Adventure Day: Surviving the Summer Doldrums in Phoenix

Summer is fast approaching, and while we all love the extra time with the kids, we dread those summer doldrums. Looking for guidance, I would peruse the magazine rack at the grocery store for creative ideas and find countless articles titled, “Explore the Outdoors” “Celebrate Nature this Summer” or “Send the Kids Outside to Play”. . . These are all great themes for this time of year, except . . . we live in Phoenix, Arizona where the average temperature in the summer exceeds 105 and often rises above 110.

The problem for most Arizona parents is that the kids are off school when the weather is at its worst. When my kids were young, I would look forward to the relaxed time with them, but dreaded being locked inside. (I suppose those of you with severe winters can relate). It was a time for creativity, so I declared one day a week devoted to library day (always a bonus that libraries have great air conditioning) and one day a week for Adventure Day.

Adventure Day was a big hit with the kids and became a sacred tradition that my now adult children still talk about. We would all brainstorm local places and activities we wanted to go or do during the summer break and write them down on individual slips of paper. Each of us (myself and my three kids) got to select two of their choices. Mom had the right to veto those items that were out of the budget, unsafe or just plain unrealistic (I had to cut flying to the California beach for the day, skydiving, and running with the bulls).

After we shared our selections we folded up the pieces of paper and put them in an Adventure Day jar. Every Sunday night before bed, we would take turns picking one paper out of the jar for that week’s Adventure Day. Adventure Day was a bit later in the week so we could plan our time. When the day came, we would hop in the car belt out our Adventure Day theme song (a parody of Hurray for Hollywood) in true Ethel Merman style.

There was no grumbling allowed if you didn’t like the week’s pick because you knew yours would come soon. I had to endure arcades and laser tag, but my kids had to cheerfully go to the art or science museum. Some weeks I would allow the kids to bring a friend, but we had the most fun when it was just us (The kids sometimes got embarrassed when mom belted out the Adventure Day theme song in the car, but that was part of the deal if you brought a friend). If the budget allowed, I would close the Adventure Day season at the end of summer break with a big-ticket item like a visit to a local water park.

Some of my favorite Adventure Days were:
• Breakfast at the Zoo (the Phoenix Zoo opens early in the summer and we would pack a picnic breakfast and eat with the chimpanzees).
• Our local children’s museums or science museum – they sometimes offered summer discounts.
• Going to the airport to watch the planes take off and land (when the kids were little this was a kick, but didn’t make the list as they got older).
• We don’t have a beach, but the local “wave” pool was always on the list.
• Early morning hikes in the nearby mountains.
• Ok , I admit it . . . I did love laser tag, but the arcades drove me crazy.

Now grown, my kids will sometimes spontaneously bust out with our Adventure Day theme song when we gather! It just warms my heart (but not too warm, it is after all, Phoenix!)

Alice is the owner of Songs for Teaching. She has three adult children who still love to go on adventures together.

Create a playlist of songs for your Adventure Days this summer! See our suggestions for Songs for Summer Break See also our list of Folk Songs, Campfire Songs
and out list for Library Summer Reading Program Theme Songs.

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