Strong Families, Strong Daughters Blog

Making the Most of Summer

Kate Hadley
Summer can be a great time to grow intellectually, physically, spiritually, creatively, and in useful skills.

Many camps and internships have been cancelled and we are all scrambling to find ways to enrich our summer while still staying safe. From service to creative projects to getting outside, there are still many ways for your children to stretch themselves and discover new talents and adventures during these vacation months. When I talk to young people about how they will take advantage of their free time over the summer, I use the image of a four-legged stool.

First:  Keep those brain synapses firing. Stay active intellectually.  Read your summer reading, but expand beyond that.  Is there an epic novel you want to attempt?  Or an author you want to read more of?  What have you always wanted to learn about?  Are there any online classes that would be fun?  It doesn't have to be a lot, pick one thing. 

  • Make a grandparents’ Book: Interview your grandparents about some aspect of their life as a child or some aspect of history that they lived through and compile what they say into a book
  • Take a free art class online, such as the ones offered by the Museum of Modern Art 
  • Create an original board game or card game

Second:  Keep your body active.  That might be on a team or in a camp but it can also be self-directed.  Tennis, anyone? There are so many lawn games that are popular.  There is Cornhole, Spike, Bocci, even Yard Dice.  Or bring out the Slip and Slide and pretend you are eight years old again!

  • Commit to walk, run, or bike a marathon by Labor Day
  • Plant a garden 
  • Learn to dance—online videos can show you how to dance, like Salsa, the Waltz, the Cowboy Hustle or Swing Dancing

Third:  Keep your soul in touch with God.  Don't forget Him for three months. Commit to going to Confession once a month or saying a Rosary each day.  Find people in your neighborhood that need your attention, or quarantined grandparents who could use a letter. Even with physical distancing we can come up with creative ways to connect and serve others.  

  • Make cards for people in local nursing homes 
  • Challenge yourself to write 100 letters 
  • Make one meal a week for your family—challenge your friend to a contest in which you can only use ingredients you already have at home

Fourth:  Learn to do something new.  From typing to cooking to sewing, the list is endless. For older students I often suggest getting a job. While that might be more difficult this year, there are always unique ways to earn some money.  Or there is the tried and true method of mowing lawns. Having agency over some of your expenses is a solid step toward adulthood.

  • Learn how to put air in a tire or change the oil in a car
  • Learn a new language using the free Duolingo app
  • Learn guitar or the ukulele

Before you know it, it will be September and everyone will be complaining about too much homework. Let's not fritter away this glorious time. Have fun! 

Kate Hadley is the mother of ten children, four of whom are Oakcrest graduates–Elizabeth (‘98), Cecilia (‘99), Claire (‘02), and Meghan (‘06). She holds a B.A. in Economics from Notre Dame of Maryland University, and has a deep connection to Oakcrest as a parent and staff member. Mrs. Hadley served as Oakcrest's Director of Student Mentoring Program for 13 years. She was also Director of the Parent Support Program for many years, organizing speakers, giving parent education talks, and supporting the parents in their role as primary educators. She has trained as a Moderator and runs Family Enrichment classes (IFFD).
Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio