As a parent, raising children through the teen years can be perplexing and difficult. Almost overnight, our sweet boys and girls morph into young adults. Unfortunately, this transition is complicated and often accompanied by slamming doors and unpredictable swinging moods. Suddenly, we are back to square one when it comes to navigating our teen’s emotions and needs.
This period of development can easily lead to a disconnect in the family if we are not careful. We need to remember that just because our kids have a deeper voice and can legally drive a vehicle, they still need a relationship with us. We need to look for new activities that can help us bond and build upon the foundation we layed when they were younger. This can be more difficult now that our kids are older, but it isn’t impossible.
8 Teen Friendly Family Activities to Try This Summer
To help us during this unique parenting phase, we have compiled the following list of eight summer and outdoor family activities to try with our teens:
Go camping. Teens may balk at leaving the modern comforts behind, namely their electronics. However, spending a few days and nights in the great outdoors provides ample opportunities for the family to connect while exploring new environments. Evenings spent around the campfire talking or telling stories will be something they remember forever, plus it gives us some one-on-one time without interruptions from friends and technology.
Embrace frisbee golf. Many local parks and state recreation areas have built elaborate frisbee golf courses for public use. On a beautiful day, take the kids out for an impromptu round and enjoy the company. If your family enjoys this game, join a league or register for a tournament together.
Grow something together. Our children are more than capable working alongside us as we grow a garden or tend a section of plants. This will give them something to nurture during the warmer months and they will reap the rewards of their efforts in the form of healthy veggies, brilliant fruits, and beautiful flowers. Use guides to choose the right plants for the zone you live in or to find flowers that have special meanings. Kids might balk at the idea of weeding or pruning, but ultimately they will enjoy sharing their harvests with neighbors, donating to the local food pantry, or canning their yields for the winter months. This will give our kids a better appreciation of knowing where their food comes from and the effort it really takes to put a meal on the table.
Hold on tight. If you have an adventurous teen, consider visiting an ATV course or try your hand at white water rafting. Just remember to learn how to safely operate the equipment and wear appropriate safety gear. This just might be the experience of a lifetime!
Create large yard versions of their favorite board games for endless fun. Help them channel their inner child and revisit classic games like Jenga, Chess, or Kerplunk for the outdoors. If you don’t want to try your hand at crafting these grown-up recreations, bring out lawn golf, croquet, or badminton for games to involve the whole family. The main idea is to get everyone outside and playing together.
Have an outdoor movie night. Revisit the nostalgia of drive-in movies with a sheet and a projector in your own backyard. If you don’t have access to a projector, your teen can put their engineering skills to work and build a makeshift projector using a shoebox and Smarthphone. Finally, choose a classic or modern film that everyone can enjoy, buy some bug spray, and pop some popcorn for a night spent watching movies in the backyard.
Go star gazing. We always tell our kids to dream big and shoot for the stars. Literally take this sage advice and spend the summer nights gazing up at the heavens. Find a book or app to locate constellations and track the movement of the night sky. It doesn’t matter if you have a telescope or just lie on your backs, you will be taking in Mother Nature’s beauty while creating new memories.
Create a family living space outdoors. As a family, design a space outdoors that extends the family’s living space outside. Make sure you have plenty of comfortable seating and shade to keep everyone healthy. Consider adding a firepit, hammock, or water feature. This will make it a more enticing area for everyone to gather for dinner, s’mores, and games in the evening.
How do you plan on keeping your teen enjoying outdoor family activities this summer?
Amy Williams is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be.