Weekend Activities for the Kiddos
Weekends are precious for our kids. Without school and, often with parents home, weekends offer a perfect opportunity to help military kids forge a connection to their current home. Exploring available weekend activities for kids helps them see the opportunities their current duty station offers.
Weekends may not be the best choice for a trip to the big parks like Disney or Universal, but more local attractions also offer military specials perfect for a weekend or day trip. For example, Schlitterbahn Water Park & Resort has locations within driving distance of most Texas installations and offers both discounted military tickets and special days with free active duty admission. Check in with your installation ITR office for any local attractions offering similar deals.
Taking your child to see a professional sports game can be both pricey and hard to plan. Services like MilTribe‘s partner, Tickets for Troops make it possible. You have to register for an account and verify that you are a service member, but the service makes free and discounted tickets available to service members and veterans.
Don’t count out your local minor league team, either. Contact MWR, ITR or the local team’s park office and ask about discounted or free tickets. Local teams frequently host military nights where admission may be discounted or free. These games offer all the fun of live sports without the parking and crowd nightmare of top tier professional teams. For excited little athletes, the players on local teams are often much more approachable and willing to chat or pose for pictures.
Current U.S. military members and dependents in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard as well as Reserve and National Guard members are eligible for a free annual pass to National Parks and Federal recreation areas. Tackle the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. Explore 500,000 acres in the Great Smokey Mountains with one of the many hands-on junior rangers and Smokey Mountain Field School opportunities available to kids in the park. Discover the giant coral reefs hidden underground in the Sierra Nevadas of California. Find a park or recreation area near your installation at the National Park Service website.
Blue Star Museums is a National Endowment for the Arts effort that makes more than 2,000 museums available to military families for free during the summer. If you are planning a weekend trip during the school year, contact the museums on this list to check for military discounts or programs available during the academic year. Before you go, check out Blue Star Families Parent Toolkit for help in making the most of your museum visit.
Take advantage of local deals by adding the Groupon app to your phone. Groupon regularly showcases discounts to both local attractions and traveling features to make your weekend plans more affordable. Family fun parks, ropes courses, historic farm sites and dine-in movie theaters have all popped up on my local Groupon. It makes it possible to surprise my family with weekend fun more often than I would otherwise.
Service is an ever-present part of a military child’s life, but we should still empower them to make a direct impact on their community. Let your child choose an issue that is important to them and look for ways to volunteer that align with their issue. Animal shelters often need help walking dogs, cleaning kennels and cleaning up outdoor areas. Local sports parks may need help with landscaping or clean up. Youth Service America is one way to search out volunteer opportunities but consider reaching out directly to a local organization your child is interested in, too.
Frequent moves, separations from friends and family, instability are all military life challenges that impact the whole family. Setting aside some time on the weekends to engage with our kids through fun, service and exploration build back up their reserves. A little planning, some research and the willingness to try something new make it possible to discover fun weekend activities for kids at every military installation.
About the blogger
Kristen is an Army wife since 2006, herding her 8-year-old son, two dogs and one horse through military life. When she’s not wrangling the Tricare appointment line or building communities online in her role as a digital media strategist, she listens to podcasts, spends an hour longer than she said she would at the barn and Googles the stuff her science-minded kiddo talks about. She celebrates all those spouses creating their own definition of military spouse success at White Gloves, Optional and shares her own trial-and-error attempts at balancing home, work & all that other stuff, too!