Our Cub Scout den is enjoying a summer hiatus during July and August, which is something I highly recommend for even the overachieving den moms and dedicated Cubmasters.
The break makes me realize how much extra mental energy and tallied hours I can now redirect to home and family. However, one thought keeps pricking my conscience: Why don’t I invest equal thought, planning and creativity into weekly family home evening activities as I have spent preparing for weekly den meetings?
So the following is a compilation of ideas for summer family home evenings taken from Cub Scout manuals. If you have a Cub Scout in your family, you can help him pass off achievements together. If not, they are still fun ideas for families of any age or composition:
• Play a series of ball games involving dribbling, passing and catching, or go swimming and have a treading contest
• Sing patriotic songs, learn about your state’s flag and find a place to display your nation’s flag in your home
• Make a chart to keep track of healthy habits for two weeks, like tallying how many glasses of water you drink each day, how many times you’ve brushed and flossed your teeth, how many hours of sleep each night, etc.
• Visit a historic site or government building in your community
• Build something useful in your home together using wood and tools
• Start a collection as a family and find a way to display it proudly
• Plan family meals for one week, and have each child be in charge of one of them, including everything from setting the table to washing the dishes. Plan one of the meals to be prepared and cooked outside.
• Teach bike safety rules in your neighborhood and go on a bike ride together
• Make up a new beanbag game
• Go for a walk in the woods
• Visit a museum or zoo
• Attend a concert, play or live program in the park
• Hang a bird feeder, and learn about your feathered visitors from a bird identification book or pamphlet
• Take your boy fishing (every Cub Scout-age kid I know is dying to go)
• Learn more about the historic homes in your community and visit some
• Read favorite tall tales
• Visit a nature center, aviary, wildlife refuge or game preserve
• Plant a tree in your yard or in a public place with permission
• Fill out a family pedigree chart for each child, and share funny or inspirational stories about those relatives prior to family reunions
• Go on a day trip, and allow your Bear Scout to do a significant amount of the planning and preparation
• Go camping overnight or just picnic for dinner
• Attend an outdoor event like a hot-air balloon race, bird count or fish derby
• Discuss family finances, create a back-to-school budget together and play a board game involving play money
• Play a game in the yard like backyard golf, badminton, croquet, sidewalk shuffleboard, kickball, softball, tetherball, horseshoes or volleyball
• Write thank-you notes, invitations, letters to relatives or family to-do lists
• Build a model of a rocket, boat, car or plane from a kit
• Make a nature craft using leaves, shells or rocks
• Try snorkeling together
• Draw or paint together outside and experiment in new mediums of paint, chalk, charcoal or collage using twigs and leaves
• Make puppets and put on a show for your family on the deck
• Ride public transportation somewhere new
• Create a secret code and send messages to each other
• Together assess your family’s energy usage and implement ideas to conserve
• Have a laundry night and teach your kids how to sort clothes, treat grass stains, use the washing machine, iron, match socks and sew on buttons
• Compile a first aid kit for your family or for the car, and talk about emergency situations that could occur in your family
• Wash the car together and show your older kids how to check the oil or change a tire. Show younger kids how to pump their bike tires and fix a chain.
• Organize a storage area for hand tools and those used for lawn and garden. Teach your kids how to use tools, care for them and put them away
• Try fun experiments learning the laws of physics, hydraulics, inertia or atmospheric pressure. Or have fun experimenting with crystals, gravity, optical illusions or creating fog
• Start a rock collection and learn about minerals at a trade show or on a field trip
• Set up an aquarium or terrarium or collect bugs for a temporary insect zoo
• Hike quietly to a spot where you can observe wildlife
Summertime family home evenings open the door to myriad outdoor activities and fun family bonding. Plus, if you happen to pass off Cub Scout requirements in the process, your den leader will thank you profusely.
Stacie Lloyd Duce is a columnist and magazine editor featured regularly in several Montana newspapers and magazines.