It is that time again. What time, you wonder. Time to start working on my summer plans. I call this project my Summer of Intentionality and it was born from something a friend’s family did while he was growing up. Here’s the story:
For a LOT of summers, I worked at an intensive, residential, summer enrichment program for high school students called Love of Learning. The program always began with a very intense, often emotional staff retreat to help us form bonds and make plans that would enrich our work. Usually, the retreat started with the writing of personal mission statements. I LOVED writing my mission statement (and included a mission statement writing exercise in Beautiful You) and hearing everyone else’s. One of my closest co-workers was a dear friend who was a year behind me in college. One year, he include part of Rudyard Kipling’s If in his mission statement, adding the words from the top of his head as he and I worked in the corner with some chocolate candy between us.
“Dude, how did you know that?” I asked, impressed.
And that’s when he shared about the coolest parenting strategy I’ve ever heard.
Every summer that he was growing up (I believe this started the summer before Kindergarten), his parents sat him down and said, “what all do you want to do this summer?” And he would come up with this super list: go to the local amusement park, check out a pro or semi-pro baseball game, have a friend spend the night, camp out, go to the beach, you know the stuff of little kids’ (and not so little kids’) summer dreams. They then said, “what do you want to learn or experience this summer” and that list would read like: learn how to throw a football spiral, identify 5 insects, write grandma three times, read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, etc. Then his parents would add their own things to the learn or experience list like “Memorize Rudyard Kipling’s If”, “volunteer”, etc. Next, they’d line up reward with experience. Write your grandma three times, you can go camping, etc. Memorize Kipling’s If and you get to go to a baseball game. Those lists hit the refrigerator and then it was up to my friend, by being intentional about how he spent his time, to make things happen. If he did what was on the “to experience” list, he earned what was on the ”to do” list. Hence, more than a decade later, he still had If (a great poem for a kid to know) in his head. Does it come as NO surprise that this friend is the one whose parents let him fall asleep reading?
Anyway, I tell you about this now for two reasons.
1. I have a lot of friends who have kids who are the perfect age for the summer lists. And it is just too great an idea for me NOT to share it. So maybe it inspires you and will work for your family.
2. That said, while Happy is a little bit too young to get the full corollary of the list, we do it some at our house, too, because I love a good list and a list is the best way to get me out of my routine and doing fun things for me and for Happy.
May 1st kicks off my Summer of Intentionality brainstorming. When I have my list put together, I’ll share it here and then update you over the summer with how it is going. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Could you see Summer of Intentionality working in some way or form at your house? What would you put on your list for you? How about for your family members?
Curious about last year’s list? See it here.