The last day of school in our house was more than two weeks ago. As usual, I feel the opportunities of summertime slipping away. In the twenty-one years I’ve been a mom, I’ve learned that life can get in the way and if I don’t plan outings and activities with my kids, even now that they are older, they won’t happen.
When we lived near Washington D.C. I scoured the Thursday edition of the Washington Post every week, hunting for something, anything, we could go experience as a family. Even with our limited budget, there were plenty of things to do. We saw a kite festival, a Native American Pow Wow, the National Book Festival, and many other amazing events that came to our nation’s capitol.
Nearly every part of the country has its own collection of fun activities. Local and regional papers have special columns that list events, if you take the time to track down their publishing schedules. Most chamber of commerce websites list tourist activities, which are fun for locals too.
My family recently attended the GoPro Mountain Games, an athletic event held in nearby Vail, Colorado. We’ve gone to the Winter X Games before, and the Mountain Games were similar, with one exception – amateurs could compete. Throughout the weekend there were expert competitions, like the Slackline World Championship and the Bouldering World Cup, but mixed into those events were things we could do, too. My 17-year-old son had a blast running in the annual Mud Run with heats for serious runners as well as a family (and dog!) heat.
He might re-think the kayak race next year, since the water was a chilly 35 degrees from mountain snow run off, but he had a lot of fun holding his own against other novice kayakers.
All weekend we bounced around, watching some events we’d never seen in person. Stand Up Paddling (SUP) is a fairly new activity in our area and it was fun to watch the competition. We were impressed by the Dock Dog competition, reminded how untrained our pooch is at home. And who knew there was something called Raft Cross, a two-person competitive raft race down whitewater rapids, in which teams show off their speed and agility? We saw it in person and it’s action packed!
Between the sweet freebies my kids scored from rows of outdoor vendors and the excitement of watching a wide variety of mountain related sports, the GoPro Mountain Games were a hit with our family. We will definitely add this event to our yearly list (and you should too, if you plan to be anywhere near Vail this time next year).
I found the Mountain Games by digging around. In our area we have a local magazine called 5280 (the elevation of Denver) and in the spring it’s a wealth of information about regional events. Look in the magazine rack at your grocery store. You just might find your own local magazine, full of things to do with your family this summer.
Here are some links for events that are held all over the country. Find a few that interest you and fit the ages of your children, and try them out. It’s fun to go to the zoo and local museums, but sometimes thinking outside the box can get you the type of fun that’s only possible in a rented kayak on freezing cold water.
Kayak competitions (The Jackson Family is legendary in the sport of kayaking and this is their blog, which keeps you up to date on kayaking news and events).
Get out there (with your kids) and have some fun. And feel free to leave your own suggestions for summer activities in our comment section. It’s fun to have fresh ideas for ways to make unique family memories.