10 Ways To Maximize Your Summertime

10 Ways To Maximize Your Summertime

Have a lot of free time you don't know what to do with? Here are some tips to help you keep that time productive and rewarding.

Whether you have signed up for two internships this summer, or are just planning to chill-ax after finals, remember that time is precious and it is imperative that you use it wisely on things you want to accomplish. think back to those stressful times in school when you would have given anything to read a book or watch your favorite movie. We have that time now and if you're lost on how to spend, here are a couple tips to help you have a pleasant and productive summer.

1. Make sure that your sleep schedule is consistent

During the summer there is no pressure to get up early for a morning class or stay up late to study for any exams. You finally have the flexibility to establish a healthy sleep schedule that will optimize your energy for the day and rest during the night. This is the first step to making sure you are boosting your energy for your productive summer days.

2. Make a list of things you want to achieve

Whether it's binging your favorite show on Netflix or learning how to play an instrument, make your plans palpable. Jot down all the things you want to do this summer while you are still motivated to do so. As days pass, you may lose sight of all the fun activities you wanted to do during the school year. Having a constant reminder of how useful this time can be will be helpful to organize it.

3. Read books

As a student, reading leisurely can be close to impossible. With free time, reading is a great way to keep your mind exercised and relaxed. And, there is an immense diversity of genres you can choose from. I am sure you will be able to find a book that will catch your eye. If you need book suggestions check out LibraryThings.com or ask your librarian.

4. Get ahead

Maybe you want to study this summer or work on applications. The summer is a great time to get ahead, but I will admit it is pretty difficult to independently get work done over the break. The best way to honestly keep yourself on top of studying or working on your own is to make a schedule. You don't have to necessarily be strict about abiding by it but planning out your time will help you see how fast the day can go without getting a single thing done. And, if you are planning to get ahead this summer it's better that you actually do the work instead of letting it drag on to time that could be used enjoying your summer break.

So make a schedule and remember to put plenty of free time for breaks. Your scheduled breaks will encourage you to get something done and allow for consistent mental rewards for being productive.

5. Write

Writing is something anyone can do. Whether it's just jotting down some ideas you have, blogging, writing articles, writing stories, recipes, poetry or even just a stray thought, write it!. Taking the time to explore your mind and fabricating your thoughts to the written word is a great experience, and use of time.

6. Art

Whether it's music, painting, dance, anything, the summer is a great time to work on your more creative side. If you play an instrument, make a practice schedule and play music you really love. If you need some free music check out imslp.org, they have a vast library of public domain music for essentially every instrument. Do you want to learn some dance routines? YouTube has a number of tutorials waiting for you. And there are no rules to painting, especially if it's just for fun. Painting too messy? Buy a coloring book, they are surprisingly fun for all ages.

7. Feed yourself

When you are in the rush of school it can be difficult to keep up with a stable diet. But summer break is all about you, so make sure you're feeding yourself well! If you have the time and resources, cook for yourself as much as possible. Trying new recipes and eating your favorite foods can be the pinnacle of anyone's day.

8. On vacation? Take tons of pictures!

If you're on vacation or doing anything special this summer, it is important to document all the highlights. And, I'm not talking about for social media but for yourself as well. Pictures are the best way to preserve memories. Your pictures don't have to all be photo finish ready but just consistent enough so that they can re-tell your experiences.

9. Spend time with people

At school, socializing with the many peers, professors, and acquaintances that surround you on a daily basis is no problem. However, when you are on break, it can be easy to find yourself isolated or a little out of place, because people are just not as accessible.

By any means do not waste a surplus of time on your computer, phone or social media. Make sure you are putting in the time and effort to reach out to people over the break, especially family and friends.

10. Got a summer budget? No problem.

Having a tight budget for your summer break is totally understandable but don't worry because you can still have an absolute blast. Want to eat some trendy ice cream this summer but don't want to spend money on a fancy parlor? Make your own batch of ice cream or splurge on fun toppings and Walmart brand vanilla bean. Being crafty with your foods can be even more fun than going to fancy eateries. Want to enjoy the weather and sun but can't afford to vacation?

Going outside is always an option either way. Check out a local lake, have a picnic, have fun with bubbles outside, chalk art... there are a ton of things you can do right in your backyard. And, don't forget about reading, art, writing, these are all things you can do for little to no money.

Cover Image Credit: StockSnap

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40 Things To Do During Summer Vacation

Because we all know four months without college friends or classes is WAY too long.

It's been less than a week since finals wrapped up at the University of Minnesota, and I, among many of my other friends, are already lost on things to do. Since January, our entire schedules have been filled with homework and studying. The new freedom summer brings provides endless time (in between our summer job shifts, of course) for new activities and things you wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to do during the school year. Below is a list of 40 different activities to keep you entertained during your break and to ensure you make the most of your summer.

1. Learn a new language.

I highly recommend starting with Duolingo. It's an app that provides free language tutoring through a series of activities and exercises. It offers a wide variety of languages such as Spanish, German, Greek, Swahili, among many others.

2. Volunteer.

There's an endless amount of volunteering opportunities offered throughout every major city in the country. For example, many hospitals will accept volunteers, as well as organizations in Minnesota such as Feed, My Starving Children, or the Ronald McDonald House. Most positions only require an application but be sure to check for minimum requirements such as age or experience.

3. Read a book.

Go to a library and wander until you find a book you think you'll like. Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

4. Watch a TED talk.

This is one of my favorite hobbies any time of the year. TED is a nonprofit organization that shares short, approximately 15-minute videos ranging from science to business to global issues. There's a topic out there for everyone.

5. Start a garden.

Even if you don't have any outdoor space, succulents and cacti are very low maintenance and still add a little "green" to your indoor space.

6. Go camping.

Whether it's at a campground or in your backyard, enjoy the technology-free time with your family or friends.

7. Paint.

If you're not an artistic person, go to the store, buy a set of Crayola watercolors, and just paint.

8. Take an online course.

Coursera and edX both supply free online courses from top universities such as Yale, MIT, and Harvard. If you're trying to further your understanding of a particular topic such as physics or biology, I suggest starting with these websites.

9. Bake brownies or cookies.

Most stores stock up on the prepared cookie or brownie mixes, but if you have the time and ingredients, try making them from scratch.

10. Fly a kite.

Kites are available on Amazon for $10-$15, and instruction videos are available on YouTube to help you get started.

11. Play board games.

Life and Scrabble are my go-to's.

12. Make a scrapbook of old memories.

If you have the time and a little extra money, I promise the end-product will be worthwhile.

13. Start a journal.

You don't have to go buy the fancy Moleskin journals or buy an expensive one from Barnes and Noble, a simple notebook will do the trick. Write down your thoughts and document your summer.

14. Go to the beach.

Enjoy the sunshine, but don't forget sunscreen!

15. Go fishing.

Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and one of them is most likely within driving distance. Take the time on a nice, calm morning, and go fishing.

16. Binge-watch a TV show on Netflix.

"The Office," "Friends," "New Girl," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Grey's Anatomy" are good places to start.

17. Start a bucket list and cross off one item every week.

The items added don't have to be spectacular and nearly unattainable, they can be little things, too. In other words, I'm not expecting you to go skydiving, swim with sharks, and go on a cruise all in one month.

18. Learn to rock climb.

Both indoor and outdoor rock climbing are available depending on your level of comfort and experience. Remember to take every safety precaution and have fun.

19. Catch up with an old friend over coffee.

Call the friend you haven't seen in three years and ask to catch up over coffee. You never know how much their life has changed since last speaking with you.

20. Have a picnic.

Pack a basket with sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, and juice, and find a nice spot with a view. Maybe bring a book for a post-picnic activity.

21. Meditate or do yoga.

If you're unexperienced in both of these activities, many YouTube channels provide instructional videos. I'll post a link to one of my favorite YouTube yoga instructors here.

22. Learn a new instrument.

Whether it's piano, guitar, or even this $7.49 recorder from Amazon, try something new.

23. Discover new music.

Spotify and Pandora are great music platforms to discover different songs and artists. Keep checking your local venues and maybe attend a concert if possible.

24. Complete a puzzle.

You can buy puzzles online for around $10-$15. However, thrift stores and stores like Goodwill often sell them for less than $5.

25. Visit a museum.

The Science Museum of Minnesota and Minneapolis Institute of Art are two of the post popular museums in Minnesota. If you check their websites and other internet sources such as Groupon, you might be able to find a discount for admission.

26. Go to a comedy show.

I'm unaware of good comedy events around the country, but if you ever find yourself in downtown Minneapolis, check out Brave New Workshop.

27. Build a card tower.

If you're unsure how to do so, here is a link to instructions.

28. Reorganize and redecorate your room.

If you'd like a change in your life, try redecorating or reorganizing your room. Donate old clothes, books, or furniture no longer in use.

29. Marathon the entire Harry Potter series.

I challenge you to do this back-to-back with each movie, but I also realize that is 19 hours and 39 minutes of watching movies, not including snack or bathroom breaks.

30. Play with a pet.

It doesn't have to be your own. For a real adventure, check out the nearest animal shelter.

31. Start a blog.

Wordpress and Weebly are two online blogging websites that I highly suggest. Although it takes awhile to become accustomed to the platform, these websites are great because they're entirely customizable to the type of blog you wish to create.

32. Go for a bike ride.

Whether it's along the river or out on back roads, go for a ride.

33. Teach yourself how to juggle.

This might be easier said than done, but some videos on YouTube might be useful.

34. Take a bubble bath.

Some bubble bath or a bath bomb, music, and a good book will have you relaxed almost instantly.

35. Go to a farmer's market.

Support the farmers in your community and try buying local. With a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, baked goods, and flowers, there's something for everyone. The farmer's market in downtown Minneapolis is open Thursday's from 6am-6pm, while the Lyndale Market is open daily from 6am-1pm.

36. Exercise.

Go for a walk. Run. Bike. Do yoga. Play soccer. Just get up, and get moving.

37. Become a tourist in your own city.

Pretend you're from out of state and only have a limited amount of time to explore your city. Take yourself and your friends or family to the must-see places around town.

38. Color.

Adult coloring books have become an increasingly popular trend. Available online, Barnes and Noble, and Target, they're easily accessible. You can buy a book, some colored pencils or pens, and enjoy the relaxing day.

39. Spend time with your family and friends.

Whether it's a movie day or going out on a walk, put away your phone or laptop for a day and appreciate the people standing around you.

40. Enjoy all the time you have not worrying about studying or homework.

Cover Image Credit: Joe Pizzio // Unsplash

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5 Reasons It's Always Worth It To Be A Summer Camp Counselor

Summer camps have a special place in my heart, and I'm here to share that with you.


Since I was 15, I have been a counselor at various summer camps. I have been a Program Aide at Girl Scout camp, a counselor at church camp, and a counselor at a day camp. These were all camps that I attended as a kid, so they already had a special place in my heart when I got a chance to work at them.

After being a camp counselor for five years, there are things that I have learned on the job that has helped me in life. Being a counselor has also helped me grow as a person. It's helped me gain skills that I don't think I would have learned in other jobs. I'm here to share what I love about the job of being a camp counselor.

1. You get to be the leader/role model

As a kid, there were many counselors in my life that I looked up to. They were people that I strived to be alike in my life, but now that I'm older, I get to be that person for the kid. What I say and do will influence how the kids around me act. That comes with a lot of stress, but it's also empowering. You can be a positive influence in a kids life, and hopefully, teach them important life lessons.

2. You can be your goofy self

One thing that I love about working with kids is that I can be silly around them. Kids won't judge you for being silly because they're silly right alongside you. They feed off your energy, and it can help them explore the world around them through communication. Plus, when was it not fun to be silly?

3. You get to hang out with kids all day

This reason might turn people off from the job, but it's a part of why I love being a counselor. Hanging out with kids tires me out at times, but they also motivate me to keep going. They're little balls of energy, and I feed off of other people's energies well. The kids also help me feel youthful and like nothing matters. Everything is fun to them; they help me keep a positive outlook on life.

4. Your coworkers become your best friends

Working at a summer camp can be difficult at times. It's emotionally and physically draining as well. But having a good support team helps with that. The counselors that I have worked with in the past have become my best friends, and I still stay in touch with some. They're there for you when no one else is, and they understand what you're going through. You know that their feelings for you are genuine, and they want to help as much as they can.

5. You get to watch the kids grow

Over the summer, I get to see the same kids every week at my camp. I get to see them grow as people over the summer and it's a rewarding experience knowing that I was able to help them. Watching them become leaders and grow into little helpers by the end of the summer is one of my favorite things.

I'm excited to have the opportunity to work at a summer camp again this year. I know that it'll provide an opportunity to grow as a person and I can't wait to see my favorite kids again.

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