Three Surefire Ways to Keep Your Kids Engaged and Energized During the Summer

Summer offers plenty of opportunity for families to plug into fun and rewarding activities.

Sally Thayer, the Nutrition Director for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell, has one goal in the summer: to keep brains fueled.

A classically-trained chef with of loads of real-world restaurant experience, Sally found her life’s calling serving the children of Lowell the best way she knows how: opening their eyes to a whole new world of food. During the school year, Sally and her crew serve meals to 230 kids a day. During the summer camp season, that number jumps to well over 400 .

“When you don’t eat right, especially in the summer, it’s tougher to get everything you’ve learned to stay,” Sally says. “Nutritious food fuels these kids, fuels their brains. They have energy to keep going and going.”

So the next question: what to do with these fully-fueled brains? Here are three suggestions to turn the dog days of July and August into a summer of opportunity.

Plant a Bee-Friendly Garden

summer-opportunity-plant-gardenHoneybees are critical to the health of the ecosystem. Just ask Juaddy Melo, who started a youth venture last year to build awareness of the declining bee population. Part of his project was to plant community gardens in Dorchester, MA to attract bees to bolster the local plant-life. Your family can get in on the action as well by planting your own bee-friendly garden.

Get Your Hands Dirty on Behalf of Your Town and City

“I was accepted and becoming part of something.” Those are the words of Olf Mouyaka, who moved from the Congo to Lowell, MA and found himself involved with the Spindle City Corps, a summer opportunity program that dispatches teams of young people throughout the city to beautify their community. See what you and your kids can do for your town–and come away with that same feeling of being part of something larger.

Start a Small Business

Be it a lemonade stand, a yard sale, or something more ambitious (perhaps turning recyclable materials into a full-scale boutique!), summer provides ample time and opportunity to introduce your kids to the world of small business! Yes, this could be a bit daunting, but in the words of United Way friend and supporter, George Foreman III (owner of his own business, The Club by George Foreman III in Boston) “Don’t give up, no matter what.” Find some more of his pro-tips here, from when he addressed the teams from United Way’s Youth Venture initiative, a social entrepreneurship program for groups of young people across the region.

Finally, to keep the energy level up for these activities, consider following some of Sally’s culinary recommendations, big hits at summer camp and guaranteed to generate brainpower for kids on the go: turkey sausage, toast with honey (not jelly), oranges, grapes, plums, Caesar, Cobb and Chef salads and Coleslaw made with low-fat ranch dressing instead of vinegar.