It’s not too late to start making memories with your kids. So many times when I think back to my childhood I think about family vacations that my parents took me on. With my own kids, I think of the vacations that we took with them. Of course, there is more to life than vacations. But, vacations are important.

Time seems to get away from all of us. Without making the effort to plan a vacation all of a sudden the summer is over and the kids have to go back to school. We see it all the time. The phone starts ringing after the 4th of July when parents realize, “School is just around the corner and we haven’t gone anywhere this summer yet! I better make some plans!” I hear the desperation in their voice as they try to squeeze a family vacation into their busy life. Don’t let life get in the way of memory making.

I do certainly understand the excuses and reasons. I have some of them below and then I also have suggestions for you too!

Teens: The kids are so busy and have no time. The kids have jobs. The kids don’t want to go with us. They want to bring their friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend.

Elementary: The kids are involved with too many activities. We have no time.

Toddlers: They are too exhausting. We don’t have a lot of money.

Babies: They are too exhausting. I can’t get out because they are too little. They won’t remember it. We don’t have a lot of money.

Solutions or at least another way to looking at things:

Teens: Issues. The kids are so busy and have no time. The kids have jobs. The kids don’t want to go with us. They want to bring their friend, boyfriend or girlfriend.

Really….. they may say that they don’t want to do anything with the family. But, that typically is not the whole truth. If you “make them” go on vacation with you then they can use that excuse with their friends and say that they “have to” go on vacation with their family. But, truly, the vacation is what they will remember. Those of us that have experienced parenting teens know that it can be a challenging time. They are supposed to be pushing back a little bit. And that’s OK. It really can be an awesome age to spend with them.

You decide if they can bring a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. If you want just family, then set that rule. Or perhaps, if you are close enough, they can come for the last couple of days (not the first part of the vacation). Having a job is a reality for many teens. Many employers are flexible with enough notice. Make sure they tell their employer as early as possible. Family is more important!

If you have been vacationing together since they were young, it is easy to continue when they are teens. But, if you haven’t gone in the past, it isn’t too late to start making memories.

Foosball is in the lodgeMake memories with teenagers:

  • Come up with your own list of memory making activities. But, here are some to consider.
  • Physical activity: Learn how to paddleboard. Have swimming contests, play volleyball, go canoeing or kayaking along the edge of the lake to look for different wildlife. Have parent/teen canoe or kayak time.
  • Have family game night in your cabin or in the Lodge. Have an outdoor Yahtzee tournament. Play horseshoes even if you don’t know the rules.
  • Cook together. Have them in charge of a meal. Bake cookies together.
  • Involve them in the vacation planning (food, activities, etc.)
  • Ban social media? Maybe instead of banning it, limit it to a specific time or place. We all like to be social.
  • Go fishing: Go at sunrise, go fishing on different docks.
  • Go to a different area lake for part of a day to take a swim and/or picnic.
  • Research ahead of time what animals, birds, fish are in the area and try to find them when you are here.
  • Take photos for a scrapbook. Make sure to get a photo of the whole group together.
  • Lay on the hammocks or sit on the dock at night and see how awesome it is to see so many stars. Go to the Campground dock because it is especially dark there! You will notice different sounds too.

Elementary: Issues. The kids are involved with too many activities. We have no time.

In the 17 years that we have been in the resorting business, we are seeing that parents are making their vacation reservations later and later. It used to be that the vacation was planned and the other activities were planned around it. That isn’t always a reality in today’s world.

The activities are more time invasive and last minute and it seems that more emphasis is put on the child to be at every single practice, game or tournament by the coaches or leaders. Families simply don’t know what their kids’ schedule will be like. I do understand that. But, they are in elementary school. They are young. Making family memories will last a life time. OK, maybe you have to wait for one or two things to get planned out, but, then make those vacation plans. Make some memories.

Make memories with elementary aged kids:

  • Come up with your own list of memory making activities. But, here are some to consider.
  • Physical activity: Go hiking in the woods. Learn how to paddleboard, maybe while kneeling. Learn how to dive into the lake.
  • Open your eyes: Really look at the sand by the beach-what is in it? Go out at night and look at the stars. Rainy day? Watch a storm go over the lake and drink hot chocolate.
  • Go fishing: Go with different family members. Fish from different docks.
  • Cooking: Have them help you make a dinner that is cooked over a fire or on the grill. Have them involved in planning of a meal (or two). Pick a theme and have them help plan it. For example: Every dinner has to include something that is wild (wild blueberries, wild rice, wild pheasant, wild rhubarb…) or maybe every lunch has to include something that has to be eaten with a spoon.
  • Family games: Create and go on a scavenger hunt. Learn a new board game. Learn a new card game. Learn a new dice game.
  • Take advantage of any area activities that are planned while you are on vacation.
  • Spend a little time outside after dark and look for shooting stars and listen to the frogs, birds and rustling of leaves.

Toddlers: Issues. They are too exhausting. We don’t have a lot of money.

OK, toddlers are exhausting. There is no getting around that. But they are exhausting if you are at home or on vacation. So bring them on vacation and getting them and yourself outdoors. There is so much that you can do with toddlers and if you are lucky they will be so tired that they go to bed early and then YOU can go to bed early!!

Take advantage of the fact that they are not in school yet. Go when the other kids and their families are in school. Go towards the beginning of June, end of August, or the month of September. The rates are lower, sometimes half the price. The weather in northern Minnesota in September can be awesome. But, not as many vacationers know that because they AREN’T VACATIONING. But  you can be!

Make memories with toddlers:

  • Come up with your own list of memory making activities. But, here are some to consider.
  • Physical activity: Have them sit with you as you are on a paddleboard. Go for a short hike in the woods; look at the trees, plants and grounds; and notice how different they are. Spend time in the playground on the Pirate Ship and make up stories.
  • Teach them how to make S’mores, how to take a fish off the hook, what the night sky looks like without the city lights.
  • Be a beach scientist and look at the water by the shore, what do you see? Make sandcastles.
  • Fish off the dock in the shallow water for some little fish. Show them what bait looks and feels like (leeches, minnows, etc.). Bring them to the fish cleaning house to see what the entails (guts) of fish looks like.
  • Take advantage of the summer programs in the area and the local Edge of the Wilderness Discovery Center.

Babies: Issues. They are too exhausting. I can’t get out because they are too little. They won’t remember it. I don’t have a lot of money.

If anyone tells me that babies aren’t exhausting, I think they aren’t telling the truth. But, I just call that life. They are a lot of work whether you are at home or on vacation. But getting out on vacation with babies can be relaxing for you. It gets you out of the rut of home, work, eat, clean, change diapers, do bedtime, repeat. When you are sitting in a cabin in northern Minnesota, the worries of cleaning the house, paying bills, getting ready for work won’t be there. We all still have to eat and sleep, but not all the “other” stuff!

Like with toddlers, take advantage of the fact that they are not in school yet and vacation when the rates are lowest (Early June, end of August or the month of September).

Make memories with babies:

  • OK, maybe the babies won’t remember the vacation. But, you will!! When they are older they will see photos of them as babies while on vacation with you. That will be their memory. So, do something for you (and your spouse)!

Make memories that will last a lifetime. Take a northern Minnesota family vacation. No one can take away your memories.

Written by:
Karen Senger

Cedar Point Resort

Extra credit: Vacation at the same place every year. I cannot tell you how many times we hear people say “when I was a kid coming here…..”