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Screen-Free Summer Fun

Happy Summer! Are you looking for a few extra ‘screen-free’ ideas for your kids this summer—either at home or on those long car rides? It’s great to spend time together doing outdoor activities in the summer, but sometimes the kids need to just chill for a bit or you need to get a few tasks done. As you will know, one of the easiest ways to limit screen time without causing a lot of conflict is to offer another activity that is equally appealing. Here are a couple of our current favourites.


Audio Books: These are a wonderful way to enjoy being carried away into your imagination by stories. Your child can listen alone, with you, or with the whole family. I started this with my son a couple of years ago when we were reading the Harry Potter series together. I’d be reading to my son, and we’d be deeply engaged and sitting on the edge of our seat to find out what was going to happen next—then my voice would get tired. Once we started with audio books, we loved it! If I have to work for an hour or two and would prefer my son not be on video games, I make sure I have a new audio book available and he’s totally engrossed in that while I work. We now often listen together at bedtime, or sometimes when we’re doing mundane tasks like washing dishes or folding laundry. We just re-listened to the entire Harry Potter series this spring, and we especially love Jim Dale’s narration because he does such an amazing job of using different voices and accents for each of the characters. It wasn’t long before I could recognize each character’s voice as he read. I highly recommend it. We also listen to audio-books on long car rides. It eliminates or greatly reduces the angst of “When are we going to be there?” In fact, sometimes I have to say “Okay! It’s time to get out of the car!”


Check the library for your favourite book series in audio books, OR


Another of our favourite pastimes is listening to Stuart McLean audio books. While they’re not necessarily aimed at children, many children enjoy them. My son has been listening to Stuart McLean since he was about 8 and loves the stories. We have quite a collection of our own CD’s as “Santa” often brings our family a 4 CD set, but many of McLean’s audio books are available in our local library here in Victoria or on iTunes. One of our favourite summer ‘theme’ stories is “The Waterslide”, a classic story of childhood summer adventure and fun that morphs into a grand scheme of epic proportions—but remains undetected by adults—well, all responsible adults anyways. That story can be found on the album Planet Boy.


Wilderness School: Thriving Roots Wilderness School is offering one camp in Victoria, BC this summer and it starts next week. My son has been attending their programs since last October for 1 day per week and it has been life-changing. His confidence has grown beyond what I could have imagined. The leaders are extensively trained and skilled in coyote mentoring. I have had a huge wave of emotion and tears at the end of each term this past year as we sat in circle with the children and held space while the leaders and other participants acknowledged each child for specific aspects of themselves that they had appreciated or noticed throughout the term. Seldom have I found a place where I could bring my child and have him so respectfully welcomed and acknowledged.

On the surface, the leaders teach skills such as recognition of trees and local plants, safe carving with a knife, respect for others and for nature—mostly through games and storytelling. Beneath the surface there is a deliberate intention to see and hear your child for who he/she is and what he/she brings to the community, and to foster curiosity, connection with the Earth & nature, creativity, connection with self and community in the deepest possible way. The program is based on the 8 shields model by Jon Young. I highly recommend all programs at Thriving Roots Wilderness School.


If you live outside of the local Victoria area, I’d encourage you to look for a similar program in your area—based on the teachings of Jon Young and/or Tom Brown Jr.

The program in Vancouver, BC is Soaring Eagle Nature School.





On another note, I’ve been rather quiet on the blogging front recently, because I’ve been immersed in writing a book on fostering intrinsic motivation in children. If you, or someone you know, has a child between the ages of 8 and 18 who seems to be ‘checking out’ and disengaged—at school or at home, stay tuned to hear more this fall/winter.  If you are looking for assistance on this topic sooner, please contact me directly at or 250-744-0207.


Thanks for reading through to the end!


I wish you a happy summer making great memories with your families.






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