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Treasure summer memories with friends

Half down, half to go. My weight-loss goal? Well, maybe. But I'm talking about summer. We wait 9 months for it to arrive, and then it's consumed faster than hot dogs at Nathan's Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest (where Takeru Kobayashi gained the mustard-yellow belt by wolfing down 50 dogs in 12 minutes). That's lightning speed.

Are you taking advantage of the precious days of freedom? Or have you settled into a comfortable pattern of lengthy hibernation, followed by a strenuous afternoon TV watching and computer gaming?

Instead of dully whittling away the hours like you would a paroleless jail sentence, why not jam pack the remainder of summer with a cornucopia of fun and worthwhile endeavors? Borrow some ideas from this list, or make your own. But despite your initial resistance, I think you'll just discover how healthy it is to mix it up just a little bit.

Camping: What better way to feel at one with nature than to venture into the wilderness, cook your dinner over a fire and stargaze as you make s'mores and tell ghost stories. Chester Woods and Whitewater are two easy trips that won't be too tough for the amateur scout. Grab your friends, some tents and, of course, ample provisions. Don't neglect safety precautions, as my last camping trip resulted in our most experienced Boy Scout slicing his finger trying to open a can of pineapple with a knife, having to hit the ER, and coming back with seven stitches.

Swimming: Beat the heat in natural (or chemically-controlled) bodies of water. But only brave the deep end if you can swim without water wings.

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Fireworks: Another dangerous parental-worry-inducing activity. On the Fourth, someone took a flaming ball to the leg. Save this fun for nighttime and open spaces. And no aiming at people!

Mini-golf/bowling: Traditional embarrassing leisure activities like these are what this country was founded on. Or not. But still, they're classic. Make these outings even more priceless by dressing in plaid shorts and bowling shirts that say Ed.

Biking: Workout, explore and get a sore butt all at once. There are lots of great trails just waiting to be tread.

Reading: According to Shape magazine, pleasure reading has gone down 10 percent since the '80s. Though Shape may not be the most trustworthy magazine on literary pursuits, it is clear that our society has become apathetic toward books. Reading is truly amazing when it's not required. You just have to do a little searching to find out what genres you're into. Don't overlook the library as a means of free entertainment.

Washing your car: Scrubbing old faithful may sound more like a tiresome chore, but I know if you put on some tunage and turn it into a dance party cleaning, not only will your ride sparkle, but you'll bubble over with enjoyment.

Road tripping: The ultimate summer experience. Cruise away for a day or a few with a map, some cash and a camera. Sing out the windows and stop to eat at small-town truck stops with waitresses named Roxy. Laugh with your friends and bask in their presence. Whether you have four more years together or just a month, the time will fly by like those coneys, so treasure these summer memories with your friends. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Kristen Brownlow is a graduate of Lourdes High School. To respond to an opinion column, call 252-1111, category TEEN (8336) or send e-mail to teenbeat@postbulletin.com.

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