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Summer is a season to rejoice in. It’s a time when we share more time with family, do different activities, travel (if possible), rest, and have fun. It’s made more enjoyable if we remember what keeps body and soul healthy and we remember God.
While it’s true that last year was quite atypical, let’s use the rest of 2021 as an opportunity to show what we’ve learned since the pandemic began. May our faith not go on vacation!
There’s no better place to be in contact with God than in the midst of His creation.
This summer, take the opportunity to visit a park, lake, or beach. Take time to appreciate the beauty of God’s handiwork, with its myriad details and the peace it brings.
You can also take advantage of simple activities to talk about values or transmit messages—for example, a little uphill hiking can teach about sacrifice or teamwork.
2An afternoon of making jewelry
Children often enjoy making bracelets and necklaces. In addition to the classic materials for making them, you can buy some little medals or crosses to include. These can become a very nice back-to-school gift for your children’s classmates and teachers.
If you travel to another country or city, then you can buy medals of the local saint or Marian devotion. Instead of a bracelet or necklace, you can make a rosary with them and take advantage of the moment to pray it with your kids.
3Cooking a saint’s recipe
There are many recipes connected to saints in books and on the internet. Why not try to make an ancient recipe associated with a particular saint or religious community?
It’s the perfect opportunity to eat something delicious and, in addition, learn about the life and work of that saint or community. You can even make several dishes for a picnic day!
4A time capsule
If your kids love the idea of looking for buried treasure, why not hide some treasure of your own instead?
Children can write about what they experienced in the last few months, and place heir writing (or drawing, for younger children) in a sturdy box or tin. Add an unblessed rosary, a photo or special personal object, a book, or some other item that captures who they are and what their life is like right now.
Then they can bury it somewhere appropriate, or even just hide it inside their own house, either to open it themselves in a few years or for someone else to find it.
5Visit a new church
You don’t necessarily need to leave your city to visit a new sacred place. Often, not too far from home (within day trip distance), there’s a church, shrine, or monastery that you’ve never visited!
This is the perfect time to make a little pilgrimage, and thank God or a patron saint for health, pray for people who are going through a difficult situation, etc.
Instead of using traditional board games, as a family, you can create your own Catholic game where everyone is involved, from the creation of the content to the design of the board, cards, etc. It will be entertaining and, at the same time, educational and formative. Alternatively you can buy Catholic games from a variety of sources (see “For the Whole Family” in this article, for example).
7Visit an animal shelter
In the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, children can learn about different kinds of animals and how to help those that are endangered. They also can volunteer for a day (as long as it’s not a cause of conflict later; keep in mind there might suddenly be filial pressure to adopt a new pet). If you don’t have a shelter nearby, you can help your kids build a birdhouse, which is also a nice way to instill love for animals.
8A campfire or bonfire
Keeping in mind environmental conditions (this is not something to do in a drought or when there’s a high risk of wildfires), having a campfire or bonfire can be a fun family experience. Not only is it an opportunity to sing together or tell stories, but you can also have deep family conversations.
You can tell each other what you admire most about each other, ask each other what kind of animal you identify with and why. Between “serious” and fun questions, you can learn more about each other and strengthen your bonds as a family.
9Cleaning your closets
It’s not the most fun activity, but it’s necessary. When the seasons change, so does our wardrobe. This is a great opportunity to look through our clothes and donate everything we’re no longer going to use (and which is still in good condition) to a person in need or to a charity or thrift store.
You don’t need to buy a telescope; all you need is a clear summer night away from city lights to enjoy a starry night. Not only will it be fun to try to find the constellations, but it’s an excellent time to reflect on the greatness and immensity of God.