For parents, summer often evokes memories of family vacations, days at the pool and playing outside. But for too many kids, video games and on-demand TV shows renders those active days a thing of the past. The greater Austin YMCA has a few suggestions to make the summertime as active and enriching as the school year.

Play Early: Nix the morning TV/video game ritual and plan outdoor activities in the early hours of the day when the sun and heat are less of a factor.

Break at Noon: Plan your lunch breaks close to noon and keep a regular nutrition and hydration schedule. Summer treats like ice cream and popsicles are okay as an occasional indulgence, but make water, fruit and other nourishing natural foods your go-to choice on a daily basis.

Family Hikes: Load up the backpack with snacks and water and explore the Hill Country, parks and watering holes in the surrounding areas such as Krause Springs, Enchanted Rock or the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Day Camps: Summer is a perfect time to explore new interests and cultivate existing passions. And for working parents, day camp is often a must in coordinating around busy schedules. Fortunately, hundreds of organizations offer camps in every category imaginable.

Neighborhood Fun: Sometimes the best summer days are those spent running amok with neighborhood friends. Having your child check in with you regularly and putting out signs notifying drivers of children in the area will reduce your stress level and ensure a safe-haven for your kids and their friends to play.

Pool Days: Pack plenty of SPF 30+ sunscreen, water and toys for the days at the pool. Safety is a priority when it comes to water, so don’t allow your child to swim unless there is a lifeguard on duty, and always keep an eye on them even when lifeguards are present. For kids still learning to swim, the Austin Y offers lessons for all ages and all skill levels, and financial assistance is available. Details are available at

As parents, we have to remember that kids follow our example. So it’s up to us to model the behavior we want to see. When we do that, our kids will grow up healthy and happy.

The YMCA offers more than 20 day camp options across Travis and Hays counties, including Kinder, Theme, Sports and Adventure camps. All camps offer swimming, field trips, games, crafts and character development activities. Camps are open to kids ages 4-16. Parents can get more details or register their kids by calling (512) 236-YMCA or visiting

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