Let's Talk: Kids and Community – How Will Your Kids Be Involved this Summer?

The following post originally appeared in May 2010. With Summer just around the corner, and many of us making plans for the warmers months, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the concept of getting our kids involved in our local communities. The comments are open for discussion. – Kara

We live in a computer age, and for some aspects of that I am thankful.  I feel lucky to be able to contribute as a member of the blogging communities, message forums, and email loops I am a part of.  I enjoy connecting with other parents through Facebook and Twitter. But what about my local community?

Am I being as involved with my physical neighbors as my virtual ones?  I hope so.

If your climate is like mine, the warmer weather and increased free-time in the summer months make unplugging from the computer and being more active in our neighborhood communities possible.  The joke in my rural Indiana neighborhood is that as the snow melts we can all remember what our neighbors look like again without all those hats and scarves and giant parkas.

My kids and I already have plans for being active in our local community this summer, including:

  • Visiting the weekly Farmer”s Market
  • Enrolling in the library”s Summer reading program
  • Taking swim lessons
  • Participating in our neighborhood yard sale
  • The

But I”ve been feeling convicted to do more this summer.  I”ve been pondering what it means to be a good local citizen and how to get my kids involved.

This quote in Megan”s article on Simple Mom has inspired me:

“If your children are old enough, talk with them about what they see as a problem or issue in your community which doesn’t seem to receive much attention. Investigate the road blocks on the path to a solution, and if possible, begin the process of solving the problem.” 10 Ideas to Inspire Community Connections This Summer

I want to teach my kids about being part of the solution and what it means to be a responsible, caring citizen. So, I”ve been brainstorming how we can act locally to care for our community.

Here are a few ideas that I”ve come up with:

  • A Block Party – our street used to have one but no one wants to take on the responsibility for putting it together anymore.  My husband and I are fairly good at organizing events and the kids and I certainly aren”t short on enthusiasm.  This is a need we could fill and the party wouldn”t have to be elaborate to be fun and help our neighbors get to know each other.
  • Supporting Local Animal Rescue – our rural community is, unfortunately, a dumping ground for stray dogs and cats.  Our local animal rescue is a small privately run organization that relies on volunteers and donations to take care of the animals they take in.  The kids and I could contact them to see what they need and ask them how we can best serve them.
  • Keeping It Clean – remembering to take a garbage bag along on our walks so we can pick up any trash we see.  Also, making sure to clean up after ourselves and encouraging our others to do the same.  If we all work together, we can keep our neighborhood beautiful.

So, Let”s Talk:

How will you be encouraging your kids to get involved in your local community this summer? What opportunities will you be looking for to demonstrate good citizenship? Or just being neighborly? How will you and your kids be making connections this Summer?

The comments are open for discussion. I”m looking forward to reading your ideas for getting your kids in involved in your local communities.

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. i like your ideas! we plan to do most of the same things, too. my daughter’s birthday is next week and, once again, she’s asked her guests to bring donations for the animal shelter instead of presents. last year, she also had a lemonade stand and donated the profits to the animal shelter. she is such a generous soul!
    .-= dana´s last blog ..Homemade Stromboli =-.

  2. Dana, I love the idea of asking guests to bring donations to the animal shelter instead of presents. What a thoughtful idea!

    And, oh, a lemonade stand … good idea …. thinking that one over ….. :-)
    .-= Kara Fleck´s last blog ..A Favorite Spring Picture Book Review: Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! =-.

  3. These are great ideas! We will be doing many of those activities also – block parties, garage sale, farmers market, and my husband is going to organize a weekly soccer lesson in our backyard for the neighborhood kids. I love the idea of exploring something new once a week too.

  4. This is a great post! We will be doing some of these things too. Plus we are involved in volunteer door to door ministry with our congregation. The kids get to meet new people and it helps them to strengthen their spirituality.

    I’m interested in the Explore something new locally challenge. I will have to check that out.
    .-= Rana´s last blog ..Are you getting LOST tonite? =-.

  5. Thanks Kara. I shared this on Facebook. This post is really encouraging me to get out there with my 4-year-old instead of just thinking about it!

  6. Our township is building a new dog park and looking for volunteers of any age to help finish the landscaping work. We’re scheduled to put some time in there as something different this year.
    .-= Tina@RideonToys´s last blog ..The Spray And Ride Rescue Truck For Little Firefighters =-.

    • The dog park landscaping – cool! Creative and something that your community will be able to use and appreciate, and that your kids will be able to see grow and develop as the landscaping grows, too. Love it :-)

  7. Simply spending time outside in the front yard (instead of the back yard) is a great way to make neighborhood connections and get involved. This is the main way we’ve met our neighbors – and it also led to planning a beginning-of-summer sidewalk dinner for the whole block and a weekly playdate for young kids in our area!

  8. I LOVE this post; I love your camping ideas and your ideas for local helping for different charities. How important for children to see!

    Building a community is so important! I love this post. Thanks, Kara!
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..Changing Our Parenting Language =-.

  9. I love these ideas – I think we’ll try the Farmer’s Market this week.

  10. Christen says:

    Great post, Kara! It’s a nice reminder to maintain those important personal connections. It’s easy to get lost in the virtual world!

    My three year old daughter and I plan to host a baked good stand with “The Great American Bake Sale” http://gabs.strength.org/site/PageServer?pagename=GABS_homepage. The proceeds from the bake sale are donated to Share Our Strength – a charity committed to end childhood hunger. I thought it would be a fun activity but also a wonderful service opportunity for my little one!

    • That is terrific, Christen! Thanks for sharing the link :-) A bake sale to end childhood hunger – what a terrific idea!

  11. Hi Kara! I really like this post. I’m thinking about summer too and the farmer’s market idea is a perfect excursion to plan for.
    I also just posted a long inspired list of things to do for summer fun and one of them involved having the neighborhood kids put together a back yard carnival. We did this once and the kids created all the props and booths from cardboard boxes and from things around the house. It was quite an event and we raised money for a charity. This event brought many kids together in the summer, gave a focus for ingenuity and community spirit. The kids had a blast and felt in charge too.

  12. I’ve found that the one advantage to living in Stairwell housing (an apartment in a building of 6 apartments) is that we’re so close by to our neighbours that we *have* to know them! We’re lucky that we have some great people living nearby, the summer is usually spent outdoors all together in our shared yard. The sense of community we get from this is fantastic and all of our children get to play together which is great for mine as he’s a single.

    The fun almost helps us forget that we can hear one another flushing our toilets through the walls when we’re home 😉
    .-= Satakieli´s last blog ..Chocolate Raspberry Biscotti =-.

  13. I sat my 8 yr old son down to discuss ways he could do more for people, animals, and the planet. I told him we would pick one day a week to do something that makes the world a better place. He asked, “Why do we have to pick one day?” I couldn’t answer. I was floored. So I promised him if he could come up with a different activity that we could do each day, I would help him do it. The catch is that the activities have to be low cost, don’t take longer than an hour, don’t require special skills, and are safe. Everyday Heroes Challenge was born!
    Mariah M´s latest post: Independent Play Method Series – Be Prepared

  14. Beautiful ideas….
    I agree that we are connected in the virtual world but do not consciously connect enough in the real world…
    The block party sounds like a fun idea. I also like Dana’s idea of a ‘lemonade stand’. Here, in India, as the temperatures go soaring in these months, people often place lemonade stands even on streets for thirsty pedestrians…

  15. Yes! Thank you for these important reminders! With all the demands of raising children and running a household, is so easy to become self-absorbed as a family. The temptations to avoid reaching out and put off getting involved are things we need to overcome.
    Julia´s latest post: Childrens Book Week 2011- Progress Report

  16. Jennie says:

    Some great ideas here! I shared it on Facebook.

  17. These are such great ideas Kara. My kids are a little bit older (17/12) and we plan to volunteer as a family for a summer park program for families in need. My oldest has also worked for years at our church’s vacation bible school and now my youngest will be able to volunteer as well. Than ks for reminding me about our Farmer’s Market – I forget about it and that is a great way to stay connected! :)
    Paula@Simply Sandwich´s latest post: I am Capturing!

  18. What a neat website you have here. I have been thinking about this a great deal lately. My kids and I have taken a garbage bag with us to school in order to collect trash, and we hosted an open garden this weekend for the community. I love the backyard campout idea and think we will join along for that as well.
    Sachi´s latest post: this moment

  19. just making sure to talk to our neighbors when we’re out. sounds simple, but i have to remember!

  20. I said this last year, but this year I really want to make the cul-de-sac barbeque happen. We just spent Saturday helping plant potatoes on our CSA Farm and my 3 year old keeps asking when the farmers market opens.

    Our playgroup also does Field Trips once a month. We’ve found that so many organizations – police station, fire station, garbage company, local farm, fish hatchery, small airports, TV news station, Dept of Transportation, conservation groups, etc – are more than willing to give a little tour to our giggling group of 3 year olds. It’s great fun and gives the kids (and moms!) a better sense of our community.
    Alissa´s latest post: Wordless Wednesday- Dance Party


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