[This post originally appeared on GirlScouts.org]
It’s finally here—weeks upon weeks of gorgeous weather, lazier mornings, maybe a part-time job, pool parties, and ideally, buckets of free time. Summer is a magical time of year, and it would be an absolute waste to just sleep through it, so we’ve put together the ultimate summer bucket list that will make these warm weather months even more memorable (and give every girl something incredible to tell her friends about when she goes back to class in the fall).
All of these summer ideas work for both independent older girls, who can take on most challenges on their own—and for younger girls who can try their hand at these activities with the help of a parent or other caring adult.
Ready for your best summer yet? Let’s go!
Create Something Beautiful
Take your Instagram to the next level with some artsy shots, create a cool collage from your favorite magazines, or even try your hand at painting. The way you see the world is unique and cool, so share that vision with the world!
Sleep Under the Stars
No campground or plans to go camping on the horizon? Set up a tent in your own back yard. No back yard? Cut out paper stars and hang them from your living room ceiling with string and tape, then invite your crew over for an indoors campout. And don’t forget the S’Mores—they’re delish whether they’re made over a roaring campfire or in the microwave!
Do Something Scary
Test your skills on a ropes course, audition for a play, or try learning a cool skateboarding trick. There’s no need to be perfect—or even good—at whatever it is, the point is to just put yourself out there, try something new, and walk away with a cool story to tell your friends.
Daydream Under a Tree
Sure, the A/C inside feels good, but so does a nice summer breeze under the shade of a big tree. Take your headphones off, put your phone away, and let the birds serenade you as you dream up even more fun plans for you and your crew.
Make a New Friend
Chances are, you already know almost everyone in your neighborhood, so introduce yourself to a girl from a different community—maybe a girl at camp, at the pool in the next town over, or even get to know a friend’s cousin when she visits from out of town. New perspectives and ideas will make your summer a lot more interesting.
Get Lost in a Book
You always hear that the book is better than the movie, and nine times out of ten that’s true—but when school’s in and there’s so much assigned reading, it’s hard to find time to read anything else! Not sure where to start? Head to your local library. The staff there know all the latest and coolest in young adult titles as well as children’s books. Tell them what kinds of things you typically like, and they’ll deliver some solid suggestions.
Take a Hike
Whether you’ve got a rustic trail nearby or are in the middle of the concrete jungle, lace up your sneakers and check out all the snap-worthy sights. Bonus points? Pack a lunch and find a bench or shady park to have a mini-picnic.
Make a Family Tree
All families look different, and half the fun of creating a family tree is discovering what shape yours will take! Start with you and your siblings if you have any, then branch out to your parents or caregivers and their brothers and sisters, then to their parents and caregivers, and on and on as far as you can go. Dive deep and add some personal details to your tree, like photos, fun facts, and favorite memories. You’ll get to spend some prime quality time with the people you love the most, and might uncover a surprising or funny story or two along the way.
Be a Hero
Standing up for something you believe in doesn’t just help change the world, it feels really awesome, too. Learn more about organizations that support the causes you believe in, then volunteer, join a rally, or call your local government and speak up for the issues that matter to you. This is your world, and you can change it.
Learn how to make one delicious meal—something that you love and that will totally impress your family and friends. Ask a relative to teach you their favorite recipe, hunt through cool cookbooks at the library, or just do a quick online search for simple and yummy ideas. Throw a bright table cloth on a picnic table at the park and dig in. Top Chef’s got nothing on you.
Send an Old-School Letter
Get yourself some cute stationary (or make your own) and write a letter to one of your besties or a relative you don’t get to see too often—then think of how psyched they’ll be to find your note in among the junk mail.
If you think volunteering is boring, you’re doing it wrong. To give back (and have an amazing time, too) think about the things you like doing most. Chances are, those skills and activities could be turned into a cool community service project. Love singing or acting? Put on a show at the senior center or to raise money for your favorite cause. Obsessed with cute cat videos online? Sign up to help at the local animal shelter. Coding’s your thing? Help a younger girl (or, heck, even one of your parents!) learn how to set up her own website. Basically, you’ve got skills for days and the world needs them now.
Master One “Magic” Trick
This one might seem silly, but trust us on this one—knowing how to pull off one good trick will add a bit of fun to parties and other random hangouts for the rest of your life! Go online and research one simple card trick or other fun illusion. Practice it over and over until you can do it seamlessly, then test it out on family and friends. Presto! You’re ready for the spotlight.
Put Together a Cool Vision Board
Grab a bunch of old magazines and cut out words and pictures that represent the types of things you want to do or have in your life in the future. Include anything that inspires you—whether it’s fireworks in the night sky, cool pictures of hiking trails you’d love to explore, an adorable kitty, or portraits of athletes you look up to—then use tape, rubber cement, or a glue stick to attach them in any order you like on a poster board or piece of construction paper. Hang it in your room to motivate you and remind you of all the fun your future holds.
Make a Splash
Head to the beach, the lake, or the local pool to show off your backstroke, or even just dash out to the front yard or the driveway for an impromptu water balloon fight. On a hot day, there’s not much that feels better or that’s more fun.
Explore the Farmer’s Market
Check out your local farmer’s market with a friend and pick out a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before. Don’t like it? There’s no need to have it again. Love it? As foodies would say, you’ve just widened your palate. Basically, the world is delicious. Get out there and take a bite!
Earn Some Cash
Although some of the best things in life are, in fact, free—other good things (like, say, ice cream and trips to the movies) cost money. Get down to business and make some cash of your own with a simple lemonade stand or bake sale, through babysitting or dog walking, by mowing lawns, or even teaching an elderly neighbor how to use her new tablet. You’re a natural entrepreneur!
Learn a Language
Set aside a couple hours each week and learn the basics of another language—either the one spoken in the part of the world you’d like to visit most, or one that you’re simply interested in, like American Sign Language. Check out free apps, online videos, and your local library for books and other resources. You’ll impress friends when you show off your new skills and will be able to communicate with so many more interesting and cool people throughout your life.
Check Out Some Live Music
You don’t have to have tickets to that sold-out stadium show to hear some awesome music this summer. Chances are, your town or one nearby will feature live bands during community barbeques, fireworks, and other local events. So head out, discover some cool new music, and maybe even get inspired to start your own band while you’re at it.
Keep a Journal
You’ll want to remember all the epic fun you’ll have this summer for the rest of your life— so jot down your memories, funniest moments, inside jokes, random thoughts, and most exciting adventures in a journal each night before you go to bed. If you’re on social, you might post some of this there, too, but there’s something really special about a journal that’s just for you that you can keep and cherish forever. Not so into handwriting things? Make a video or audio journal instead, or think about creating a visual scrapbook and fill it with ticket stubs and other mini-souvenirs of your summer.