Five summer activities for kids and their communities too!

By Shannon Elliot, CARE Canada's Director, Brand and Marketing

While a fall return to school gently looms in the distance and now that the kids have likely hit the park and the pool a few times, there is still time to add some meaningful activities this summer. I know, because my kids have told me so!

My 11-year-old is becoming more and more conscious of giving back to her community and has reminded me that summer isn't time to slack off in terms of good deeds.

In that vein, here are a few ideas for things to do with your kids this summer that give back.

1. Run a lemonade stand for charity
My daughter adores making lemonade. She prefers to make it from scratch, which is great for the buyers, less so for my kitchen. But her favourite part of the endeavour is giving the proceeds to charity. I never get tired of seeing my daughter and her friends engage neighbours who are more than happy to drink bitter lemonade for a premium - and a good cause!

2. Hit the library and learn
Caught one too many a sunburn? Tired of pool parties? Indulge in some quiet time with a good book. The local public library is cool, quiet and full of knowledge. You and your little ones can duck into the library for some down time and some learning. Pick an issue that your children can relate to and explore how they can have an impact. No idea where to start? Greta Thunberg, the sixteen-year-old Swedish activist is about to literally make waves, as she embarks on a racing boat to New York - instead of a plane - in order to fight climate change. Ask about her new book No one is too small to make a difference, or read up about climate change and how we can all help our planet get healthier.

3. Do the summer clean up - and give!
My daughter tends to keep more things than she should - clothes, books, mementos, unrecognizable objects. But when her friend's mother asked about extra items for a refugee family who were moving into the neighbourhood, not only did she scour the house for unneeded items to give a family in need, but she offered to help move their things into their new apartment. Our house got tidy and our daughter experienced firsthand how her efforts can have an impact on others.

4. Show the local park some love
Despite the fact that I can't see the floor in their bedrooms for all of their mess, my kids absolutely can't leave any refuse in a green space. (I suppose it's a work in progress.) I am grateful that they can't step over a can, bag or wrapper without picking it up and delivering it to the closest garbage or recycling bin. As our parks see more use in the summer, it's a great time for you and your little ones to head out with some gloves and bins and clean up for an hour. Celebrate your good deed by bringing a picnic for after - or finding a nearby ice cream truck!

5. Say hello to a new friend
Summer time is often the time that we see new families move into the neighbourhood in anticipation of the next school year. While my kids are a bit shy to start chatting with people they don't know, when we work on a little welcome package (these have included 'insider tips' about the neighbourhood, little gifts and some baking) they are much happier to walk up to the yard and introduce themselves. It's easy to mind our own business - but it's much more fun to get to know new people and to make them feel welcome.

Make hay (and happiness) while the sun shines with any one of these meaningful activities - or come up with your own! The world will be a better place for it.