Summer bucket list
When I was five, my parents took the family to Disney World. I hardly remember it. Given how expensive and onerous a trip it was, I wish I could say it’s one of my greatest childhood memories. But I honestly remember very little.
The camping trips to Terra Nova and Gros Morne? Those are embedded in my mind forever. Counting stars on the beach in Port aux Basques accompanied by the crackle of the driftwood fire? I dream of it. Squealing as cold ocean waves lapped over my hips? Exploring the old mill in Glovertown then diving off a cliff into the Terra Nova River and letting the current carry me downriver only to climb out and repeat again a million times? Riding my bike to Petty Harbour to pick blueberries? All the greatest moments of my life, the things I reel through my brain as I drift off to a peaceful slumber at night.
For many parents, summer is a time to first of all, get the kids busy at some camp or activity to save on babysitting costs and second of all, plan a summer vacation.
There are vacations I remember: a bed and breakfast in PEI where I slept on a feather bed; travelling to Expo 86 in Vancouver… and that’s about it. I know my parents took us on more vacations than that, and I’m sure if I racked my brain I could come up with others, but they don’t flow as easily as those memories recounted above.
The fact is, children don’t remember the big moments the same way adults do. And in fact, as most vacations involve expense, stress, standing in lines, annoying and boring travel, and staying in unfamiliar places, some children will remember them as something unpleasant, not a great moment.
When we are children, the day-today and the extraordinarily ordinary moments are what become lasting memories. We remember playing with sticks and rocks, not the new toys we got for Christmas. In the same way, we remember those small pleasures of summer over the big vacations.
So if you really want to create memories with your child while also keeping the summer doldrums at bay, you might want to consider expending less time, energy and expense in planning a summer vacation and save yourself a little of that expenditure for a greater return by creating a summer bucket list.
In my opinion, no child should make it into adulthood without:
• Swimming in the ocean and drying in the sun;
• Building a sandcastle taller than mom or dad;
• Rolling and skidding down a sand dune;
• Flying a kite;
• Having a crabapple fight;
• Playing Spotlight;
• Catching sticklebacks in a jar;
• Dangling a hook off the wharf for Connors;
• Starting a snail colony in their bedroom;
• Getting grass stains on all their shorts;
• Covering themselves in mud head-to-toe; • Building a tree fort;
• Building a dam;
• Climbing a tree (handy for those crabapple fights);
• Picking mussels off the rocks;
• Finding a fossil;
• Camping – even if only in the backyard;
• Making smores;
• Collecting driftwood for a fire;
• Playing ball hockey in the street;
• Catching butterflies with their mother’s pantyhose; • Building an obstacle course;
• Skimming a stone more than three skips;
• Going on a bike adventure with their friends;
• Climbing a mountain (even if it’s only a mountain to them);
• Carving an arrow from a branch;
• Discovering sea glass on the beach;
• Catching caplin in a rubber boot;
• Picking wild edibles;
• Selling lemonade or worms;
• Planting a garden — whether decorative or edible, in a plot of land of a pot of soil.
That’s the bucket list my family will be working on this summer. Use it as inspiration to create your own or just take it as a cheat sheet. Talk with your kids about what they ’d l ike to do. Guaranteed they’ll be quicker to say “go to the park” or “play at the beach” than they will be to say “visit an allinclusive resort in Mexico.” And the money you save on airfare and hotels by going on mini staycations instead of a long vacation can be used for Mom and Dad to take a weekend getaway without the kids, for a real vacation.