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‘Summertime And The Livin’ Is Easy’

The above title comes from a George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward 1934 aria, used in the 1935 opera, Porgy and Bess. (This summer, the livin’ might not be as easy as past ones.)

As we enter the real part of summer (though COVID-19 actually created a spring/summer vacation, but kids have attended virtual school since March, so we’ll still call this the second half of summer for the purpose of this narrative), kids might be facing more time needing activity.

School’s officially been out for weeks, though, understandably, some parents feel their kids have been home forever. I’m sure, many parents have already heard the seemingly neverending complaint, “There’s nothing to do.” It seems like that’s when kids resort to their mobile babysitter, their phone, and spend days thumbing their way into oblivion. But, is there really nothing to do? The VFTB disagrees with that complaint and offers proof that there’s much to do, some of it costing a mere pittance, most at no cost, and in only a very few situations will they need the use of their mobile phones to do these things. The VFTB refers them to the following list of summertime activities. (Please note, the list includes outdoor, indoor, socially distant applicable, and mask wearing activities)

1. Take advantage of playgrounds (if open)

2. Roger Tory Peterson Institute

3. Fenton Historical Society

4. Robert H. Jackson Center

5. Jamestown Audubon Society

6. Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame

7. Read books — maybe organize a youth book club group in your neighborhood.

8. Sandlot hames (baseball, softball, football, basketball, soccer, red rover, hide-n-seek, etc.) Do ones that will allow them to stay socially distant. (masks and distance)

9. Visit a library. Check out microfilm of old newspapers, look for family birth announcements or obituaries. Check out war reports, prices of goods in the ads, maybe comparing how they’ve changed from 50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 5, and one year ago.

10. Observe nature but don’t disturb – see, listen to, smell, touch it where you can and should, (you may not want to taste it until someone buys it at the grocery store, takes it home and cleans it.) After observing, then sketch, paint, write about it (narratives, poems, etc.)

11. Contact elderly neighbors, seeing if there’s anything you can do for them, spend time talking with them. Ask questions about when they were kids and what kinds of things they did. Run errands for them if they need something.

12. Pick up trash around your neighborhood. (Alone, or with friends.)

13. Sign up to attend available local day camps.

14. Go on hikes.

15. Visit cemeteries. Find out about relatives buried there, or any dignitaries there.

16. Make a new friend (two? more?).

17. Do an Alex’s Lemonade Stand (more than one?).

18. Learn how to cook (adult supervision required).

19. Keep a journal, diary, or log of your summer activities. Be descriptive of things seen or experienced. Share feelings felt, impressions, ups and downs, etc.

20. Join the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA (if operating safely) and participate.

21. Experience College Park (formerly Hundred Acre Lot). Study trees, plants, insects, creek life, rocks, etc. Take pictures, then head to a library to use Roger Tory Peterson Field Guides to identify what you saw.

22. Discover Allen Park for all things listed in 21.

23. Play organized sports (baseball, softball, soccer, etc.).

24. Organize neighborhood board game tournaments. If kids have open garages, set up card tables in the garage, and free play or have a tournament.

25. Ride bikes around neighborhoods stopping at historic markers, or statues, along your ride and read about local history.

26. Pick up disposed bottles and cans, take them to the recycling center, and make some money for yourselves.

27. Create your own comic book (or more).

28. Attend events at the Northwest Ice Arena. (if open)

29. Visit the National Comedy Center. (Family outing)

30. Do things around the house (inside and/or outside) without being told.

31. Suggest a family jaunt to Chautauqua Institution on a Sunday and learn about this amazing cultural village.

32. Camp out in your backyard with the whole family.

33. Volunteer at local playgrounds, churches, organizations, and/or centers.

I’m sure there are many more than what’s included on this list, but this could take away some of those “Summertime Blues” kids may be experiencing right about now. It’s worth a try!

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