THE BLOG
05/22/2014 05:57 EDT | Updated 07/22/2014 05:59 EDT

How to Get Your Kids Outside This Summer

Summer is just around the corner. Do you really want your kids to spend their summer watching T.V. or playing video games? You're both better than that. Check out these ideas to see if they appeal to you and your kids:

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Summer is just around the corner. Do you really want your kids to spend their summer watching T.V. or playing video games? You're both better than that. You can choose to let them be a Superhero instead (cape optional) and help someone in the process. Support them in volunteering this summer instead of growing roots on the couch. You can find volunteer opportunities in your community that will allow your kids to make a real difference this summer and become the high score leader in the game of life.

When I googled "Summer Opportunities for Kids" I got over 1 million hits. There are a lot of options out there; it just depends on what interests you and your children. Call your local chapter of the United Way to see what organized opportunities they offer in your area. They have supervised volunteer opportunities that will make you feel secure. If you can't find a supervised activity, and your kids are home alone anyway, develop a list of businesses where you already know the owners. That way, when you or your children call to see if the owners need help, they already know your child will be an asset.

Check out these ideas to see if they appeal to you and your kids:

1. If your kids love animals, you can call your local animal shelter or your veterinarian's office to see if they need help exercising or bathing animals. Or they can get a group of their friends together to offer pet sitting services in your neighborhood. They can make a difference in an animal's life and feel good about themselves in the process.

2. If they love elderly people, help them call local retirement homes to see if they need any help entertaining the residents. Your kids and their friends could organize a sing-along or a play. Your kids can lead practices at your house, and then you, or one of the other parents, can chaperone for the actual performance.

3. If the environment is important to your family, check out your local paper's community pages to see if anyone is organizing a road-side clean-up or a beach clean-up. Or maybe you can come up with a program to encourage your neighborhood or church to switch to re-useable grocery bags over plastic bags.

4. Trade family chores: Have your kids help out a friend's family, and then have them do the same for yours. Do you have a project you've been putting off, like cleaning up leaves, painting fences or planting flowers? Your kids can get together with their friends and their parents to get 'er done! Tell your children that this is how people in the old days would build houses; everyone would show up and build a whole house together. When we all pull together, it's amazing what we can accomplish!

5. Ask at your community center or church to see if they need decorations for an event. Your kids and their friends could arrange flowers, paint banners, or make centerpieces. If they're tech savvy, maybe they could design a flyer or help create an ad for the business's website or Facebook page.

6. Your kids could organize a neighborhood yard sale to help everyone clean out their garage; that way you can all start the new school year more organized. If they're a budding chef, maybe they could help plan a neighborhood bar-b-que or potluck to show off the dishes they've learned, with your supervision, of course, when the dish involves a stove or a grill. Maybe this could take some meals off your plate (pun fully intended)!

If none of these ideas appeal to you, get together with your kids to put on your creative hats and come up with your own. Better yet, get your kids and their friends together to brainstorm as a group. We are always better when we surround ourselves with our support system; I call that our Pride. I watched lionesses work together in Africa, and I saw that a Pride could do things that one lioness could not do alone. When you choose to aid your children in volunteering this summer, you will be increasing the size of your Pride, and you will give your kids something meaningful to say when someone asks them how they spent their summer. Do a little research and come up with some different options for discussion; then talk with your kids and develop a plan. Anyone can watch their summer pass by, only Superheroes (and their kids) will go a step further to use their time and energy to make the world a better place.

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