The IDF Widows and Orphans organization has some creative and affordable summer activity ideas for keeping your kids busy. IDFWO holds events and activities throughout the year for families who have lost a husband or father in the IDF.
Photo Credit: IDFWO
While kids spend the entire school year anticipating summer vacation, parents dread them, especially single parents, who struggle to balance work and find affordable ways to give their kids a fun and memorable summer.
IDFWO (IDF Widows and Orphans) provides programming, support and financial assistance to families who have lost a husband or father in the IDF. Einat Nachshoni, a widow and mother of two, can attest to their outreach. “IDFWO is a blessing,” Nachshoni said. “From the moment the organization came into the picture, they cared for and supported my daughters. This helped enormously, knowing that I wasn’t alone in the most difficult moments.”
The IDFWO has programs all year round to support widows and their children, including a weeklong camp during the summer, Sukkot, Pesach and Chanukah. They provide school supplies for first graders, organize bar and bat mitzvot, have a university scholarship fund and much more.
As an organization that is designed to make life easier for widows, many of whom are single parents, we asked the staff at IDFWO for creative summer activity ideas. Here are a few of their ideas on affordable ways to stay sane and keep kids entertained over summer break:
Arts & crafts projects
Long summer days are perfect for making creations that take more time than you have during the year. Have each child decide what they want to build or make. It can be as simple as a small jewelry box, a set of hooks for their room, or something more complex, like a treehouse.
Be creative with your kids and find ways to recycle supplies you already have in the house. For the remaining supplies, head to your local crafts or hardware store. If your kids are feeling adventurous, they can ask neighbors and friends for recycled supplies as well.
Help them be as independent as possible by encouraging them to create a building plan. Suggest working in pairs, so they can continue their project even when you’re not at home.
DIY home activities
If amusement parks are a family favorite but you’re short on the time and money they require, channel that energy to create your own adventures at home. You can build an obstacle course, plan a themed scavenger hunt, or create a mini-water park with a slip and slide, spray bottles, water balloons and a blow-up pool.
For calmer activities, plan a nature walk, check out your local library’s summer activity schedule or start a photography project.
For the nature walk, give each child a pad of paper and a pen to write down what they see as well as a bag to collect souvenirs for future projects (leaves, flowers etc.).
For a more affordable photo project, give each child a disposable film camera. The limited number of pictures will help them seek out special moments to photograph.
The IDFWO runs an incredible camp for kids ages 6-18, for one week during the summer. Aside from all the exciting activities, this camp is special because many counselors have gone through the same experience as the campers. Sarah Omer, whose children attended the camp, said, “The camp and activities provide a cathartic experience that cannot be found in typical Israeli camps.”
“They offer an essential opportunity for participants to experience a common bond,” said Yotam Omer, Sarah’s son, “The camps have enabled me to meet and become friends with children of all ages, from all over Israel, who have suffered the same tragedy as I have. We all understand each other’s pain and support each other.”
If your kids love arts and designing, The Open Studio in Jerusalem is a great place to check out. They have one or two-week camp sessions for kids, ages 4-15, with a variety of themes, including a wood studio, mosaics, glass work and even architecture and design.
Connect with Nature
Take advantage of the warm weather to be outside as much as possible. You can visit Ein Fashka, a beautiful nature reserve with public swimming near the Dead Sea, Yodfat Monkey Forest where you can feed monkeys up close, head to Palmachim Beach, or go berry picking.
For a special experience, head to the desert for some star gazing and storytelling. There are many affordable places to stay like Chan Eretz Hamirdafim near Kfar Adumim.
For some indoor adventures, pick a destination and jump on the train to see the country, go indoor rock climbing, or wade through the Hezekiah water tunnels in the Old City (Jerusalem).
No matter what your budget or family situation is, you can find fun and affordable ways to give your child a summer to remember.