Shoestring Parenting - School's Out! Now What Do We Do?

School is officially out in my neighborhood. Is it in yours? Even though my kids are older and are quite independent in the summer with jobs and friends, I still find myself looking out for creative fun ways for families to spend time together and for kids to fill those empty summer hours.
Of course the down time after all those hectic school days is wonderful and necessary but it is still a good idea to have some plans to keep the boredoms away.
Here are a few great summer activities that will motivate creativity, sportsmanship, family and friend time.

For Families
  • Go Bowling: Bowling centers all over the country are offering a Kids Bowl Free summer program. When you register for the program at your participating bowling center you will be emailed coupons weekly that allow your children to bowl free for 2 games a day. That is a great deal! They also offer reasonably priced family passes for up to 4 adults so that you all can bowl together. Go to the website for a list of bowling centers near you and for more information on how to register.
  • Go To the Movies: Regal Entertainment Group is offering a Free Family Film Festival; nine weeks of family friendly movies for kids and parents to see together for free. The movies are shown on Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting June 16. You can buy the tickets at the box office of participating theaters on a first come first served basis. Some of the movies that will be showing are: The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, Horton Hears a Who, Nims Island, Inkheart and Evan Almighty. For a list of all the movies and to find a participating theater in your area go to

For the Kids:
Drama Camp: Many community theaters offer summer drama camps and classes. Most are quite affordable and a few, like the one in my neighborhood, are free. Another local community theater in my area, The Pend Oreille Players Association, is offering a very affordable drama camp in August. If you are in North Idaho/Eastern Washington check out their website, and click on the newsletter for more information. Even if your kids aren't into acting, drama camp is a great place to grow creativity, build confidence and learn relational skills that they will use in school and all through their lives. Plus, it's Great Fun!

  • Sports Camps: Your local Parks and Recreation is the place to look for affordable sports activities. I also googled sports camps in Spokane Washington (or your city) and found a variety of camps available form different organizations. Professional teams often offer sports camps in the summer, so check out the website of your local professional team. Be sure that you check the ability level required for each camp. Some camps are geared toward kids with advanced skills while others are open to beginners. It's very important that you find a program that is a good fit for your child so that they have fun and don't get discouraged. Sports camps are a great way to get them involved in a new sport that they may want to play for years to come.
  • Visit Your Local Library: The library is one of my favorite summer places. It's cool, calm, full of great reads and information, movies and music. Best of all- it's free. Almost all libraries have summer story time and reading programs. They offer fun ways to encourage reading, get to know other kids and parents, make crafts, write stories and learn to love the library.
  • Go to VBS: The summer schedule is crammed with churches putting on Vacation Bible Schools. Most VBS's usually last a week and, if you're smart at scheduling, you can fit one or two VBS weeks a month into your summer list of things to do. A typical VBS day consists of energetic music, crafts, stories, games and snacks. Most churches will advertise their Vacation Bible Schools in the paper so keep your eyes open for this fun opportunity. Remember that most programs always need help so, if you can volunteer, give them a hand.
  • At the Y.M.C.A.: I grew up going to Day Camp at the Y. Fun memories! Swimming, crafts, field trips, new skills and lots of friends. To find a YMCA program near you go to

Do you have some free or reasonably priced summer activities to suggest? Share in the comments.
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