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    Ideas to Keep Kids Busy During the Long Days of a Summer Deployment


    We have another summer with a deployed daddy on the horizon, and I am already searching for more ways to keep us occupied.

    Military kids who aren’t moving this summer tend to get infected with cases of “I’m booorrreeed” quickly. Because we parents are all in the same boat trying to survive boredom and sibling fighting over summer vacation, I’ll share my collection of activities that we have done successfully. I’ll also list the ideas we plan to try this summer.

    Admittedly, my family tends to travel in effort to occupy our time, because the TV at home is too much of a temptation for binge watching! I’d be grateful to hear about any tips readers have to spend the long deployment days.

    flickr_kids_living_room.jpgvia Flickr user Nori

    What's Worked for Us

    Summer Camps

    • Pricey horseback riding
    • Inexpensive vacation Bible school
    • Affordable rec center day camps like ice skating


    • Day trips to amusement parks
    • Visiting Amish country
    • Touring local historic sites
    • Using free hotel point programs to explore cities 3-5 hours’ drive away
    • Boarding the Amtrak train
    • For old time's sake, visiting the house my daughter was born in 


    • Off beat museums
    • Concerts and movies in the park
    • Re-decorating/organizing bedrooms and play rooms
    • Collecting donations for charities like pet shelters
    • 10-dollar shopping spree at the dollar store
    • Local library reading programs
    • Matinee dollar movies


    • Sent daughter to visit grandparents for 2 weeks
    • Planned a cousin reunion
    • Writing letters to far away relatives

    We Plan to Try


    • Meet old friends from states away at the halfway mark
    • Let my daughter pick a reasonable destination to visit
    • Plan our annual winter trip


    • Check out audio books from the library
    • Go to more live productions
    • Teach my 5th grader cursive (our school system nixed the skill)
    • Visit brick and mortar bookstores
    • Enroll in a dog obedience glass designed for kids to learn
    • Shop in an ethnic market
    • Eat at a restaurant with unfamiliar cuisine
    • Pool hop on nearby military facilities
    • Use the research databases online through the local library system (think Nat Geo Kids)
    • Send care packages to Dad and his friends
    • Watch the new PBS Yellowstone series together
    • Collect back to school supplies and new school clothes catalogs
    • Write out hopes and thoughts for the next grade level


    • Investigate a family tree (our daughter might be eligible for the Daughters of the American Revolution!)
    • Just for fun, consider the commercial ancestry DNA kits
    • Ask family to send notes and packages to soldiers

    We will also very likely revisit tried and true activities from summers past, like aquariums and water parks. The one activity I encourage every family to try is a military kid buddy program. These programs connect kids who are moving in the neighborhood with those who are veterans to the local schools. Each military kid deserves to see a friendly face the first day of school.

    Are you PCS'ing this summer? MilitarybyOwner is stocked with advice about how to travel and have fun inexpensively. Tips for military lodging and Space A Travel are only two of the topics available for reference.

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    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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