How to Make the Most of Summer 2020

Here are a few quintessential activities to add to your summer to-do list that'll have you feeling nostalgic, fulfilled, and inspired.

I never went to summer camp as a kid. I never quite got the hype. The mandatory athletic activities, the mystery meats slopped onto plates in the cafeteria, and the possibility of waking up covered in syrup—à la The Parent Trap—didn’t sound like my idea of fun. Instead, I spent my summers at home with my two sisters, left to entertain ourselves in humdrum suburbia. Turns out, those summers of my youth have prepared me for our upcoming summer in quarantine. Am I disappointed that this year will be void of sweaty outdoor concerts, packed beaches, and clichéd rosé-fueled brunches? Of course. But I know what to do: The trick to beating dispiritedness is to make a plan for yourself—list all of the activities you can and want to do—so you focus on the many possibilities, instead of the restrictions, of the season. 

“A summer to-do list is 100 percent a great idea,” says Dr. Vivien Lee, psychologist and founder of the Centre for Trauma Recovery & Growth in Toronto. “Being hopeful, optimistic, and having something to look forward to makes you feel better.” Right now, after three months of quarantine, our lives feel stagnant. Are we going to spend the upcoming sunny months watching Amazon Prime? No! We already watched everything on it. But also, we know we won’t be happy sitting around, letting the season pass us by. Lee recommends thinking of goals you want to achieve and quintessential summer activities you love and adding them to your calendar in the next couple of months.

Yes, not knowing when certain places, like restaurants, will open, and if further restrictions will be made to limit the number of people in certain public spaces, like parks, can make planning difficult. But we know we can go outside (as long as we’re not immunocompromised), and we know we’ll be able to have small gatherings in backyards soon. So as long as you plan for gatherings that are smaller than you may be used to, and avoid public hotspots during peak hours, you should be good.

Not sure where to begin? I’ve consulted my inner 10-year-old summer planning expert to come up with a list of activities that’ll offer a dose of nostalgia, help you achieve your goals, and reunite you with the things that once brought you so much joy. So pick your activities, choose your dates, invite your (healthy) nearest and dearest, and relish all the simple pleasures of breezy summer days and balmy summer nights, free of sticky camp pranks.

1. Run your own marathon

Pick a date, pick a route, pick a time, and train to meet your running goal. Set out for your marathon early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and be sure to tell your housemates where your finish line is, and perhaps they’ll surprise you at the end.

2. Make camp bracelets

While embroidery bracelets were cool in my day, friendship bracelets are back again, thanks in large part to Rosie Assoulin. Pick up some bright-coloured beads and beads with letters, and make bracelets for yourself and your friends. (Try this bracelet kit from Wald Berlin.)

3. Go to the drive-in

Stock up on snacks (did you know popcorn can be good for you?), load up your car with friends who’ve been practicing good social distancing and find a spot at the local drive-in theatre. Invite other carloads of friends for a Grease-inspired night.

4. Host a concert night

The next time your favourite musician announces a live concert date, host a watch party with your friends in your backyard. Serve some drinks (like our watermelon cocktail) and enjoy the tunes—and not having to line up to use the washroom.

5. Pull a Monet

Grab a paint set, find a beautiful garden, and make an attempt at creating a masterpiece. Not much of a painter? Take your adult colouring book outside.

6. Barefoot in the park

Kick off your shoes and enjoy the feeling of grass between your toes. Going barefoot in the park is, of course, inspired by the fabulous movie with Jane Fonda and Robert, but it’s also a wellness fad. “Grounding” or “earthing,” an act in which you are connected to the earth, has many health benefits. Studies show it can be good for your cardiovascular health and can boost your mood.

7. Paddleboat at sunset

Near a body of water? Take out a paddleboat for a romantic ride at sunset.

8. Have a picnic under the stars

Pack up your picnic basket for a late-night dinner alfresco under the stars. (Just avoid packing these picnic foods.)

9. Fly a kite

If you don’t know how much joy flying a kite can bring, I’m going to assume you haven’t watched Mary Poppins. Watch that, and you’ll get why flying a kite is an essential summer activity. Plus, you’ll learn a really catchy song to sing while doing it.

10. Have a campfire

Do your research to find public campfires in your neighbourhood and invite your friends for a night of singing and making s’mores around the fire. Extra points if you have a friend who brings a guitar (and has your taste in music).

11. Make jam

Make full use of summer’s bounty and make jars of your favourite jam for yourself and loved ones. Here’s how to make jam like a pro.

12. Take a hike at sunrise

Get an extra early start one day and take a hike at the crack of dawn. The backdrop will make the setting even more picturesque. (Tip: Pre-make these peanut butter power balls and bring them with you for a healthy, energizing snack.)

13. Read at your local park

Picture it: You and your partner reading on a park bench, on a gorgeous summer day with a gentle breeze, while kids play peacefully nearby. I just described the last scene in Notting Hill—which is clearly worth recreating.

14. Make healthy fruit popsicles

Chill out with some homemade popsicles made with healthy superfoods. Try our four-ingredient berry yogurt popsicles.

15. Water balloon and water gun fight

The secret to throwing a good party is having an element of surprise. Halfway through your fete, bring out some pre-made water balloons or pre-loaded water guns for some fun—or to chase guests away if you’ve had enough.