Try these fun summer activities tweaked for social distancing.

It’s summertime and the living is … lonely. Many parents who had been trying to wait out the pandemic in isolation are now looking for ways to adapt summer activities to allow for some important socialization, without creating too much risk. 

It can be tricky to think up kid-friendly activities that fit the bill yet still feel exciting, especially for higher-energy children, so we’ve done the work for you. Here are five summer favorites, adapted to be fully fun yet social-distancing-friendly, and in line with CDC recommendations as of late June.

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INSTEAD OF: TAG
TRY: SUPER SOAKERS
Want the thrill of the chase without getting too close? Fill up a Super Soaker for each child; they generally spray water much farther than 6 feet. There’s no sharing of equipment and no touching, but plenty of summer fun. For younger kids who may need more training or incentive to stay apart, add a game penalty for getting too close, such as having to sit out for 30 seconds.

INSTEAD OF: POOLS AND SLIP AND SLIDES
TRY: WACKY SPRINKLERS
According to recent research, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from contact on surfaces or water is low. Still, parents who want to avoid shared surfaces like kiddie pools or slip and slides can opt for sprinklers. A standard yard sprinkler will work, but wacky sprinklers designed for kids that spray in every direction can be a great no-touch alternative if your pool or splash pad is closed for the summer. Bonus: Unlike kiddie pools, most retailers still have sprinklers in stock. 

INSTEAD OF: DAY CAMP
TRY: POD CAMP
If camp is closed and your household has united with family or neighbors into a small quarantine pod, the adults can take turns leading the group by bike or on foot to the closest park or green space for some socially distanced camp-themed fun. (If you’re still isolating, you can do this as a family instead.) Climb a tree, race around the park, do a natural scavenger hunt, chalk the block, and sing songs together. Individually wrapped snacks and crafts can extend the camp fun even longer. For overnight adventure, pitch your family’s tent in the backyard and sleep under the stars for a fun staycation.

INSTEAD OF: MOVIE THEATERS
TRY: DRIVE-IN MOVIES
Kids summer movie series may not be happening this year, but you can scratch the cinematic itch with a number of distance-friendly, no-contact, drive-in movie options (both permanent, like Columbus’ South Drive-In Theatre and Lancaster’s Skyview Drive-In, and pop-up, such as those offered by Dublin, Grove City and other municipalities). Check with the facility for rules on packing your own food, restrooms, etc. (Younger children can bring a travel potty or Pull-Up for emergencies.)

INSTEAD OF: SLEEPOVERS
TRY: VIRTUAL SLEEPOVERS
Since packing kids together for a slumber party isn’t in the cards right now, try a virtual sleepover with a friend of two. Here’s how it works: If the children live close or are in a pod, they can begin their hangout with some socially distanced activities outside. As evening sets in, the kids retreat to their respective homes and continue the fun over Messenger Kids or FaceTime, with a grown-up’s permission.

My daughter and her friends like to play games, read stories to each other, hold fashion or talent shows, and video chat before settling into their beds or sleeping bags and saying their goodnights. They set a time to call one another in the morning, where they share a bit more hangout time over or after breakfast. It’s not quite the same as the real thing, but it has been a wonderful option for our daughter to spend quality time with friends during the Covid age.Bonus: No one cries and asks to go home in the middle of the night.

This story is from the Summer 2020 issue of Columbus Parent.