Summer's Here!

by Shawn Benson-Wake, Prevention Resource Specialist

As summer quickly approaches, children will be needing summer activities and parents will be seeking energy outlets and learning experiences each day to prevent boredom and unnecessary chaos.  Children thrive on structured activities and new experiences.

Making Memories

My five-year-old grandson vividly remembers the treasure hunt we had last year.  Ironically, he was grounded from his bicycle, so I planned an activity that excluded his bike but offered him an outlet for his energy.  His energy, most of the time, is twice that of mine.  We went for a walk instead.  While walking, I asked him to locate specific items such as flags, flowers, colored leaves, and different types of insects.  I had him photograph the items on my cell phone.  This activity generated many questions and learning experiences while creating quality time together and meaningful memories.  This is just an introduction to the many things that you can do with your children that are inexpensive, valuable, energy outlets, and create quality time with your children. 

Have a Picnic

Children typically love the outdoors especially during the summer months.  Packing a picnic lunch and going to a public park is a great way to spend the day.  Make fun foods for the kids such as ants on a log (peanut butter and raisins on a celery stick), smiley face sandwiches, and other kid recipes.  A few great resources for these are:

Make the day more eventful by having the children decorate their lunch bags!  Some parks even have water spouts for children of all ages to cool off in. 


Local libraries are a great way to spend some quiet time.  Public Library cards are free to county residents.  Polk, Highlands and Hardee County Libraries offer a number of free summer programs including live performances, story times, and creative activities (check each library's individual webpage to see what's going on in your branch!).  

For those of you who are not close to a public library in Polk County, the Bookmobile is another great option.  The Book Mobile offers great selections of books for people of all ages, movies, and computers for research, CDs, and more! 

For more information on The Polk County Public Libraries and the Book Mobile, visit Highlands County Library events and information can be located at and Hardee County Library events and information can be found at

Free Summer Movies

Movie lovers will enjoy the free movies during the summer at Cobb Theaters!  Children and their accompanying parents/caregivers are admitted free Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays for the 10am (only) showing of the scheduled movie.  Visit for the weekly movie schedule.  Concessions are open; prices not discounted.

Craft Ideas

Exciting craft projects for children can be found at,, and  You will find an array of indoor and outdoor activities galore!  Plan an activity for each day of the week such as rock painting, t-shirt decorating, and making bubbles.  Working parents/caregivers can plan activities for babysitters or share ideas with your child’s day care center. 


Local YMCAs and recreation centers throughout Polk, Hardee and Highlands County have a wealth of summer programs for a nominal fee; don’t forget to inquire about scholarship programs if you think you may qualify. 


The Citrus Connection in Polk County is a great resource for Polk County residents if you are without transportation to get to these great summer destinations!  Visit for bus routes and schedules or call 1-855-POLKBUS (765-5287). 

Limited public transportation is also available in Hardee and Highlands County

Enjoy This Time!

Have a safe and fun-filled summer with your children.  Enjoy the energy and enthusiasm your children bring to you and your family.  Most importantly, remember that being a parent/caregiver/grandparent is the toughest job you’ll ever love!