Summer is Finally Here

global familySummer in the U.S. officially kicks off with Memorial Day weekend. This year was a little different, with strong bi-partisan support for veterans in the wake of scandals at V.A. hospitals across the country. Over the long weekend, your family may have touched on more serious themes than just how to best barbeque hamburgers and hotdogs – rather, how to protect the vulnerable compatriots we honor. As a country, we need to do more than merely pay tribute to veterans’ sacrifice, respect their bravery and offer our sincere gratitude. It’s our duty to assist these heroes in meeting their needs – be they medical, psychological, or vocational.

As you reflect on these models of responsibility, you may find inspiration for a similar sense of meaning and dedication in caring for your family. And in that role, summer provides a special opportunity for connecting with them in a unique environment. If you’re in the process of planning a vacation with your family, here are some suggestions to help you bond over the summer with quality time together.

Plan with your particular family in mind. Be realistic about what they’ll enjoy – relaxing at the beach or visiting stimulating tourist spots. Keep it simple with just your immediate family or include other relatives and friends. Camp out and enjoy nature or book a room in a hotel. Stay close to home or venture out beyond your community. Let your summer vacation maximize the unique bonds in your family.

Visit a national park. They have been called “America’s best idea” and serve as inspiring and educational family playgrounds across the country. You’ll be motivated by a visit to learn more about their unique landscapes, native wildlife and indigenous flowers and trees. Participate in new physical challenges while you’re soaking up the serenity of nature.

Rejuvenate by stretching your boundaries. Learn about a culture that is different from your own, either by foreign travel or by exploring different ethnic groups in your own community. Engagement with other people can expand your universe even as it tightens the connections between you.

Design a staycation with fresh experiences in your local setting. Keep your expenses down while developing a new interest through classes at the community center. Check out that entertaining section of the library you didn’t have time for during the rest of the year. Return to the museum exhibit on the other side of town for a more in depth visit. Take advantage of the community resources your tax dollars fund.

Take the time to really listen to the voices nearest to you. Whether you can plan a long holiday or only fit in a few days, use that time to plug into some family togetherness this summer. You’ll feel refreshed, recharged and reconnected in the months ahead.

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