How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Note: “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” is a an assignment we all remember and most of us dreaded every September. By “beginning with the end in mind”, completing this exercise in June is about creating the summer you WANT to have, one filled with happy memories.

This is a slightly edited version of my original newsletter from May 2002. I’m still brainstorming my 2015 list (And yes, I did all but one of the items on the list during that summer of 2002!)


How I Spent My Summer Vacation

What does the start of summer feel like to you? To me, it feels a little exciting and full of possibilities for fun and relaxation. I know this is a carryover from childhood when summer meant freedom from the drudgery of school and when the only goal for every day was to have fun.

So how are you planning to spend your 12 weeks and weekends of summer? I’m not talking just about the big family vacation that you may take every year. I mean the little stuff, the ideas and activities to help you relax and enjoy the fleeting days of summer.

My suggestion is to start with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey suggests in: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Pretend that it’s September and someone is asking you how you spent your summer. What would you want it to include? What do you not want to do this year, no matter how much of an annual tradition it is?

Create a list of at least 12 ideas, one for each week of the summer. You don’t have to do all of them, but at least try something new each week. My own list includes ideas that fit one or more of the following criteria: low cost, low tech, low effort factor, indoors, outdoors, will teach me something new, or will make me feel a little silly, but in a fun way.

Here are some of mine:

  • Eat an Italian ice from an ice cream truck
  • Read a bunch of Archies comics some afternoon (instant nostalgia!)
  • Put together a puzzle
  • Go miniature golfing
  • Go to the beach and make a sand castle
  • Look at the clouds and try to find animal shapes
  • Ride my bike the length of the Minuteman Bike path
  • Visit the Mohawk Trail in western Massachusetts and get a dose of history and nature.
  • Look at the summer stars through the Merrimack College Observatory’s telescope


Here are a few suggestions for creating your list of summer pastimes:

  • Think about what triggers your happiest memories of summers past: Here are some of mine: The smell of suntan lotion and backyard barbecues…Hearing the sound of a baseball game on the radio…Seeing fireworks on the 4th of July…Eating cotton candy…Feeling sand under my feet at the beach.
  • Balance the list with a variety of ideas. Not every weekend has to be filled with constant activity. Include low-effort ideas for those days when it’s too hot to think, let alone move.
  • Print your list on colored paper. Post it on your refrigerator. Without reminders, life has a way of causing us to forget even our best-intended plans. Don’t skip this step!
  • Share your list with a spouse, buddy or partner. Find someone who’ll help you follow through on your quest for a memorable summer.
  • Rearrange your schedule. Take care of the domestic realities like housework during the week and keep your weekends free for fun.
  • Borrow a child if you don’t have one of your own. Kids instinctively know how to enjoy themselves; let them be your guide to fun for an entire day, or even a couple of hours.

Finally, one of the benefits of being a grown-up is that you’re in charge of how you spend your free time. You can create your vision of summer fun and no one is going tell you to come in when the street lights come on…or make you go to bed when it’s still light outside.

Have a memorable and fun summer!