By Dianne Smith
Summer is a wonderful time to build memories for our children that they will carry into adulthood. Ask people about summer, and most have memories of connections with friends and family and a slower, less stressful, pace of life. It is the time spent together and connections with people that stay with us for years, long past the items that were purchased or the money spent. It is these activities and wonderful experiences that can be found all around us in North Idaho.
One of my favorite childhood experiences was the summer reading program at the local library. I loved the weekly trip to the library to check out the books I hoped would get me to the next week. I loved earning the stickers for each book read so I could win one of the top prizes. The local library in Sandpoint offers some of the same summer traditions I enjoyed as a child and then some of the more modern ones like 3D printing.
The WaterLife Discovery Center off of Lakeshore Drive has a self-guided tour with a fish hatchery, nature trails, bridges, wildlife watching areas, interpretive signs, and underwater viewing along a stream and a pond. The 3.5-acre property provides interpretive exhibits and a 6.5-acre forested wetland with trails and interpretive signs. This area is home to white-tailed deer, moose, muskrats, mink, and river otters with birds everywhere. Bald eagles, osprey and waterfowl love the river side while woodpeckers and songbirds sing in the wetland forest.
Simple things like watching the sun rise or set, going for walk, riding bikes all provide children with time and connections. Put away the cell phone for this period of time and enjoy the moment with them building memories. You will never get this moment back and as a very wise middle school student recently reminded me “there are no do-overs.” Enjoy every moment you can building memories that they can take with them into adulthood and be able to look back and remember with fondness the experience.
Activities that are unplanned and spur of the moment create wonderful memories. A hike around Round Lake with a stop to look at the turtles basking in the sun or a trip to City Beach for a BBQ and swinging on the swings or flying a kite. Help your children create a summer scrapbook or go on a scavenger hunt out in the community looking for animals and plants crossing them off on your list as you discover them.
Involve your children in the decision making. Maybe each week a different child works with the adults to plan that week’s activity. Keep it a surprise until the chosen day arrives. Anticipation is half of the excitement. Something as simple as ice cream cones after dinner to eat outside and watch the moon come up over the lake. Attend free Sunday morning yoga at City Beach as a family then go out for breakfast together.
It really won’t matter what you do because it is the connection and spending time together that builds the memories. Ask your children what are their best memories so far and I bet you would be surprised at what they choose. Make a summer memory book together so you can look back at it throughout the year, especially when it seems like summer will never get here.
“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Dr. Suess
Dianne Smith, LMFT is a licensed counselor who works with both children and adults. She has offices in Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint and can be reached at 951-440-0982.
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