so clever!). Basically it involves a hat (or jar) full of fun family activities that you pull from randomly on a weekly basis. We have already engaged in mountain biking, a local ropes course (Go Ape), and a family badminton tournament. In addition to the physical activity benefits, we’ve also had a lot of fun together as a family, so it’s been great for bonding. Below is my son’s recipe for ultimate summer adventures.

Developing Ideas

  • Everyone in the family should come up with at least 5 ideas (oh, and they can’t just be the everyday activities like walking the dog or going for a family bike ride)
  • Most should be active ideas – but you can include projects too
  • Each should be feasible to do in one day or a weekend with not too much prep (we usually pick the week’s idea on Monday to do on the weekend)
  • It helps to do a little research on the ideas and activities in your area – it can be a great excuse to finally visit some local parks or activity centers
  • HOLD A FAMILY MEETING – review all the ideas and make any changes that are needed – discard any that are not appropriate (e.g. that mom and dad are not willing or able to do…bungie jumping?? – or that won’t work for the whole family)
  • Get the kids to write each approved activity on a slip of paper and pop them into the official summer fun jar or hat!

Doing the Adventures

  • Pick an idea several days ahead – you may need to do some preparation or get materials (we had to patch a tire for mountain biking) – plus this gives time for everyone to discuss and plan the adventure…which is part of the fun
  • Plan the activities – AND CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST – you may only have a few windows for some activities depending on rain/etc.
  • Do a checklist of things you need to take with you….we’ve had to go back home a couple of times
  • Build in some flexibility – we kept an idea for just my son and husband aside for a weekend when I was going to be away
  • Go out and have fun – and get active!

Here is a sample of some of our ideas:

  • Mountain biking
  • Ropes course (ropes climbing and zipline course)
  • Badminton tournament
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking at a local state park with our dogs
  • Parcour (at a local course)
  • Frisbee golf (who knew??)
  • We also included some less active, but fun projects:
    • Science project, from our son’s Backyard Ballistics book
    • Cooking a completely new meal, including a trip to a Farmer’s Market

We’ve already seen a lot of benefits from our Ultimate Adventurous Summer. It’s actually been a lot of fun, and since it’s kid-directed to a large extent, our son has been really engaged in the activities – including the preparations. Plus we’ve all been getting active…the ropes course required a good amount of exertion, but was a lot more fun than I expected. And we’ve created a lot of good family memories!

About the Author

Audra is an experienced pharmaceutical marketing professional, aspiring writer, and mother of Elliott, a high-spirited twenty-year old. Frequently tired but never bored, she has a strong interest in public health fostered by numerous years implementing global oncology education programs as well as by her twenty-year crazy (wild? amazing?) adventure in parenting. She recently earned a Masters in Public Health to augment her expertise in health policy and health promotion. Audra is a founding member of the PedSafe Team


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