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Don’t miss another summer

By Nathan Rice

Things changed dramatically and quickly in 2020, and children were thrown into this change with the rest of us. We are entering year two of COVID, and children will soon be entering their second spring and summer in this new world. Last year caused many of us, especially children, to miss some of the joys of summer. Children only receive 18 summers of childhood, and each one is precious. We must not allow them to miss another great summer.

It is not too early to begin planning for the summer. Speak with your children and ask what they would like to do. You may not be able to fulfill all of their wishes, but hearing their dreams gives you an idea of what they would like to do.

We should think of ways to allow children to gather with others once again. While COVID is still a legitimate concern, we should think about the effects long periods of isolation have on children. Perhaps there is a small group of parents and kids with whom you can allow your children to interact. A summer group can limit exposure to larger groups while still allowing children much needed time with friends. It can also help fill some of the void left by canceled summer camps, day camps, sports and other events.

Next, plan some ways to unplug this summer. Children have spent a majority of the past year in a virtual world, with virtual school adding to the time children already spend playing video games, cruising the Internet, and watching videos. This summer, reintroduce children to the real world.

We are blessed to live in an area that has so much to do. The ocean sits less than one hour from us, and the mountains are only a few more hours away. Numerous historical sites can be visited in a one-day trip, and there is an abundance of spots in Hampton Roads where nature can be explored.

Children may not know it, but they need a break from the screen. This summer gives an excellent opportunity to step away from virtual and into reality.

Lastly, be sure to keep your budget in mind when you plan for the summer. You may desire to give your children a great summer, but it is important to remain fiscally responsible. You don’t want a great summer to cause unneeded financial stress later in the year.

You can mix free or inexpensive activities with things that cost more. A hike on one of the Great Dismal Swamp trails costs nothing more than the gas it takes to get there, and fishing at a local pond may cost nothing more than a box of bait.

Once you have an idea of your budget, you can allow children to pick what they would like to do most, such as one trip to a local arcade one week and mini-golf the next week or skipping those two events for one trip to Busch Gardens.

No one thinks this summer will return to normal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a great summer for our kids. Don’t let COVID steal another summer from your kids.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.