How to get your summer vacation goals ready

Most of us, I think, are mere days away from summer vacation. That means it is time to figure out some plans. You may have noticed that I’m a big fan of goal lists and consciously planning fun. I think it helps keep time from slipping away and ensures that we don’t just think about getting outside, but we actually do it. Besides, getting your kids excited about a season of adventure is half the battle and there are few seasons as clear-cut as the start of summer.

hiking feet

The best way to set some goals is to sit down with your kids and talk it over. Have everyone pick something they want to do this summer, then write it out, post it on the fridge or somewhere else visible. Making sure everyone can see it and nudge you about it will keep you honest and make it happen.

Here are some of the goals I have for our summer, with some ideas of how you can make your own plans using my rouch framework:

We’re going to go somewhere new

My kids are obsessed with our State Parks passbook. They unapologetically flip through it anytime it’s within arms reach, so much so that I actually had to hide it from them so it would last long enough to use. A few weeks ago my son was once again going through it and waxing on and on about the various selling points of each park when he asked if we could go to Roque Bluffs. Easy. Yes. Done.

Where haven’t you been in the state? Pull out a map and let them choose a destination. Call up some friends and ask where their favorite spot is. Or get out that trusty Passport book and see what grabs your attention. Just don’t take ours; my kids would never recover.

We’re going to go somewhere old

Revisiting an old favorite is the perfect way to build a sense of tradition and continuity. We always like to go camping at Cobscook State Park at least once a summer and that will probably be our thing again this year. There’s a certain comfort to revisiting familiar views (like what our kids call “the firefly meadow”) and experiences (like clamming for our dinner).

You could try returning to a favorite campground, beach, or hiking trail. Anything works, as long as it’s something you all enjoy and it’s repeatable, each and every year. Make it your special summer place. Your kids will talk about it for the rest of their lives–and maybe bring their kids back.

We’re going to schedule in our lazy time

My very favorite thing to do in the summer is spend an entire afternoon by a lake somewhere. I let the kids splash, dig and explore while I read or paddle around lazily. I pack things we can graze on all afternoon long, like watermelon and pretzels. These days make us feel simultaneously accomplished and relaxed, plus I don’t have to worry about baths that night. But I’ve learned the hard way that leaving those lazy days to chance often means they don’t happen–one year you didn’t go swimming until August, because I wasn’t paying attention.

Pick one or two priority activities–canoeing? Fishing?–and promise yourself to seize the moment whenever you can. Staying really focused on your favorites will get you in the habit of doing them.

child swimming

We’re going to be ambitious

Last year, my daughter set a goal of hiking a very difficult trail and we used that as a focal point all summer. I’m not sure what we’ll do this year (rock climbing? A big kayaking trip?) but I’d love to set a big push goal again. Working toward something that’s just a little hard and seeing the results are great life lessons, and it’s even better when the whole process is fun.

What’s a stretch goal for your kid? What’s something they are interested in but maybe just a little, bitty bit afraid of? How can you help them get there?

Summer vacation, after all, is all about possibilities.


Cherie Galyean

About Cherie Galyean

In a perfect world, Cherie Galyean would spend hours every day chasing her kids up hiking trails, pretending to garden, and baking things. Instead, she works full-time in the non-profit sector and fits those other things in-between loads of laundry in her free time. A Maine native with multiple hometowns, she currently lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, seven-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and the best shelter mutt in the world.