Live a Little, Learn a Little and Give Back a LittleAfter a long, cold winter, there’s nothing my family enjoys more than the arrival of summer. Sandy feet, sticky strawberry fingers and squeals of joy are what summer is all about. Here in New England we are particularly lucky to live so close to the ocean and to have access to the types of activities that make summer a season in which to create family memories. I often struggle with summer—or really the summer “brain drain.” Especially when all the kids want to do is have fun! But what’s a little social justice between friends? Know what I mean?

As an interfaith family, we want our kids to know the meaning of tikkun olam (repairing the world). Working to repair the world and give back to the community is important to us. Summertime is a great time to help the people who need help the most. It’s a time when many families who rely on school lunch to feed their children must work an extra shift for money the family needs for everyday basic needs. In the Greater Boston area, there are places that could use your help. One great place where families can volunteer together is Family Table, New England’s largest kosher food pantry, which invites families with young children to volunteer and learn why it’s important to give back. With distribution in Waltham and Marblehead, it’s easy for my family to participate and help our community.

You can also do “kitchen table” service projects with websites such as Big-Hearted Families to incorporate giving back into your summer routine. My kids have fun giving back and learn a little in the process!

But don’t worry! I didn’t forget the typical summertime fun. Here are some of my family’s favorite local activities:

Salisbury Beach State Reservation
Salisbury Beach is one of the commonwealth’s most popular ocean beaches, stretching 3.8 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. This 521-acre park offers swimming, boating, fishing and camping. Facilities include a large campground with renovated bathhouses, an extensive day-use parking lot, three comfort stations, boardwalks over the dunes and a new playground and pavilion area. There’s a beautiful view and a lovely sandy beach for great castle building.

Russell Orchards
Founded in 1920, Russell Orchards is a 120-acre farm in Ipswich. It’s particularly great for fruit picking from June to October, plus the kids love to feed the farm animals and we love the great farm store (and the cider donuts!). It’s conveniently located both on the way to and from Crane Beach.

Revere Beach National Sand Sculpting Festival
The 2014 festival runs from July 18-20, and you and your family will be amazed by what can be sculpted in sand. Located on Revere Beach, the children’s sand sculpting lessons are a family favorite.

The Boston Common Frog Pond
There’s a summer spray pool and children’s carousel, located just an MBTA ride away for most of us (and who doesn’t like a train ride?). There are always fun and exciting activities for both residents and tourists.

Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell
For kids with later bedtimes, bring a picnic and blankets and enjoy movies all summer long on the Esplanade.

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