An Alternative to the Summer Bucket List

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I absolutely adore summer bucket lists. In fact, I've created a whole Pinterest board dedicated to my favorite ones. Each summer I download a bunch of lists, pick a few items that appeal to me from each, and combined them to create my own.

Our family has been moderately successful at checking things off the list. In the past, we start off strong and fade as August approaches. Then I spend the week before school starts cramming in as many things as I can.

Like most goals without a plan, very little gets accomplished. So I do my best to schedule movie nights, beach days, and museum trips before the summer begins.

Our summer bucket list is only meant to serve as a reminder to be intentional about the ways we spend time together. 

If I get to the end of the summer and I haven’t checked off enough things off the list I’m disappointed. However, I am too hard on myself because regardless, we still had a great summer.

This year we’re trying something new. Instead of a summer bucket list, filled individual things we want to do, we created a list of summer project list. The key to making these ideas stick is getting the kids involved. They came up with the ideas and together we brainstormed to determine what each would look like.

Intentional living isn't just for grownups

Ice Cream Sundays

Instead of the typical Make Homemade Ice Cream, we have designated Sundays as Ice Cream Sundays.  Each week, one child will choose a recipe, make a list of ingredients, freeze the ice cream maker core, and prepare the recipe on Sunday afternoon. My daughter will share the recipes we have chosen on her blog.

Why I love this: It teaches responsibility as they follow through on a task, from beginning to end. It allows them to serve their family. I am anticipating we’ll be inviting friends over to help us eat some of the ice cream, so they’ll be able to practice hospitality as well.

Summer Backyard Movie Series

Another common bucket list each summer is Movie Night. Building on this idea, we created a Summer Movie Series. We have chosen three dates and three movies. My kids helped me make a flyer that can be sent to friends letting them know, if weather permits, they are welcome to join us to watch a movie in our backyard. We’ll provide popcorn, drinks, and glow sticks. All they need to do is show up with a blanket or lawn chair.

Why I love this: Text and emails are the easy ways to get the word out about an event. Instead, we are using our creativity and design skills to create a flyer that we can give to friends. Sometimes we say we are going to do something but never get around to it. Inviting people over with designated dates provides accountability.


Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt using a GPS device. You navigate to a specific set of coordinates to find the geocache (container) hidden at a specific location. There are millions of hidden containers scattered throughout more than 185 countries, waiting to be found—you’ll be surprised to find out there are some near you right now. Common Summer Bucket List items, such as picnics, biking, and treasure hunt, can all be combined in this activity.

The Geocaching App By Groundspeak Inc. shows you the locations of caches and the paid membership has additional features such as advanced search tools and offline use.

We decided to get the upgrade. In order to get our money's worth, we are planning at least 3 excursions to local parks. Each of my kiddos will choose one location. They also decided to hide our own geocache for others to find.

Why I love this: The kids work together to find the geocaches so it promotes teamwork. Since the kids will be responsible for picking the locations and dates, it will require research and decision making.

These three projects alone be enough to keep us busy in between camps and lazy days at the pool. We will still have a mini-bucket list which will includes visit a museum, visit a sculpture garden, go to the beach, go to an outdoor concert, sleep in a tent, play croquet, play tennis, volunteer in the community. However, we will be more focused on following through on our projects than on out list.