A Social (Distanced) Summer

It’s been a year—to say the least. No one remains unscathed. We could not have foreseen the pandemic and the effects that will ripple through our world for a long time yet. Untold lives have been altered dramatically.

Eyes looked to summer as the hopeful pivot point—the time when maybe, just maybe, life would become ‘normal’ again. But, we are not quite there. And, while small in the larger scheme of everything else, canceling those desperately looked-forward to summer plans has hit harder than expected.

There are still ways to enjoy your summer, though. These tips do not in any way mean to belittle or take away from the horrifying changes that have hit our world, but in the midst of all this stress and sadness and despair and turmoil, a little joy, the smiles of our loved ones and some laughs are the lights to which we can cling. It’s ok to find happiness in dark times—more than ok, actually—it’s necessary.

So, let’s keep our eyes pointed forward; try not to lament the canceled flights to Europe or beach vacation or summer camps. The summer of 2020 can still be amazing—maybe even the most amazing, yet!

Happy Campers

If sending the kids to summer camp has been an annual tradition, not to fret—you still have options. Virtual camps are available such as the PBS Kids Camp or Camp Supernow or the Wonder Explorers Club. Kids want to learn about tech? Cooking? World travel? Fly-tying? There’s a camp for anyone! And if they’re actually getting burned out by being on computers, make your own camp. Read a play together and act it out. Try some of those old-school vinegar and baking soda science experiments. Learn a new language as a family (great to use when out in public). Chat with your family and discover what topics everyone would like to explore and then make it happen. Summer camp minus the mosquitos and hickies—even better! And if you don’t have kids, look for some online classes for yourself. It’s always fun to learn.

Make a Night of It

Create a calendar of events for the summer nights—Friday backyard movie nights; Wednesday walks; Saturday game nights; Monday dance parties (especially good to shake away those Monday blues); Sunday bake-offs (great for meal prep for the week). Make a point to schedule in date nights if you have kids, or even a Kids are Parents Night—kids cook and clean up after dinner and put the parents to bed and watch a movie. Show them how to close and lock up the house and clean up after themselves. Celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries. Hang the calendar where everyone can see it and have something to look forward to.

Explore your Town

Several cities are opening the zoos, museums, safari parks and more with physical distancing in effect. There are still opportunities to get out and learn more about what your city offers—and you’ll have more space to do it! Or, keep it close to home and map out your neighborhood—maybe even create a scavenger hunt around the area, tying in any cool points of interest. There are virtual scavenger hunts available as well. Create your own parade for the neighbors. Bake cookies for the elderly couple next door. Physical distancing doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from society. This can be a great opportunity to bring the neighborhood closer.

Get out

Hiking, camping, fishing, biking, gardening, road tripping…there’s still a lot out there to do that maintains safe distances. Avoid the hermit lifestyle and get some vitamin D. A little physical activity will help with depression. Or, go bigger and drive across the country. Look for those oddball attractions (largest ball of string, Carhenge or the world’s largest brick) or take this time to finally see the Grand Canyon or that National Park you’ve been dying to see (as a Montana girl, I highly recommend both Yellowstone and Glacier). Get your head out of the ostrich hole and get outside.

While plans may have changed, new opportunities are there for the taking. This could be the time to start some much-loved traditions. Avoid the desire to hide and hole up. Instead, take some time to enjoy yourself and make the summer of 2020 the best summer yet.