Remember when summer vacations seemed to last forever?
They still do if you’re the entertainment director for a young whippersnapper or two. On one hand, they would be perfectly content to sleep till the vicinity of noon, eat a bag of Cheetos for breakfast and then spend the remainder of the day staring at their phones or playing video games.
On the other hand, a summer agenda like that might sabotage your chances for Parent of the Year honors and down the road someday when you’re nominated to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court, that could come back to haunt you.
Give the kids some credit: They probably didn’t get bored until the third or fourth day of summer vacation. But now the rest of the summer looms like a yawning (literally) chasm of unrelenting ennui. Your kids have probably used that exact phrase, in fact.
What’s the solution?
In a moment, the fun for children of all ages begins. But let’s pause first for an over-the-counter level dose of reality: Summer can’t be all about fun. There must be some deliberately unfun engagements on everyone’s social calendar, whether age 8 or 80.
And speaking of calendars, recurring events mean you won’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel. For example, let’s say you’ve penciled in taking the kids for a round of Putt-Putt each and every Thursday afternoon of summer vacation. Great idea! Putt-Putt is a splendid place to have some fun. But let’s make that fun the weekly reward for something unfun. Maybe every Thursday morning is reserved for doing some yard work or other household chore. υ
Probably more than ever before, kids need to learn the value of having a work ethic. When they grow up to be ditch diggers or CEOs, they’ll appreciate learning the valuable maxim that work comes first, play second.
End of sermon.
So what are some of the zillions of summer fun options (we’re focusing mainly on June and July) in Columbia County alone? Trust us when we say, you will not need to cross state lines—or even leave the county—to incite fun.
You will not believe how many of the events originate from a single place: the public library. It’s amazing! And some of them even include actual books.
How’s this for starters: All three Columbia County libraries—Evans, Harlem and Grovetown (a.k.a. Euchee Creek)—offer archery classes! For kids! With real arrows! It’s a program offered for ages 8 and up in conjunction with 4-H and UGA.
For kids ages 11 to 18 who aspire to being the next teen idol, the libraries also offer beginner guitar classes. You don’t even have to own a guitar. The library has half a dozen of its own to lend, so don’t fret. (They have to stay at the library, however.) They even have recording studio capabilities.
Another very nifty summer library program is called Maker Space. Basically, the library offers space—and tools—for makers. What kind of tools? CAD software, a 3D printer and a 3D scanner, coding and development software, and the kind of nuts and bolts tools that aren’t usually used on nuts and bolts, like soldering irons and specialized electronics tools. Sounds like these makers will be creating some high-tech gear. The main program is for techie teens, but there’s also a Young Makers program that teaches science, engineering and design for the 8 to 12 crowd.
The “Adult Time-Out” might be just the ticket for you.
There’s tons more, like young adult craft nights and game nights, movie matinees and movie nights for children and families, reptile shows designed for kids, therapy dog events and performances by a magician and ventriloquist plus a North Georgia fiddler and storyteller.
If you’re thinking the library offers programs solely for young people, think again. In fact, think both literary and fiscal literacy. The library offers a slew of book clubs for adults. Some of them center around discussions of published books, others offer support for aspiring authors and the Great American Novel they’re working on—or hope to start. They don’t all meet at the library either. The Pub Fiction Book Club, for example, meets at Pizza Central in Evans to discuss literature with a side of pepperoni—and possibly a brewski or two.
When it comes to financial literacy, the libraries have you covered there as well, from the simple to the complex. Among the scheduled events and classes are “Understanding Life Insurance Options,” “Money Management” and “Long Term Care and Estate Planning.” Those might not be topics that really get your heart pumping, but they’re still important. Ditto for “Senior Studies 101 Lunch & Learn,” dishing out a different topic of interest to older adults each month.
Taking money management to a simpler level, another free class is “Keep Calm & Coupon On.” We all have to eat, right? Saving money doing it makes food taste better.
Libraries are repositories for veritable treasuries of information, which makes them the perfect place to offer instruction on genealogical research. If you’re researching your family tree—or would like to find out how—the library has a calendar event for you.
Then again, sometimes you want to just kick back and relax, maybe play a game of chess. They have a chess club. Or maybe do even less. The “Adult Time-Out” might be just the ticket for you. Just don’t tell your kids. They might put you in it. And there’s always the soothing and relaxing Doodle Hour. Adults, bring your coloring books and release your inner child, at least for one hour. Just remember: Try to stay inside the lines.
Finally, don’t forget: You can actually check out a book from the library too. (The direct source for more information on all these and still other events: gchrl.org. Click on “Events” on the right side of the blue bar to see a calendar, then click on Evans, Euchee Creek, Harlem, etc., for the events at your library of choice.)
But let’s say you want to get out in the great outdoors. You have a plethora of options there too.
Columbia County is a hotbed of worthy recreation options to make even the hottest summer cool.
Let us not forget that we have a massive playground in our own backyard named Clarks Hill Lake that offers boating, sailing, water skiing, swimming, fishing, camping and sunset-watching, among other options.
Closer to home but still on the water, many a pleasant hour awaits canoeists and kayakers plying the waters of the Augusta Canal. And if water-adjacent is more your thing, walking, jogging and biking alongside the canal on the towpath is another great way to get some exercise and commune with nature at the same time. As an added bonus, you’re side-by-side with the mighty Savannah River and the Augusta Canal. No wonder it’s a National Heritage Area. And not owning a bike, canoe or kayak is no problem: They’re all available for rent at the canal headgates.
Staying on the wild side, have you heard about the new Columbia County golf course? Picture the aforementioned Putt-Putt after a decade of neglect and you’ve got the idea, or maybe the exact opposite of the Augusta National Golf Club. Constructed on 50 wooded acres next to Canterbury Stables off Wrightsboro Road in Grovetown, Canterbury Golf and Equine Trail is best described as “nature trail golf.” The nine hole Par 3 course is like a disc golf course, but for golfers. Keep in mind too, there is a sterling disc golf course at Wildwood Park on the shores of Clarks Hill Lake.
Naturally, there are dozens of National-esque traditional little-white-ball-type golf courses sprinkled around the countryside within the friendly confines of Columbia County, some private, others public. We would be remiss if we failed to mention Adventure Crossing, which sports a nifty miniature golf course, plus batting cages, go-carts, a video game arcade and a circus-style carousel. It’s a fun place.
It will host the annual Summer Beach Blast concert on June 3, the same weekend the Southeastern Outdoors Expo happens at the Columbia County Exhibition Center.
Obviously, Columbia County is a hotbed of worthy recreational and educational options to make even the hottest summer cool. And we’re not even done yet. Here are 10 more ideas for summer fun: porch swings, squirt guns, water balloons, running through the sprinkler, lemonade stands, playing horseshoes in the back yard, catching lightning bugs, bonfires and s’mores, riding your bike through the neighborhood and making homemade ice cream.
Daniel Pearson is a Columbia County-based writer and publisher and a long-time contributor to AugustaMagazine.
This article appears in the June-July 2016 issue of Augusta Magazine.