Pictured above is Cheryl’s son, Evan. This photo makes you want to buy a ticket to a ball game, kick back and celebrate summer.

When I was a kid, there was no more euphoric month than June. My siblings, friends, classmates and I were looking at what seemed like an endless summer stretching out before us. There was no fear of being bored, no nothing-to-do doldrums. We played ball in the field, built treehouses, ate our meals outside, ran lemonade stands on the side of a country road and slept in back yard tents.

When my kids were growing up, it seemed there had to be much more planning by parents, in order for them to enjoy summer in the same way and limits on TV and video games, in order to encourage them to be more active.

From what I hear, the problem has gotten much worse. At a school board meeting recently, I overheard parents who were complaining that their kids would have nothing to do but sit in front of TV or stream movies for the entire summer. They were actually wishing it was September, instead of June. Wishing away summer--I couldn’t believe my ears.

Organized sports offer an excellent way to combine physical activity with camaraderie. Check out the availability of athletic activities through your school or community. Parents are also advised to look for summer camps and free programs offered through parks and libraries, and be sure to visit the website of your local YMCA.

A few years ago, I taught an all-day, six-week summer drama workshop for pre-teens. There were to be no more than 8 students and I had 15 and a waiting list of about 30. I separated them into groups and gave them assignments, so I could work one-on-one with each student on things like voice projection, blocking and auditioning. I wanted to be sure their parents got enough bang for their bucks. What I learned was that they were not interested in acting-they just wanted something to do all summer.

Even with my fertile imagination, I had to work to keep them occupied. I learned that simple things that allow them to use their fertile imaginations work best-an improv where they each choose a character and enter a scene, such as a party; or a scene in which each of them can use only one line.
For example, a child would have to do a mock bank robbery saying only, “This fruit is rotten.” The teller would have to show all the emotion of being robbed, but she could only say, “I believe I have misplaced my umbrella.” They loved it, and they learned about acting, saying lines exactly as they are written.

One day, I rolled out a large white paper and opened boxes of crayons, colored pencils and markers. They went wild creating art. One student did a version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night that could have been in a museum. No electronic gadgets were permitted in class. Parents were asked to keep them at home. Without the temptation, kids responded to simple activities, even ran with ideas (one group set up a talk show and each played a celebrity, and another group presented a mock soap opera-they were hilarious).

My suggestion for parents who have problems with bored kids-and it seems to be an epidemic-is: limit access to TV, video games, phones, etc. and allow them to plug in to their own imaginations for a while. Suggest games like charades or spelling-bee baseball, the kids advance around the bases after spelling the word correctly. Break out the art supplies, and be sure to give them large, blank canvases. Sidewalk chalk is perfect for a creative afternoon-just be sure it’s your own sidewalk. For more ideas, so to http://www.care.com/child-care-101-fun-things-to-do-with-kids-this-summer.
At first, you will hear all the kid mantras, “This sucks, this is stupid, boooooring, Why do you hate me?” It might take a while to wean them from the status quo, but it’s worth a try, and certainly better than wishing for September, which will com e soon enough. : “Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.”—George R.R. Martin.

This is not to say kids should not take advantage of technology, or mellow out with some tunes, or that parents should not utilize the newest electronic learning tools. Numerous studies have been done on technology and children, and conclusions vary widely, but a consensus is that an overdose of technology makes for boredom and robs children of time for creative thought, verbal communication and learning to calm restless minds.
Guided imagery is a great way for kids to combine a little technology with a lot of imagination, while developing valuable emotional skills. Betty Mehling’s Magic Island contains delightful imagery that helps kids, between the ages of 5 and 12, plug into their own resourcefulness to relieve stress and enhance feelings of control and well-being. It’s so popular, we have included it in our Travel Pack for Kids.

Summer is also a great time to introduce kids to new ideas, like mindfulness meditation. For information on mindfulness, which can help kids develop focus and confidence, go to http://mindfulkids.wordpress.com and take a look at Thich Nhat Hanh’s Pebble Meditation.

Guided imagery fits nicely into this niche. Bodhipaksa’s Mindfulness Meditation for Teens is a popular choice and we include it in our Teen Travel Pack.
Be sure to go to our Online Store and check out our audio programs for sports performance, self-confidence and learning skills, to help prepare kids for the inevitable—the end of summer and beginning of another school year.
In the meantime, we at Health Journeys wish you a long, glorious summer.