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School Aged Children

by Lisa Arthur

ALAS…it is July! Perhaps your family vacation is already filed in the “Summer 2009 Memory Box,” swim team is coming to an end, and Vacation Bible School has come and gone. It is usually about this time that we start hearing those famous summer words, “I’m bored!” What is available to keep our boys from becoming couch potatoes while their friends are away at camp or still out of town? Actually, living in the Fredericksburg area provides many opportunities that do not require a lot of time or money.

Here are some fun filled ideas to keep the boys active this summer. Washington D.C., Richmond, and Williamsburg are less than a tank of gas away. Already viewed the monuments and want to try something different? Drive and park at the Springfield Stations and take a metro ride to Washington D.C. to treat the kids to lunch at the Hard Rock Café. If you sons are music fans they will enjoy the memorabilia decorating the walls. Many local grocery stores and fast food restaurants are offering discounted tickets to Kings Dominion, Six Flags, and Busch Gardens. Military families can purchase discounted tickets at their place of employment, and some discounted tickets are available for active duty families and/or reservist through these parks directly. Go to the websites for more information. Gas prices may keep some of these traditional, summer outings out of the family budget this summer, but do not despair; there are many activities right in our local area providing ample opportunity for quality family time on a tight budget.

Try taking in one of the local Civil War battlefields. The four battlefields in the area, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania offer not only a taste of the rich history in our area, but an opportunity to spend some quality time outdoors. Pack a lunch and a blanket-- the trees provide a beautiful, cool setting for a picnic.

There are also some great fishing and hiking areas tucked away in our area. A family favorite is Mott’s Run. Located just off River Road, Mott’s Run can fill your day with outdoor activities. Take a hike on one of the many nature trails and view the wildlife in our backyard; spend some time fishing off one of the docks, rent a boat and take a ride around the reservoir; or visit the nature center. If Linda Bailey is present, you may even get to touch a live snake and hear some exciting wildlife stories. If you are looking to spend a couple of days out in the wilderness, visit one of the campgrounds in the area: Westmoreland State Park and Prince William Forest are some of our favorites. Each offers a unique experience at a minimal cost.

Not the outdoor, wilderness type? How about visiting a local museum? The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA is a hit with kids and adults. There are plenty of interactive activities, as well as the opportunity to learn the history and sacrifices of the Marine Corps. Looking for something closer to home? Try the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center in downtown Fredericksburg. While you are there, take a stroll downtown and visit many of the unique shops and have lunch with the family at one of the many local restaurants. Interested in the Civil War? Visit the White Oak Civil War Museum on White Oak Road, owned and operated by a local family.

So there IS a cure for those Summertime Blues…we just need to be a little creative and willing to try something new. With just a little planning, it is easy to discover fun family activities, at minimal to no cost, right here in our own Fredericksburg backyard. As our family likes to say, “It doesn’t matter what we do, so long as we do it together.”

By Lisa Arthur, mother of twin boys age 10, and a daughter age 8. Wife of an Active Duty US Air Force officer.

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