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I love a good all-you-can-eat buffet—my very favorite meal is the kind that includes “a little bit of a lot.”

I look forward to summer activities for the same reason. Having spent the school year with a full plate and steady diet of soccer practice, dance lessons, games and performances, I’m ready for a change. Summer is the perfect time to slow down, relax, and enjoy nibbling from the “extracurricular buffet” available courtesy of seasonal camps and classes.

With so much to choose from in our community, here are a few recommendations for the Summer Menu:

“I’ll Have What She’s Having.”

It always seems that the most appetizing dish  . . . is the one on someone else’s plate! Is there an activity you’ve been eying from afar? Summer is a great time to try it. Personal recommendations offer a logical starting point, so make the most of reviews from trusted activity critics:

  • What did you like best about this activity?
  • Who do you like best for this activity?
  • What (if anything) would you do differently next time?

Family Style

During the school year, it’s a challenge to get everyone to the table together, let alone engaged in the same activity! Take advantage of the summertime lull to check out local services and studios for family classes and discounts. (We spent an unforgettable season learning kicks and punches together in a family martial arts class. There is nothing like practicing self-defense moves with one’s husband for creating an epic date night!)

Just Like Mom Used to Make

As we equip our children in their gifts and talents, let’s not forget to include a few servings of our own! Over the years, I’ve made a point to hand down a few time-honored recipes for family fun.

dollhouseMy mother and I once built a dollhouse together, sparking a lifelong interest/obsession in miniatures that I have shared with my children. It took us a couple of attempts and many years to finish our own house properly, but the result was beautiful—as were the memories created in the process. My teenage daughter and I spent a precious summer discussing cars and boys as we painted trim and pasted wallpaper!

You never know where such interests may lead. I first discovered archery at summer camp as the perfect sport for the hopeless athlete. (Good marksmen are those who excel in not moving!) I found it so rewarding I thought it might make an interesting summer pastime for my kids.  With the help of Midway P.E. teacher/archery coach Brenda Schaefer, we got the basic equipment and took aim in our backyard. Our son Evan loved it so much he went on to compete with South Bosque’s National Archery in the Schools Program—all the way to the national tournament! (If he keeps it up, he might even qualify for college money for archers.)

  • What are some interests or activities you pursued as a child?
  • What do you love to do as an adult? What are some of your gifts and talents?
  • How can you share these with your child(ren)?

Feed the Hungry

Volunteer efforts never fail to be nutritious and satisfying for all. Don’t wait for the holidays to make community service a cherished family tradition. There are many ways for individuals and families to help others during the summer; with numerous services to choose from, you are sure to find the best fit for your family schedule and palate.


As you nibble, sample and snack from the best that summer activities have to offer, take note of those that you want to include as regular fall fare.

Read the Label. Take advantage of the Internet by checking out league/studio websites for plenty of useful information. In addition to class schedules and contact information, many also post photo galleries, mission statements and more. Follow on Facebook or Twitter for regular updates.

Feel free to call for more information before committing to enrollment, especially the long-term kind. Any worthwhile director will be happy to answer your questions, and some will even invite you to come in for a more personal discussion. With such a wide variety of options, you are entitled to learn all you can as you seek to make the best choice for your child.

Taste-Test. Become an invested spectator by taking a front row seat at many extracurricular activities.

  • Daily. Many studios have viewing facilities that allow you to drop by and watch classes in session.
  • Seasonally. On any given Saturday, on ball fields and in gyms all over town, our children are competing in team sports:  football, baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc. Attending games is a fun and inexpensive way to enjoy some lively competition, as well as an opportunity to support friends. (Be sure and watch the coaches and parents, along with the players!)
  • Annually. Late May/early June is prime time for dance recitals.  In a few short hours, experience the best that local studios have to offer.

If you enjoy what you see, what you hear—and who you run into—you will likely appreciate adding these activities to your plate. It’s a challenge to keep the active family fed—but perhaps a stop at the summer buffet will make it a little more appetizing.

Good luck—and happy dining!


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