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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Remember when you were a kid and June came? School let out and you were on your own. Your mom told you to “use your imagination” and “find something to do.” You did – for a few weeks. Then boredom set in.

But at least once a summer, your parents probably arranged something really fun for you to do. It might have been a mini vacation, swim time or a family camping trip. And that’s when summer really started being fun.

We know it’s harder nowadays to schedule activities for summer. But it can be done. Set up a few fun things for your kids this summer and they’ll love you for it! Here are our favorite wallet-friendly, local ideas to beat the summer boredom blues.

  1. Tour your town. My eldest child did this on a class trip and it inspired one of our own. Find out where the points of interest in your town, including historic buildings, city hall and the coolest stores. Make a map in Gimp or Photoshop, print one from Google Maps or just type up directions on a document. Then plan your day.

Make sure the “town tour” includes a stopoff for a snack or lunch; if you like, pack a picnic to eat in the town park. If you can find out a fact or two about the places you’ll be visiting, you and your child will have something to talk about during the tour.

You’ll be amazed at how fascinating your very own town can be. I know I was. Seriously, do this. It’s an amazing day for kids.

  1. Visit the beach in your own back yard. What an awesome idea – a beach day, right at home! Decorate the “beach” area with cool surfer posters on your trees or the side of the house. Set out a table and place an inexpensive Hawaiian print tablecloth on top. Bring out a portable CD player or your ipod and put on some fun surfer tunes.

If you have a sandbox, great! If not, set up towels in your back or side yard. Set out a sprinkler, or just turn on the hose and let the kids jump through. Make a run to your local dollar store to find cheap plastic pool toys, games and the like for your party.

Don’t forget the sunscreen! It’s as easy to get a nasty sunburn in your own back yard as it is on the real beach.

Prepare fun beach style snacks. Cut up fruit pieces, hollow a watermelon and place the fruit pieces inside. Cook up mini hot dogs and sliders (mini burgers). Make cold, frosty fruit drinks and pour into colorful plastic or paper cups.

Invite friends. Your children’s friends will be thrilled to have something great to do that day. And later in the summer, their parents may return the favor, showing your own kids a good time.

  1. Get physical. Here’s a way for you to keep your kids active in the summer – and to get yourself fit, too. Make a regular play date time with your children (a few years ago I chose Friday afternoons at 4pm, when work offered summer hours). That date and time are firm!

Now find something physical to do. Find hiking sites within driving distance, slather on the bug spray and go for it. Bring a soccer ball to the park and practice kicks, dribbling and throw-ins. Take a walk downtown to see the sights. Visit the school’s basketball court and shoot some hoops. There are so many ways to take advantage of the great summer weather without spending a penny, and they’re good for you, so go for it!

Remember: even the occasional ten minutes with your child can make a summer day special. Read to your little one at night. Let him help make dinner when you come home from work. Watch a silly movie together. These are the summer memories that will last your child a lifetime.

Chris Molnar is a stay at home Dad who is cherishing his summer with his kids. With camping trips, the zoo and several park excursions planned, he’s also planning a local water park and a corn maze they have never yet been to. Chris is the editor of a party theme website, and you can visit his Facebook page here.

Image courtesy of nycstreets via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to create an awesome summer.