Five free ways to beat your kids' summer blahs
Here are five ideas to entertain, educate or exercise your kids during these last few weeks of summer. (file photo)
Published Friday, August 10, 2018 6:23PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 14, 2018 2:18PM PDT
It is a statement usually said emphatically and accompanied by a theatrical sigh.
It’s also a statement which can send shivers through parents who have run out of ideas (and enough cash) to keep their kids busy over a long, hot summer.
So here are five ideas to entertain, educate or exercise your kids during these last few weeks of summer.
They are all free.
Catch of the Day
Cool floating homes can inspire your kids’ creativity at Fisherman’s Wharf. At this working harbour children get a sense of what it is really like to fish for a living as commercial fishing vessels are unloaded. The wharf is also a prime viewing spot for marine wildlife, like seals and otters. The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority provides free life jackets for the visit.
“It’s a good thing for parents who’ve got young children. If they want to put a life vest on we’ve got them there on loan and they can use them,” said Ian Robertson, CEO of the GVHA.
He said the colourful, eclectic mix of things to see and do appeals to kids young and old.
“I’m always amazed at how there’s a broad cross section of people of all ages down there enjoying it.”
Fisherman’s Wharf is just around the corner from Victoria’s Inner Harbor.
Turn the Page
The library may not be the first thing that comes to mind on a hot summer day but the Greater Victoria Public Library’s Summer Challenge program has plenty to do inside or outside.
Devon Tatton, a Public Services Librarian, said there are 18 short and fun challenges.
“There are things like, go and find a free little library in your neighbourhood and take a photo and send it to us on social media,” she said.
One of Tatton’s personal favourites is the “show us your book face” challenge.
“That’s where you find a book with a face on it, and then you take a picture holding it up in front of your face so it looks like the book is your face,” she added. “ That’s a really fun one to do because you can do it with any book. You can have a cartoon face, you can have a realistic face.”
Each entry on Twitter or Facebook goes into a weekly prize draw.
Pick up a free brochure of Haunted Victoria at Tourism Victoria’s Info Centre or print one up at home.
You can head out on a downtown walk to 10 of Victoria’s most haunted spots. But be sure to look over your shoulder, as ghosts may be in hot pursuit.
The architect of the Empress Hotel is known to walk the halls swinging his cane. Listen closely at Bastion Square where it is said a prisoner still clanks his chains and the notes of a long dead organist can still be heard.
Another free outing is a guided parliamentary tour.
Tourism Victoria has plenty of information on free events.
Seal the Deal at Witty’s Lagoon
Witty’s Lagoon is a family favourite with a long, sandy beach, easy and challenging hiking trails, look outs and a nature centre.
Emma Jane Vignola, a park naturalist with CRD Regional Parks, said this is the perfect time to go because seals are having their pups.
The Tower Point entrance is closest to the best vantage point.
“There are some rocky islands right in front of you so you get to view these seals from a safe distance but you get to see them pretty close up. You get to hear the sounds and watch how the seal pups interact with the mothers,” said Vignola.
The beach area also has tide pools where the kids can see all kinds of creatures.
“It usually gets a lot of curiosity and gets kids thinking about those animals and what they need to live. It allows them to connect with nature and try new things,” said Vignola.
She recommends comfortable walking shoes or sturdy sandals.
Don’t forget sun hats, sunscreen and lots of water, as you may end up spending a lot more time here than you expected.
S’more History with your S’more
You don’t need to pitch a tent to join in on special Saturday night campfires in Sidney at which Coast Salish knowledge holder, MENEŦIYE Elliot, and a Parks Canada interpreter share campfire stories.
Elliot tells the original people’s stories, then Sue Kronen, acting interpreter for Gulf Islands National Park Reserve tells a Parks Canada story on the same topic.
“My story is totally focused on the kids’ aspect. We have s’mores, we sing campfire songs and we share newcomer Canadian traditions and original people traditions,” said Kronen.
She said children love the action in the tales, but they are most excited to hear MENEŦIYE’s stories in her traditional language (which she tells again in English).
Don’t forget your flashlight.