Life Used to Be Simpler

“I’m bored,” Have you heard that one yet? The summer has just started, but I already feel like I am our family’s entertainment director and taxi driver.

Life was so much simpler when we were kids, don’t you think? We made our own fun. My siblings and I enjoyed three-day weekends camping with six cousins. Tent camping was inexpensive back then. One day, when all of the parents wanted to play cards in peace, Uncle offered to pay us a penny for each cigarette butt we collected. Do you realize how many butts nine broke and bored children could find in the 1970s? That was the last time Uncle offered to pay us for our environmentally good deeds!

In his book Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Josh Foer says, “Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it…It’s important…to have as many new experiences as possible that can serve to anchor our memories.” [p. 77]

When we have a little more free time during the summer, we need to make memories proactively otherwise the screens and boredom take over. In this article, I provide a list of more than 100+ Ways to Make Fun-in-the-Sun Memories. I hope all generations of your family have a blast!

Be the one who asked your parents and grandparents to share their fun-in-the-sun stories before it’s too late (and maybe you can borrow an idea or two when you hear, “I’m bored,” this summer.)

Monotony collapses time; novelty unfolds it.
- Josh Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein

100+ Ways to Make Fun-in-the-Sun Memories

The words, “I’m bored,” are like nails on a chalkboard for me. Although I think it is advantageous for children to “feel the boredom” and make their own fun, I realize that most memories are made—not watched on a screen.

I have always tried to give my kids opportunities to make memories. Admittedly, I am sometimes at a loss for new ideas so I created this list for myself—and for you! I hope you find this useful and make some memories with all generations of your family this summer!



Sit by the campfire



Pick berries

Search for salamanders & frogs

Beach it!

Collect shells & sea glass

Boogie board

Build sandcastles

Walk the boardwalk

Whale watch

Visit a local farm or a discovery farm

Hike a local mountain

Take a walk in a state forest

Search with a metal detector

Go for a bike ride or a hike


Ice cream

Backyard BBQ or Seafood Boil


Corn on the cob

Fresh lemonade


Eat on the boardwalk (e.g, taffy, fried dough)

Local fruits and vegetables

Host a cupcake or pizza Wars party

Host a chili cook-off

Host a tea party

Host a teddy bear picnic

Hold an impromptu dance party

Decorate cookies & host a cookie swap


To skate or rollerblade

To ride a bike

To ride an ATV

Research your genealogy

Art museums

Activity museums

Living history centers (e.g.,
Sturbridge Village,
Plymouth Plantation,
Strawberry Banke,
Colonial Williamsburg)

Paint parties

Local enrichment classes (e.g., Kaleidoscope, colleges, summer camps)

Learn to dance (ballroom or hip-hop!)

Try a few science experiments


Board games

Video games (together)

Games from your childhood


Miniature golf

Backyard theater

Swim in the pool

Dress up

Join a re-enactment

Theme based day camp adventures (e.g., Camp Half Blood)

Scavenger hunt

Host a hoe-down

Start a water gun or balloon fight

Start a manhunt game at night

Catch fireflies

Play Quidditch or Cricket



Rock climbing (gym or outdoors)

Trampoline park


Zip lining

Escape room

Ride a mountain coaster

Slide an alpine slide

Amusement park

Theme based adventures (e.g., Espionage and 20,000 Leagues at Patriots Place)

Renaissance Faire

White water rafting


Local movies at the park

Local concerts on the common


Professional soccer game

Minor league baseball game

Tall ships

Mansions (e.g., Newport RI)

Outdoor theaters

Local children’s theater

A parade



Distant family members

Neighbors during a block party

Host a progressive dinner party

Potential colleges

A new state or country

An ice cream or chocolate factory

A winery or brewery

Residents of a senior living facility


Crafts (e.g., jewelry, cards, etc.)

Comic book or children’s book

A song

A video

A poem

A Comedy routine

A recipe

A board game

Build a volcano

Plant a vegetable or flower garden


Sort your belongings



Host a “Pass It On” party: Invite friends to bring items they want to pass on to other friends

Scan your photographs & memorabilia; share your stories


Lemonade stand

Car wash

Items on eBay

Yourself - Write resume & college app

Hold a yard sale


Yardwork for seniors

Help animals: Humane Society, SPCA

Help families: Red Cross, local non-profit organizations

Feed families: Local soup kitchens

Vacation Bible School

Run a 5K road race or walk in a walkathon

What’s Next?

After you make the fun-in-the-sun memory with your family,

1 Turn your audio or video recorder on and allow each participant to replay the experience from his or her viewpoint (and in his or her own voice).

2 Talk about what you learned, what you liked, what you want to repeat, and what you never want to experience again. Share your childhood experiences.

3 While you are at it, visit or call your parents and grandparents to record their memories of their childhood fun in the sun!

4 Be sure to download your photos and recordings to at least 3 digital locations.

Email me your stories! I'd love to hear how you made some memories this summer.


This publication is based upon personal experience, research, and education. Although the author has made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this article, the author and Sunday Dinner Stories assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or inaccurate information. For privacy reasons, some names may have been changed or omitted. The content is not intended to replace common sense, legal, medical, or other professional advice; it is meant to encourage, inspire, educate, and inform the reader. That means you should consult with your attorney, doctors, and other professionals if you have any concern about implementing our advice. But we hope you'll consider us your memoir professionals and will consult us for all your storytelling needs!


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