Three Reasons that Lane County is the Absolute Best Place to be During the Summer!
1. Willamalane's Summer Playground Program
Looking for something for your 1st through 5th graders to do? Willamalane's Summer Playground Program offers free, drop-in, organized activities such as art, games, literacy skill building, and supervised playtime. It runs Mondays-Thursdays from 10-3, and many of the playground sites are also free lunch sites (see below). One brand new offering from Willamalane is an Early Childhood Summer Playground, just for littles ages 3-5. Unlike the older kid sites, parental participation is required, and it's only at three locations. But how fun would songs, crafts, and games be for your preschool aged kiddo? I can't wait to check this one out. Eugene's parks and rec have a similar program, called Fun For All. These programs are awesome for encouraging kids to be outdoors, having fun, and holding onto those social and academic skills they work so hard to build during the school year.
Willamalane's site (this one does require registration)
2. Food for Lane County's Summer Food Program
Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch? Check the page below and find over 60 sites where kids ages 1-18 can get a free meal. I promise there's one close to you. Not only is lunch served from 12-1 Monday through Friday all over the county, but some site include breakfast and dinner as well. There is no income requirement, or need to register. You just show up and they give your kiddos lunch! A few details:
- Adults older than 18 cannot receive a lunch. I pack my own so we can eat together.
- The program wants you to eat all the food at the site. However, sometimes my kiddo doesn't finish all the food. I figure wrapping it up and taking it home with us is better than throwing it away, even though it means sort of bending the "eat all food on site" rule. I just can't stand wasting food.
- The lunch comes in a brown paper bag, and for some reason, this is so novel to kids. I find that my son eats stuff that he wouldn't normally eat at home, and often more food in general, and I totally chalk it up to peer pressure and the fact that I am letting him eat forbidden fruit (food from a stranger). :)
- This is a great way to visit new parks. We spend all summer checking out new play spots and eating free lunch afterwards.
- Food for Lane County is always looking for volunteers to prep the lunches. Before I had my kiddos, I spent a summer doing this, and it was a blast. Now that my oldest is 4, I am hoping to take him in so that we can help fix up the lunches together. I am thinking that a friend of mine will watch our youngest kiddos while I take the big kiddos to volunteer. What a neat opportunity to let littles serve their community.
- The meals are healthy and balanced and most importantly of all, ONE LESS MEAL FOR ME TO PREP, SERVE, AND CLEAN UP. Summer meals for the win!!!!!!!
Click here for more info
3. United Way's Summer Reading Spots
Here's how this works: you show up. Your kid sits on a blanket and listens to stories. Your kid picks out a free book to take home. You leave. Ah-maze-ing. Okay, fine, there's a little more to it than just that. But only a very little. Summer Reading runs Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at three spots in Lane County: Springfield, Eugene, and Cottage Grove. It lasts an hour, from 1:00-2:00. It's a drop in/out program, so you don't have to be there right at 1, and you don't have to stay all the way until 2. We find that it works best if we get there close to the beginning, and then stay as long as the attention span of the littles lasts. The first time you go, you fill out a short registration form, and your kiddo gets a paper that United Way files and keeps on site. Each time your kiddo attends, they get to put a sticker on their paper. When they get a certain number of stickers, they get to choose a prize. Wonderful volunteers sit on blankets with stacks of books and read to the lucky kiddos who attend. It is super fun. It's really informal - so if you have a six year old who will sit for the entire hour and listen quietly - great! Go! If you have a squirmy 18 month old who will only last through a book or two - great! Go! When you leave, you can pick out a book to take home. And you don't just get to take a book the first time - you can take one EACH time! How cool is that? Two things:
- This program is always accepting donations of lightly loved books, so this is a good chance to clear out your bookshelves to make room for some new stories!
- All three Summer Reading Spots are also free lunch sites, so you can show up, eat, read, and be merry!
Click here for all the information.
Please go check out these wonderful and free activities! What did I miss? Please share! Happy Adventuring!