Summer: the Shabbat of the School Year?

What are we supposed to do with our kids over the summer? We’re overwhelmed by options, from traditional summer camps to ninja classes, we could program every minute of our kids’ days if we wanted to. But what if we saw summer as the Shabbat of the school year, a time to power down and plug into our families? Whether you already have a roster of camps and classes on the books, or you’re planning on opening the front door and seeing your kid as the sun goes down, let’s use the summer as a time to practice mindfulness as a family. Boulder has made a business selling mindfulness through potions, powders, and yoga, but these aren’t the only ways to be in the moment and together as a family. Here are just a few ideas we have for how to reconnect to your family this summer:

  1. Family Book Club: Summer reading isn’t just for students. Encourage your teen to share their summer reading list with the family and use it to start a family book club. This will make your teen feel like you’re invested in their homework, and make summer reading fun. When you finish the assigned reading, add one of your favorite books to the list!

  2. Colorado Bucket List: Travel doesn’t have to require days off, tons of money and planning time; get your teens to create a Colorado Bucket List AND make them plan the trip! Give your kids a budget and a maximum driving time and let them plan a trip. Some suggestions: Manitou Springs (including Garden of the Gods and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo), Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Rocky Mountain National Park, Denver Graffiti Walking Tours (including a trip to the new Israeli restaurant, Safta), Dinosaur National Monument, picnics at Gross Reservoir or Woods Quarry, and so much more!

  3. Volunteer as a Family: There are some incredible volunteer opportunities open, even at the Boulder JCC. If you want to be outside, there are spots open to help at Milk & Honey Farm at the J, you can help groom your favorite trails with OSMP or Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, or even work on climbing routes with the Boulder Climbing Community. For a meaningful Jewish connection, you can contact Jewish Family Services to see if there’s a one-time opportunity, or you can sign up as a family to be a friendly visitor and adopt a client to visit weekly.

  4. Shabbat Dinners: Shabbat doesn’t have to be solemn—think of it as a celebration! L’cha Dodi, the song we sing to welcome Shabbat literally talks about it as though we are welcoming a bride into the room for a wedding, so it’s a time to party! Make Friday night dates to have movie nights, board game nights, hikes, and more! Again, if you’re at work all day, leave it to your teens to plan the night, or even cook the dinner.

    Whatever you do and whatever you sign your kids up for this summer, make sure you get some time to reconnect with the people who matter most. And we look forward to connecting with all of you this summer as well—let us know if you want to grab some coffee or ice cream and find out more about BJTI!