Prefer to revel in the A/C rather than suffering in the sunshine? I get it. When temperatures tease the hundreds, that summer sun can be unbearable and not everyone likes hiking around in the heat or splashing in a swimming pool. Staying home watching cartoons or reading books are very appealing activities for the first few days (okay, weeks) of summer vacation. So how can you keep your Girl Scouts’ minds active on those summer days when they just don’t want to be outside? Here are 10 indoor activity ideas to help you get started:
1. Get ahead with summer badge work!
No need to pause the Girl Scout experience until fall. Approach every potential activity with a Girl Scout mindset and you’re bound to find a way to earn a badge. Take a look through the Badge Explorer and you’ll find many badges for all age levels that can be earned while indoors. Here are a few suggestions:
- With the Home Scientist badge, Brownies open their eyes to the everyday science that happens all around them. Make something bubble up, create static electricity, and be a kitchen chemist!
- Is your Junior musically inclined? She can earn the Musician badge while exploring how music is made and making her own mix of sounds. So dust off that guitar in your garage and help her brush up on chord progressions!
- Cadettes can delve into the world of comics with the Comic Artist badge and learn how to tell a story visually with “sequential art”. Pay a visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum (the artist who created the Peanuts) where she can create her own comic strip.
- For Seniors and Ambassadors, the Novelist badge is a creative way to hone the necessary writing and editing skills needed for college. Girls can also earn this badge while participating in Camp Nano, two month-long organized summer writing “camps” in April and July run by the same awesome Bay Area folks who started the National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program.
2. Beat the heat with indoor ice-skating
Indoor ice rinks make ice-skating available year-round, and are located in most major cities. Remember to bring gloves so you don’t get frostbite in July! You can skate on the same ice as the San Jose NHL team at Shark’s Ice, and Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center in San Francisco offers both ice skating and bowling (it’s in the title!), so you can spend a whole day there having fun with a group.
3. Rock the roller rink
Bundling up to skate on freezing ice not quite your scene? You can still stay cool at a roller rink! Your girls will love cruising around to funky jams with their friends. Roller rinks may have been fading from popularity when I was a kid, but that didn’t stop me from having a pair of skates with chunky neon pink wheels. Locations aren’t as prevalent, but you can still find one within a reasonable driving distance.
4. Strike it up at the bowling alley
Rent a lane, grab some snacks, pick a ball, and aim for those pins! Bowling works well for all groups, big or small, depending on how many games you want to play. And while getting a strike is exhilarating, I always find the most fun comes from the jokes and friendly commentary of friends.
5. Plan a movie night
Your Girl Scouts may be off doing their own thing during the summer, but they’ll probably love to pull together for a movie night and/or slumber party. Have everyone pitch in to bring snacks, party games, extra blankets, and DVDs. If they can’t decide on which film to watch, have parents narrow the list of age-appropriate movies, have the girls write their desired movie title on a slip of paper, toss them all into a hat, and draw a random winner.
6. Lend a hand at your local library
Have you visited your local library this summer yet? If not, you should! Libraries often have volunteer programs where kids can help with tasks like sorting and re-shelving books or prepping for events while earning volunteer hours. In middle school and high school, I loved volunteering at my local library. My favorite task was re-alphabetizing the kids’ fiction shelves, because I got to discover more books to add to my reading list. Libraries also run summer reading challenges for kids of all ages, oftentimes with literary themed prizes like bookmarks and free books. Talk to your librarian to see if they’re hosting any author signings or storytelling gatherings. And don’t forget to take a look at the community bulletin boards to learn what other events that might be happening in your area.
7. Learn a new skill
Craft stores like Michael’s and JOANN stores often host crafting workshops just for kids throughout the summer where they can learn useful skills, like sewing, basic woodworking, and painting. If you’re new to a neighborhood, these workshops are also a great way to meet other like-minded parents (and maybe potential Girl Scouts for your troop!).
8. Meander through museums
Victorian era tea? The science of making? Pinball machines? Snakes and slithering things? There’s a museum for everything! They can range in size from privately maintained single-room displays to giant multi-story buildings with exhibits you could spend a whole day exploring. Many museums offer group discounts, if you’re taking your whole troop or going with several families, and free or discounted museum days once a month. Some credit card companies also offer free museum days, so check with your bank to see if they have any deals or offers with local museums. Browse online to see what kinds of museums you have in your local area, or take a field trip to one of our Bay Area partners. Be sure to check their calendars, too, since summer programming and workshops offer prime opportunities for bonding and badge work.
- Located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge on 7.5 acres of National Park land in Sausalito, the Bay Area Discovery Museum is great for Daisies – but Brownie and Juniors love it too! The museum features seven exhibition spaces and more than six daily drop-in programs for children 6 months of age to 10 years, as well as art labs, an underwater tunnel, simulations of Fisherman’s Wharf and the Port of Oakland, an Imagination Playground, and the Fab Lab, a maker space for kids that might just make adults jealous.
- Visit San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences—an aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof. Keep Cal Academy in mind for fall activities, too, when you can experience your own night at the museum at a Penguins+Pajamas sleepover! Note: Use the special GSNorCal Member ticketing site to obtain discounted tickets on Academy general admission, Penguins+Pajamas, sleepover events, tours, and NightLife events. You will need to set up an account using the GSNorCal unique sales promo code GirlScoutsNorCal. GSNorCal also gets a kick-back on all sales using this code.
- The Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa is offering summer classes from June 5 – August 11, 2017. Get creative this summer while you learn from professional artists and cartoonists to make your own LEGO animation and iPad movies, and explore science, art and cartooning. There’s even an ice skating rink! Classes are available for kids in preschool through high school. Enroll online or by calling (707) 284-1272.
- The Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco is an innovative art and technology experience for kids ages 2-12. If your younger Girl Scouts have kid siblings, this is a great choice so the whole family can come along. It’s an easy walk from BART or CalTrain, so you can make it the main event or one of your stops on a trip to The City. Watch for new Guide programs for Girl Scouts this fall!
- Get hands-on with science at the Exploratorium on Pier 15 in San Francisco. Step inside a tornado, turn upside down in a curved mirror, walk on a fog bridge, and explore more than 650 hands-on exhibits. I highly recommend getting a ticket to the Tactile Dome, where you will use only your sense of touch to navigate the dome’s pitch-black chambers and mazes. You have to pay a little extra for tickets to the Tactile Dome (and you need to buy them early in the day before they sell out), but the experience is worth it!
- The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose is a family-friendly interactive science and technology center. While you’re here, learn about the latest innovations and technological discoveries in the museum galleries or see a film in the Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater. The Tech also runs skill-building Girl Scout badge programs for Daisies (“Robo-Designers”), Brownies (“Home Scientist”), Juniors (“Tech Detective” and “Amusement Innovator”), Cadettes (“Special Agent”), and Seniors (“Change Makers”), so you can sign up your troop now for workshops in the fall.
- Redding is home to Turtle Bay Exploration Park, a non-profit 300-acre gathering place featuring a Sundial Bridge, a museum, forestry & wildlife center, arboretum, and botanical gardens. At the gateway to the Sacramento River Trails, Turtle Bay celebrates far Northern California as part of the world we share. The current exhibition Mythic Creatures: Dragons, Unicorns & Mermaids traces the natural and cultural roots of some of the world’s most enduring mythological creatures from Asia, Europe, the Americas, and beyond.
- The East Bay Vivarium in Berkeley isn’t a museum, but it is the nation’s largest and oldest retail herpetological store, housing a wide selection of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids. The Vivarium, open since 1970, supplies zoos, educational institutions, and classrooms as well as individuals and families with snakes, lizards, tortoises, turtles, frogs, toads, salamanders, tarantulas, and scorpions. If your girl is like my little sister, and finds things that slither and creep fascinating, it definitely warrants a visit!
- Find even more Bay Area museums on this list from Bay Area Kid Fun!
9. Care for your community
Encourage caring and leadership in your girl by helping around your community. There are numerous opportunities to volunteer year-round, but the summertime gives you more flexibility to participate during weekday and daytime activities. Brainstorm together about what you can do to make your corner of the world a better place. Here’s a list of indoor community service ideas to get you started:
- Help out at a local animal shelter or cat café
- Read stories to the elderly at a nursing home
- Collect toiletries and donate to a women’s shelter
- Cook a meal for a sick neighbor
- Serve a meal at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter
10. Embrace quiet time
From fall to spring, the school year is full of afterschool clubs, sports, Girl Scout meetings, and homework, and it’s easy to carry that same sense of busyness over into the summer. Before the new school year starts, try kicking back a little, if you can, with some low key activities your girl can do by herself or with a few friends at home. You’ll both benefit from the down time, and if she’s an introvert (or just an avid bookworm), she’ll appreciate that you made space in the summer schedule for her to finish that twenty-five volume animal clan book series all her friends have been reading. For younger girls, pull out leftover school supplies and have a crafting party, or make your own play dough. Tap into your girl’s creativity and bond over memories with side-by-side activities like scrapbooking or writing a book together.
More indoor activities are just a quick internet search away. Just type “Your city + activity” in your search engine bar and hit the ‘Enter’ key. Stay cool and enjoy the rest of your summer!
Ash Redfield—Ash is the Digital Marketing and Social Media Coordinator for Girl Scouts of Northern California, where they’re constantly planning, creating, and managing awesome content for social media. After graduating from Mills College (a women’s college in Oakland), Ash joined the Girl Scout movement where they love being part of a team that helps girls unlock their potential and continuing that legacy of women’s leadership. They have spent much of their life exploring Northern California, especially the Bay Area, so when not behind a blue-lit screen, you’ll probably find them hiking through a local park or at a café planning their next road trip.