I know this isn’t my typical post about weddings or photography related things, but every now and then on here I will post something personal to share my thoughts and ideas.
COVID has obviously thrown our summer plans for a loop! I am one to have us scheduled to do tons of things in the summer. I had our summer calendar last year and we literally had every single day filled with something to do, so this summer is obviously going to be very different!
I am in a handful of Mama Facebook groups and this is the number one topic of conversation right now. WHAT TO DO WITH THE KIDS?! Summer camps are cancelled, vacations cancelled, no visiting with friends, so what in the world do I do with them?
My first piece of advice is to give yourself grace and understand that this is a weird season, so if your kids have more screen time or don’t do all that you’d like this summer, it’s going to be okay. To keep myself from going nuts this summer, we are doing different at home camps and day activities. As we do each activity, I’ll blog them and then come back and link them to this blog post as a resource for people to refer to. One idea is to do these activities at the same time as other friends and FaceTime or Zoom with them to share the fun!
I hope you find these ideas helpful and enjoy looking at our summer plans and some of what we have already done while being at home for the last two months!
1) At Home Baking Camp
Levi went to a baking camp a couple of summers ago and while he was the only boy there (and in a pink apron), he had a blast! He had asked to go back again this summer as he loves baking and cooking with me. Even before COVID I had considered doing an at-home version of this baking camp in order to save some money (and driving 25 minutes one way). Now that we’re officially not doing camps this summer, I will be doing a baking camp with him. Each day we will do a different baking item.
Some ideas include:
-fried yeast donuts or cake baked donuts
-cupcakes or cakes
Baking and enjoying cannolis in March
2) Christmas in July Week
During this week, you can do all of the fun activities you would do around Christmas, just in July! Because, why not?! We’ve all heard of Christmas in July, so why not take it to the next level and do a week of it this summer while stuck at home? Make your favorite Christmas foods and desserts, watch your favorite Christmas movies, go all out and decorate part of your house with Christmas decorations, and make Christmas crafts. This Pinterest link has some great ideas as well as this Southern Living article, many of which are food related ideas.
3) Visit Local Outdoor Places
If you aren’t in the Atlanta area like I am and you’re reading this post, try and research some places around you that are outdoors, open, and provide safe social distancing during the summer!
–Wild Animal Safari– located in Pine Mountain, GA near Callaway Gardens and FDR State Park, this is a super fun way to get the kids out while social distancing! You get to feed animals right from your car!
–Pettit Creek Farms– similar to Wild Animal Safari, Pettit Creek Farm in Cartersville is another fun feed the animal from your car option.
–Southern Belle Farm– we went here in the spring to pick strawberries and we had the best time, plus got some amazing fresh strawberries as well as strawberry shortcake from their market! They have other options in the summer with their blackberries, peaches, and more! We plan on going back this summer!
Picking strawberries at Southern Belle Farm in May!
–Gibbs Gardens– this beautiful garden is gorgeous in the spring and a great spot for a nice nature walk. Get there early to social distance as they do tend to fill up by noon or so! Visit nearby Ball Ground for yummy lunch at the Burger Bus!
–Callaway Gardens– a great location for hiking, biking, lake/beach, and other fun outdoor activities!
–The Rock Garden– located in Calhoun, this is a fun location with tons of really cool rock statues!
4) State Park Road Trip (or Daily Visits)
Levi and I will be spending a week this summer on a road trip camping to different Georgia State Parks we haven’t been to yet. One of our favorite things to do during the summer is camping. If the idea of packing up and going somewhere in the woods isn’t appealing and you have camping gear already, you could always camp in your back yard! Levi and I did this over Spring Break and had a blast cooking in the backyard and sleeping in the tent.
All Georgia State Parks have been open during the COVID crisis and camping is a great way to social distance from others as the camp sites are definitely more than 6 ft apart! Check out each state park option to see what activities they have open during this time, but most parks have great hiking and biking trails. Kayaks are often available for rental, but they might not be during this time, so check ahead.
Some personal favorites I’ve been to are: Redtop Mountain, Tallulah Gorge, F.D. Roosevelt, Cloudland Canyon, Sloppy Floyd, Panola Mountain, High Falls, and Fort Yargo. We camp annually at Redtop Mountain and love it as many of the camping spots are on Lake Allatoona.
Day trip to Tallulah Gorge in March
5) Day Trips to Hiking Locations
Many county and local hiking locations have been closed since the beginning of the shut down, but some of these locations are reopening with Phase I and Phase II. Check on their websites when possible to check if they are open before venturing out. Atlanta Trails is a great website that you can hop on to check out these locations.
-Raven Cliff Falls
-Long Creek Falls
-Anna Ruby Falls
-Duke Creek Falls
Day trip to Anna Ruby Falls in March
6) At Home Water Camp
This idea takes a little preparation and items at your home. We already have a slip n slide, kiddie pool, sprinklers, water balloons, and giant inflatable slide. Each day, we will focus on a different water activity to play and do a lesson each day related to some water learning. If you want to incorporate some learning into the activities, here’s a kindergarten aged lesson you could use. The Water Project also has a whole website dedicated to lessons for all ages about water. There are some great lesson on their site! This YouTube video also has some fun water experiments.
7) Visiting Different Countries
I created some lessons when the stay at home orders came into place that allowed us to “visit” different countries around the world. We did these almost daily for two weeks to fill up our time and then slowed them down some and did them once a week once Levi’s school figured out the online distance learning. He absolutely loved these lessons and still does. We plan on doing them into the summer. Feel free to email me for these lessons! I’d love to share them!
Visiting Germany in April
8) At Home Art Camp
We love crafting here! Just because I have a boy doesn’t mean we don’t love doing arts and crafts. Last summer Levi was given the choice to do an outdoor sports camp or art camp and he wanted to do art camp. Since we can’t do one this summer, we will do one at home! Good Housekeeping has a great post on some fun crafts to do at home! Happiness Homemade also has a great post with a lot of fun ideas for crafting!
We made a piñata for Cinco de Mayo and had a blast! It was definitely a two day process, but we had a blast putting it together! Check out this blog post with a couple different ideas for piñata making!
9) Star Wars Week (or any trilogy)
We recently introduced Levi to the Star Wars movies and he loved them! He’s already asking when we can watch them again. We will do a Star Wars themed week at some point this summer. We will watch movies and do crafts related to the movie. You don’t have to pick Star Wars, but can pick a movie series or even a TV show and do a themed week with that movie or show! We did some Star Wars crafts for May the 4th (Be With You) and plan on adding to our collection of characters for the movies. This blog post has a lot of fun crafts Star Wars related.
Star Wars crafts on May the 4th (Be With You)
10) Local Outdoor Water Activity
Depending on your comfort level, there are a handful of places open this summer to go tubing or rent kayaks. Check with their procedures on how they clean their equipment before and after customers, as well as travel on their busses to and from locations; but if you feel comfortable, these would be fun places to visit and enjoy the day outside social distancing on the river!
–Ellijay Tubing– I haven’t been here before, but they look like a fun group to visit with!
–Cool River Tubing– I have been here a couple of times in Helen and loved it! They are super affordable and super fun! The trip does through Helen on the North portion of the Chattahoochee River. It’s always a fun day trip!
–Nantahala Outdoor Center– I can’t speak personally for this company yet, but they have two locations in the Atlanta area for kayaking and tubing along the Chattahoochee River. They’re a part of the larger Nantahala organization that whitewater rafts up in North Georgia, so you can check that out as well!
11) Virtual Camp
There are some camps that are offering virtual versions of their camps. While obviously not the same, still a fun option and something to fill our time! Originally Levi was going to be doing VBS at our church and now they are offering a virtual version of that, so we will do a week of virtual VBS at home. We also had planned on sending him to WinShape Day Camps for the first time (as this was his first year old enough), but they cancelled that, so they just announced that they are doing a virtual version of their camp. Research and check with your camps you had planned on sending your kids to and see what kind of options they have for you!
12) At Home Movies
Each summer, we go to the different theaters around the area that have older movies for super cheap. They usually do them weekly for like $1 or $2 on Tuesday/Wednesday mornings. Well, do it at home now! Schedule every Tuesday morning at 10am to watch a movie and eat popcorn! If you have a way to make the room dark and like a theater, do that! Let the kids “go shopping at the movie theater” to pick out their snacks. Make it a fun experience!
GOOD LUCK! We’re all in this together! I hope you found some of these ideas helpful for you to look through and will use some! Feel free to tag Mandi Mitchell Photography on Facebook or @mandimitchellphoto on Instagram if you do any of these activities! I’d love to see them!