Posted Megan Gildin on 7/6/2015 |Featured Columns & Series
For years, my friends and I always celebrated the start of summer vacation in the same way – walking to Dairy Queen on the last day of school and devouring an entire ice cream cake with plastic spoons as our weapon of choice. This embodied all of our hopes for summer – no rules, no agenda, just having fun. For my mom and dad, it’s safe to assume that this day signified the beginning of making sure I always had on sunscreen and the count down until the inevitable morning I walked downstairs, lamenting, “I’m boooored.”
While the kid in me would like to think I spent the summer doing whatever I wanted, without a care in the world, the youth worker in me appreciates the thought my parents put into how my brothers and I spent our summer days. This summer, on behalf of Girls on the Run, I encourage you to find ways for your girl to live the lessons she learned at Girls on the Run and continue to nurture her physical, emotional and spiritual health.
To do this, first and foremost, encourage your girl to stay active! There are many way to incorporate physical activity into summer fun. Riding bikes with a friend, playing a game of kickball, or even playing a game of “fishy, fishy, cross my ocean” in the pool, all allow young people to get moving and connect with others.
Another way to keep your girl active is to come up with summer challenges together by setting goals such as running twice a week, working on some new dance moves for 30 minutes a day or simply walking the dog each morning. These activities will help young people build both confidence and competence. By tracking progress, they can see their commitment and improvement along the way!
Setting goals is not just limited to physical activity. Maybe your girl is interested in science or theater. Helping her find a camp or community class, or even doing experiments at home will allow her to explore an area of interest and can help increase her sense of self and competence. One of my favorite summer memories involved spending a solid week creating an obstacle course and attempting to train my dog, Henry. Looking back, the “go for it” attitude of my mom, as well as Henry’s indifference to mild torture, allowed that to happen. As caretakers, it is important for us to use phrases like “What do you think?” and “Try it out, just do your best,” in order for young people to feel confident and empowered.
Finally, encouraging young people to find ways to help others during the summer months is a great way to develop GOTR values. This can be something as simple as deciding on chores around the home – unloading the dishwasher, taking out the trash or even watering the plants. Additionally, finding opportunities in the community, such as volunteering at a food bank or community garden, is a great way for young people to develop care for others and feel as though they are contributing to something larger than themselves. A great way to engage your girl in helping others is through modeling these activities yourself.
All in all, you cannot go wrong with joy-filled summer activities, but being intentional can allow for immense growth on the part of your young person. No matter how you decide to engage your girl this summer, whether it is going for walks or giving her the supplies to build her own board game, don’t forget sunscreen and maybe an ice cream sandwich here and there.