Marking Activites Off Our Summer Bucket List 2015

We've officially got about one more month of summer left and so far we've had our fair share of, "I'm bored!" and too much TV and video games.  We've also had our lazy days of summer where it's just too hot to go out or days when life's boring tasks of cleaning, running errands, and doing laundry take over.  But, we've still managed to have some fun times.  This is why it's so important for our family to have this Summer Bucket List done early in the summer so we can not only have fun activities and events to look forward to, but to also make the time to make it happen.  We don't want to get so caught up in our daily routine and life's demands that we forget to have fun!

Our summer has also included days at the pool at my parent's place and our friend's place, a fun day boating on Lake Mead, a weekend camping in Utah, jumping at SkyZone, making ice cream, evening bike rides, and watching some family movies!  

We still have a few more things to mark off our Summer Bucket List but so far we're having a great summer making memories and going on adventures!  How's your summer going?  


5 Tips for a Fun & Successful Family Camping Trip

Our first camping trip as a family was a great success!  Jason and I had been on few camping trips in Florida before we had the kiddos, but it'd been 12 years since then.  Plus, camping with kids is way different.  The kids had been asking to go camping since last summer, so we decided to make it part of our summer bucket list this year.  Our trip was 2 nights and I think this was just enough for us.  It was long enough to make the effort worthwhile, but not too long to get boring or overwhelming.  We went out to Navajo Lake, UT, which is about a 3 hr drive from Las Vegas.  This was a good distance for us.  Far enough that it felt like a getaway and the scenery was completely different, but close enough that we didn't have to drive for too long.  

Of course, I don't by any means think we're camping experts or suggest we had a flawless trip, but I think we did pretty good and I'd love to share some of the ups and downs (but mostly the ups!) of our trip and share 5 tips that helped make our first camping trip fun!

1.  Make a list!  There are tons of websites you can find online or on pinterest with extensive checklists on what to pack for your camping trip.  REI had a great one we used, here.  These lists are pretty long and detailed, so you may or may not need all of these items for your trip, but it's a good idea to print one out and use as a starting point.  Camping requires lots of stuff. I still can't get over the amount of things you have to take!  

2.  Prepare!  Go on some day trips and/or family hikes if you aren't used to the great outdoors.  Our family loves to go on hikes & picnics together, so overnight camping was the natural next step for us. If you're new to the outdoors, start off slow with a picnic at a park and walks through natural settings and work your way up to longer hikes.  

3.  Go with friends!  Even before Jason and I had kids, we always went camping with a group of friends.  The more the merrier.  Going with another family was perfect for us.  The kids had friends to play with, so they weren't always looking for us to entertain them.  Don't get me wrong, we did get some, "I'm bored!" What can we do now?" but I know it would have been tons more had it just been the 4 of us.    

4.  Plan some activities!  Yes, I'm a planner and the idea of just going on a trip without any set plans is not within my comfort zone.  This trip was pretty spontaneous for us and we didn't have huge plans for when we got there, but the few things we did have planned were just enough.  It doesn't have to be anything huge and you definitely do not need to plan every minute, but having a few activities for the kids was super helpful.  Jason took some supplies for a little battery-electicity science experiment for the kids, we had them do a scavenger hunt, and the highlight of the day was going fishing!  We have an awesome book titled Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids' Guide and it's packed with stuff for kids to do on camping trips. (Tip: this book is also great for day trips and hikes) 

5.  Get the kids involved!  Camping is a lot of work.  There's the setting up camp, putting up your tents, making a fire, cooking, cleaning, etc.  Just unloading and loading up the cars is a lot of work.  Kids love helping out and feeling useful, so get them involved in "camp life".  We gave our kids small tasks they could handle depending on their age and with some supervision and direction, they were all able to help out.  

No trip with kiddos is guaranteed to be stress-free and some trips will be better than others.  We had our share of issues from thunderstorms, leaking tents, and a few kid meltdowns!  But, nothing we couldn't handle with a little flexibility and a good attitude!  

I'll admit before this trip, I was pretty nervous about taking the kids camping.  But, with a little preparation, I think we'll be ready to go again soon.  There's something special about being outdoors without all the comforts of modern daily living that helps ground you.  I think it's important to let kids "rough it" for a few days, get dirty, and disconnect for a bit.  I'm looking forward to our next camping trip, for sure.  Any expert campers out there have any additional tips for our next trip?  I'd love to hear them!  




Summer Bucket List 2015

Since the summer of 2010 we've been putting together a family summer bucket list.  We've had a blast putting these lists together each year and coming up with fun activities to keep the kiddos entertained and happy during our hot Vegas summers.  A few things have become summer traditions such as going to Southern California in August, picnics up at Mount Charleston, and movie nights.  But, it's always fun to add a few new things to our lists each year.  In 2012 we started to get creative with displaying our list because it's important to see it and plan around it.  Otherwise, we tend to get busy with our regular routine and forget about all the fun plans we had for summer.  

We usually put our summer bucket list together around Memorial Day, but this year has been wonky with Jason's broken ankle and year round school for both kids! So, we waited until our kids went on their summer track brake to really focus on the fun summer activities for this year.  They'll be on summer track break for 3 weeks. Then they'll be back to finish off the school year for about a month, before having another 2 week break before the new school year begins again.  It can get confusing, but that's where a little preparation and being intentional about making the best of summer comes in handy!  We're determined to make the most of our time together as a family, be it summer or any other time of the year.  This year, I purchased this cute chalk banner at Target for displaying our list.  I got the kids to each write a few of our activities and then we hung it right over the kitchen window.  We'll definitely be seeing it constantly!  

Emeric Family Summer Bucket List 2015

  • End of Summer SoCal Beach Trip
  • Family Bike Ride (I plan to just run alongside them, since I don't know how to ride a bike.  They think they're going to teach me to ride.  We'll see what happens!)
  • Mystery Adventure
  • Bonfire 
  • Art Day
  • Sky Zone
  • Picnic at Mount Charleston
  • Make Ice Cream
  • Camping
  • Family Movie Night
  • Swimming 

Feel free to check out our 2012, 2013, and 2014 lists for more ideas for your own summer bucket list!  It's not too late to get started on having a super fun summer!  What kinds of fun activities, trips, or projects do you have planned for your family this summer?