My Culture/Summer

Get Outside!

One thing I have learned in all my years on this Earth is that summertime is truly a special time. It’s not only a special time for me, it’s a special time for anyone who wants it to be.

Summer is just around the corner. It’s so close you can taste it, so close you can smell it, and you probably want it to be here already! Maybe you’ve made plans for your summer and maybe those plans are to sleep in every day until noon, try to get that Fortnite win, scroll through Instagram all day, keep your Snap streak alive, pig out on junk food, or binge watch a new Netflix show. I’m sure Fortnite is fun (although not my cup of tea… yes I said it.) and Netflix is cool, but why waste your summer staring at a screen when there’s so much going on outside your door? Summer vacation is a great opportunity to venture outside and do things you aren’t able to do when you’re stuck in that school grind.

So without further ado, here are my top ten activities you can do this summer instead of staring at a screen:

1. Play Sand Volleyball

Every Monday evening during the summer, our youth group goes to a local park and plays volleyball until the sun goes down. Although we were not very good at the beginning of summer, we were all prosby the end. After we play, we go to In-N-Out to grub on some burgers. Grab your friends, go play, and invite your youth minister to join in on the fun!

2. Go on a Hike

God is awesome. Mountains and nature are awesome. God made the mountains and you can hike mountains so… hiking is awesome. Seriously though, go on a hike and see the Lord’s beauty and majesty! Download your favorite tunes, grab some water (please don’t die), and go conquer that mountain. You can even pray a rosary as you do it!

3. Go to that New Coffee Shop

I love Dutch Bros, I really do (SLP Rebels are life!) but there’s just something about a small, quiet, comfy coffee shop that brings so much joy to my heart. Maybe you’ve never been to a local coffee shop or have been dying to go to the one you drive by on your way to school. You can have a coffee date, catch up with a friend, read a book, open up Scripture, and/or taste a new coffee brewing method. SO. MUCH. JOY.

4. Find the Best Tacos in Town

God, in His wonderful majesty, created the person who came up with the idea of the “taco” and I will forever love Him for that. I like tacos, a lot. I can put them away with joy. Do yourself a favor and find the best tacos in your city! Don’t do it alone and instead, share this joy with someone you know. Once you find them, tell everyone about them —don’t be selfish and keep it to yourself! Let me know too so I can add it to my best tacos list too.

5. Cook for your Family and/or Friends

Why not use the summer as an opportunity to try out your cooking skills like Gordon Ramsey, only way nicer! Maybe your mom always cooks for you and you want to treat her for a change, or you want to learn how to make your go-to dish from your favorite restaurant restaurant. Either way, don’t let the kitchen scare you! Cooking can be super fun and relaxing. If you’re not sure how, reach out to someone you know who is, or find some easy recipes on Pinterest! I love to cook, especially when I’m cooking for others and, gentlemen listen up, ladies dig it when guys can cook. Just saying.

6. Go on a Picnic

Grab the basket from the garage, dust it off, stuff it with goodies, and head over to the park with your friends or loved ones! Don’t forget to bring a blanket to sit on — ant bites really suck.

7. Camp in your Backyard

You can always go to a campsite in the forest, but if you want to do it from the comfort of your home, go for it! You probably did it when you were a kid, so why not now?! Set up a tent in your backyard, get your sleeping bag, make a fire (S’MORES!), and maybe add a little bit of praise and worship to the mix. Evening well spent!

8. Go Swimming

As much as I love summer, I also hate it because I melt (I live in the valley of the sun, Arizona). How do I not melt when it’s 120 degrees outside? I find water and throw myself in it! Head over to the local pool, lake, or even your own backyard (make sure you have a pool though — a cannonball on your lawn can hurt) and cool off! I wonder if Jesus ever went swimming…

9. Read Under a Tree

Need some introvert time? I do! Often, actually. Grab that book you have been trying to finish or even a new book you want to start and go outside. Find a tree that offers great shade and get lost in your story! If you have never done it, do it — it will change your life! I love to read anything by JRR Tolkien and some of my best memories of reading are from sitting under a tree outside.

10. Visit Jesus

Our Lord has been with you throughout the entire school year and He will be there all summer, too. Go visit Him in Adoration and talk to the best friend you will ever know! Here’s a fun idea: grab a friend and try to visit as many adoration chapels around your diocese as you can! Not only will you see many beautiful churches and chapels, you will see that the Lord never changes. Beautiful.

*Extra* Document your Summer

I know this is a list of things to do instead of looking at your phone, but let’s be real, you’re going to be on social media and that’s OK! Use social media to document your summer and share and all of the great memories. Use the hashtag #LTGetOutside. Post a picture your picnic — do it for the gram! Snap your favorite taco and keep your streak alive. Make a collage of all of your summer activities, but don’t live through a lens (unless you wear glasses like me). Experience it IRL yourself and then share your joy with others!

Summer can be as special as you want it to be! Afterall, our Lord wants us to live life to the fullest. Don’t waste it looking down at a screen, but rather, look up and see everything God created for you. I’m praying for your summer plans — please pray for me, too. I hope you have the best summer yet!

About the Author

Ivan Garcia

I was born in Long Beach, CA but grew up in Phoenix, AZ. I’m a cradle Catholic but didn’t start getting into my faith until after high school. I served with NET ministries ’11-’12, traveling across the USA putting on retreats for middle and high school teens. Through NET, I felt God’s call to full-time youth ministry. Several years later, I’m still in the trenches. I’m an avid reader and movie-watcher, and a huge advocate for Vitamin T (Tacos, Tamales, and Tortas). I’m happiest when I combine hobbies, Tolkien, and tacos.

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