It’s hard to believe that we are entering the final days of summer.

There are still so many things we planned to do this summer with the kids, but we realize we still have time to make it happen.

We haven’t had the money to do all of the things we wanted to do this summer. Disneyland will have to wait another summer, alas.

Honestly, I’ve been dreading returning to that “happiest place” ever since I took a fateful trip there in college with Miss Idaho USA from a certain year. (But that’s another story.)

Finding finances to do the things we want to do is a challenge these days, but we are plucky individuals dogged in our quest to find inexpensive or free things to in the dog days of summer.

Here’s what we’re are doing to live out that summer dream this year!

Kids Bowl Free

Bowling alleys across the nation are offering free bowling to kids throughout the summer. It’s not getting them outdoors, but when the temperature is 99 degrees, finding an indoor space with air conditioning is a welcome respite from the sweltering heat.

Volunteer

There are so many opportunities to volunteer. This is a great way to do some family bonding while doing some good and teaching some important life lessons about service, responsibility, and a heightened sense of community, and the world at large.

We are planning to join a volunteer day at the zoo. Not only is it free admission, but the kids get to see behind the scenes. They’ll have a chance to see a different perspective.

Volunteering. While at a rescue mission. The Ronald McDonald House. Anywhere. It makes a difference, however trivial it may seem, and informs our sense experience.

We rescued a duckling that lost it’s way in our ditch, so we are now volunteering a day at the bird sanctuary. Now my daughter wants to volunteer that the Humane Society and the nature conservancy. She convinced us to donate plasma with her. (But that’s another story.)

Farmer’s Markets

Sure you could read your kids The Omnivore’s Dilemma every night, discussing the military industrial complex, food production and sustainability, but a trip to the farmer’s market is a great way to get them thinking about food differently. Find seasonal produce, and have the kids help planning a meal. There are so many recipe sites out there, and so many ways to build a meal using online searches, it doesn’t take as much effort as it may initially seem.

Summer Camps

There are some amazing summer camps and day camps that you can find for your kids in various price ranges. We found a perfect one in the area for our son with a learning disability. He came back inspired and we decided to throw a neighborhood fair. Which leads me to…

Throw a Neighborhood Fair

This is a great way to get to know your neighbors through the kids. We are organizing a fair with some activities the kids are developing.

We’re having a chalk drawing contest, an art exhibit, some fun games, a costume contest, and we’ll screen a movie when the sun goes down.

Go Camping

All you need is a car, a tent, some hotdogs, and a drive to get out there and see some of the world you haven’t seen.

No matter where you live in this amazing country of ours, there’s a relatively close sanctuary to call your own.

Sure, it may take longer, and more planning to get there from New York City, but not much, actually.

I’ve lived in Portland, Prague, NYC, and Idaho. Finding a place to camp away from home has never been more than a two hour drive.

There is nothing like taking your kids out of their element into nature. I have the luxury of living in Idaho now, and we took our family out for a night and morning into a pristine bend of a river leading into Little Payette Lake.