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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. My family tends to travel to occupy our time because the TV at home is too tempting for binge-watching! 

    Because military 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.

    Group of school kids coloring outdoors looking happy

    Photo by Shutterstock 

    What's Worked for Us

    Classic summer fun sticks around because of its broad appeal. You can’t go wrong with a steamy afternoon at a splash pad or enjoying the cool AC in a dark theater. We’ve found lots of excitement in doing quintessential summertime activities. 

    Summer Camps

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


    • Day trips to amusement parks
    • Visit Amish country
    • Tour local historic sites
    • Spend hotel free point programs to explore cities 3 to 5 hours’ drive away
    • Ride the Amtrak train
    • For old time's sake, visit the house my daughter was born in 

    Historical sites and summer vacations go hand in hand. Have you checked out locales near you?


    • Offbeat museums
    • Concerts and movies in the park
    • Re-decorate/organize bedrooms and playrooms
    • Collect donations for charities like pet shelters
    • $10 shopping spree at the dollar store
    • Local library reading programs
    • Matinee $1 movies
    • Meet and greet school events over the summer 


    • Send daughter to visit grandparents for two weeks
    • Plan a cousin reunion
    • Write letters to far-away relatives
    • Meet for a local or professional baseball game 

    Kids at water park

    Photo from Canva

    We Want to Try

    With kids, you never know what will land when it comes to fun! Some days swimming is in, and the next day, it's out, so we’ll have plenty of backup plans to squeeze every bit of fun out of this summer.  


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

    One of the best parts of military life is the chance to explore. Check out some of our favorite travel resources.


    • Check out audiobooks 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 
    • 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 
    • Send care packages to Dad and his friends
    • Collect back-to-school supplies and new school clothes catalogs
    • Write out hopes and thoughts for the next grade level


    • Consider Anescerty.com to dig up long-lost family members
    • Create a family tree 
    • Ask family to send notes and packages to soldiers

    Dog-Friendly Fun 

    • Visit DIY dog wash salons
    • Make homemade frozen dog treats 
    • Plan a neighborhood dog party
    • Set up a dog portrait session with costumes and props
    • Create an agility course 
    • Teach your dog to find treats in a puzzle 

    If you're also trying to keep the family busy during summer during deployment, we'd love to hear from you. Would you add anything new? What boredom-buster ideas have worked for your family?

    Main photo from via Flickr user Nori.

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

    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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