Every summer, I feel the squeeze of my wallet as requests for summer camps, sport clinics and other activities come flooding through my door.  This year, I have sought out some not-so-costly ways to entertain my kids and make their summer just as much fun as that $60 ticket to Sea World.

First of all, start with your local Parks And Recreation Department (PARD).  Many PARDs have low-cost programs for kids during the summer, including swim lessons, craft classes and sport activities.  Our PARD even has free events throughout the summer, including a summer concert series and a movie night once a week.  We also have self-directed hiking activities with maps and explanations of markings along the paths, all available at our PARD office. 

My family LIVES for the Boys of Summer, and anytime we can catch a baseball game, we’re there.  However, paying up to $40 each to attend a major league game isn’t in our budget, so we look for other great games.  We have a minor league team about 30 minutes from our home, and we try to attend on Dollar nights.  Our local high school will play until the middle of June, and those games are usually free and in the evenings when it isn’t so oppressively hot.  We also have a college nearby that offers games at a low cost as well.  Our city Little League will be playing about six blocks from our house for the month of June, so we will catch a few games there as well.  Of course, don’t limit yourself to just baseball!  Look for other sporting events as well, and support your local athletes.

Explore your bigger backyard by looking for free or inexpensive outings just outside of town.  We have a blueberry farm about 10 miles from my in-laws’ house, so during the summer, we will visit and go blueberry picking.  We also have a peach orchard not too far from our house that allows for picnics and pick your own fruit activities.  Nothing tastes better than home grown produce.  Check your local paper for farmer’s markets and other outdoor markets nearby.