Summer 2020 – Reimagined

The 2019-2020 school year is winding down, and we’re all looking ahead to a well-deserved summer break. For many, this summer will look a little different than what we had originally planned. Over the last few months we have been asked to adjust to new routines and make changes to how we do things in order to respect physical distancing guidelines and to keep our families and community safe. 

At times, these changes have created some frustration and disappointment. Travelling abroad, spending a month at summer camp, celebrating milestones, or lifeguarding at the local pool may no longer be possible, but there are still so many ways to enjoy the summer season. Spend a little time grieving what might not be possible this year, and then with an open mind and a little creativity, map out a summer that might just be the best yet! Personally, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my holiday plans need to be revised, but after a little research, I’ve found a number of activities I can do, many of which I might never have explored during “normal” times. 

Enjoy your summer by spending time outdoors

Go on a virtual museum tour

Do some virtual gallery-hopping using the wonders of the internet! Options’ writing coach Marisa wrote about this very topic. I’ve been enjoying the British Museum’s educational YouTube channel, learning about everything from the Sutton Hoo archaeological dig, to Greek pots, to traditional Chinese hanging scrolls. 

Foster a pet

Spend some time caring for a cute furry friend. Check out fostering opportunities at the BC SPCAVOKRA, and Cross Our Paws Rescue. If you’re looking for a more involved commitment, consider raising a puppy that will become a service dog for veterans suffering from PTSD, people with autism, and people with physical disabilities.

Indulge your curiosity in the kitchen

Take online cooking classes from Udemy, Masterclass, or ChefSteps, get inspiration from some great food writing, work your way through a cookbook, cover to cover (one of my favourites is the Barefoot Contessa series), and document your results.  

…and then share your skills!

Host weekly themed dinners with your family or make a plan to have dinner (online) with extended family and friends. 

Journey into the outdoors

In BC, we’re so lucky to be surrounded by beautiful scenery. Enjoy a socially distanced hangout in the park, hike up to a fabulous view, or cycle through Stanley Park. 

Get gardening

Spend the summer gardening

Whether it’s a community garden, a container garden on a balcony, or a garden in a big yard, gardening can be a great project. It gives you an excuse to be outside and provides surprising mental health benefits. And while many have said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed their relationship to time—what day is it anyway?—gardening will give new meaning to the days, weeks, and months.  

As Olivia Laing writes, “Outside, it’s possible to forget the frightening news for an hour or two. A garden is rooted in time, but it’s always also about now. Right now: the bee; right now: the wallflowers flaming into bloom.”

Start a summer film club

If you have a projector (and a large white sheet), you can host a backyard movie night. Or pick a few movies and make a plan to discuss them online with friends. Check out these lists for some inspiration: the best movies on Netflix right now, Roger Ebert’s great movies picks, and the 100 greatest films of all time. 

Organize a book club

Start a book club with your immediate family or get some friends involved. Just like the film club, it’s best to choose a book and then pick a date on which to meet, so everyone can stay on schedule. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Fundraise for a good cause

Do some good this summer by raising money for causes you care about, whether that is animal welfare, social justice, environmental sustainability, or the fight against certain diseases. Inspire your friends and family and make connections in the larger community. Best of all, make the most of your unique skills: public speaking, illustration, filmmaking, social media expertise, etc. 

Teach yourself a new subject 

Learn how to play the guitar, speak Mandarin, juggle, or change a tire. Read up on quantum physics or take up sewing. Use the summer to pursue your curiosity and discover new interests. 

Whatever you do, use the summer to grow

Post-secondary supplemental applications often ask you to reflect upon a time when you overcame an obstacle or challenge. This is that time. Use the summer months to focus on what you can do, not what is no longer available. Make your own summer list and challenge yourself to work through as many of the opportunities as possible. You might find that you can have both a wonderful summer and some really great material for your university supplements.