Mix up your summer game plan with five new things to try

By: Jennifer Barnable, senior digital writer

Summer’s officially here and it’s hard not to get caught up in the energy and sunny, breezy vibes. Days are long and full of possibilities, with memories just waiting to be made.

After some very different summers during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are more than ready to start exploring and socializing, making up for those times we were isolated from the people, places and activities that are dear to us.

Here’s a list of five new things to try this summer, to mix up your summer game plan:

Volunteer in your community

With summer often comes more free time to enjoy our pastimes, pursue interests and plan new adventures. Volunteering is a wonderful way to make a difference in our communities, and flexible summertime schedules make the timing right. It’s thanks to volunteers that the Canadian Red Cross helps over 100,000 people across Canada each year.
A woman wearing a Red Cross vest carrying two white buckets with Canadian Red Cross logosBecoming a volunteer is a great way to stay active, apply skills, meet new people and contribute to your community while making a difference in someone’s life and gaining new experiences. We’ll also provide you with training and the support you need to make sure you have a rewarding experience.

Discover current Red Cross volunteer opportunities and apply to get started!


Explore new places

For the las few years, many of us have been adapting to a new era of working from home, where the lines between household haven and professional office space can quickly become blurry. Shake your routine up this summer by planning some weekend excursions to explore different places and attractions in your part of the country. When vacation time comes around, whether you choose a staycation or a cross-country roadtrip, there’s real benefit to a change of scenery to reset your mind and energy levels.

Two women and one man sit on a white blanket at the beach. They are laughing and talking while enjoying a picnic. A seagull sits in the background.Some summer outing ideas include:
  • Exploring provincial and national parks
  • Beachcombing and swimming
  • Plan outings with your best furry friend on trail walks and lake swims
  • Wilderness excursions in the backcountry
  • Camping trips to sleep under the stars
  • Geocaching
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Picnics
  • Patio parties
  • Campfires and BBQs
  • Attending local festivals and cultural events
  • Enjoying live music and theatre
  • Shopping at local farmers’ markets and artisan fairs

When planning outdoor activities this summer, be sure to keep vigilant to avoid heat-related emergencies and stay informed about how to stay safe in strong storms that may develop rapidly.

Take a class or workshop

Summer is also a convenient time for self-development. Is there a topic you’ve always been interested in but haven’t yet had a chance to pursue? Now could be an ideal time to make it happen – and because an emergency could easily happen as we increase our activities in summertime, taking a First Aid course is a timely and practical step to take.
Four women are kneeling on the floor of a classroom, practicing CPR skills during a training course. Their hands are making chest compressions on plastic manikinsFor more than 70 years, the Canadian Red Cross has been a leading provider of first aid, and health and wellness programs and courses for the public, workplaces, schools and organizations. Find courses online and in your community and don’t forget to download the free Red Cross First Aid App, to keep life-saving skills in your pocket.

Unplug to recharge

Whether you’ve got a house full of summer visitors or are vacationing abroad, life can get hectic amidst all the action. For me, a simple and very effective way to practice self care has been to unplug from unnecessary distractions – starting with my phone. Turning off notification sounds, setting screen time limits, and putting my phone in another room have helped, but sometimes I need tougher tactics.
Before taking a holiday this year, I went one step further and uninstalled all of my social media apps. The result? I can’t remember the last time I was so blissfully unconnected from devices and connected to my real life. This “unplugged strategy” made my holiday feel longer, fuller and more focused.
Apart from a quick, daily check in of email and texts in case of emergency, I was able to experience my surroundings and focus on my loved ones, and get plenty of uninterrupted rest. I returned to Canada feeling very much restored and will try this again the next time I travel.

This summer, consider unplugging to become more present, peaceful and focused. You’ll be proactively preserving your wellbeing and protecting your mental health, while connecting in real life with the people and passions that matter most to you.

Get your foodie groove on

One of the classic sounds and smells of summer come from firing up the grill. There’s no doubt about it, tasty food is a key part of summertime.

An open smiling mouth by a row of small burgers lined on a plateIf you love to cook, summer is an ideal time to get your foodie A-game on and impress your guests with new, mouthwatering recipes. Or, if you’re like me and a certified kitchen hazard, you might prefer taking in new restaurants, farmers’ markets, culinary festivals and food trucks in your city. By travelling just a couple of hours, you can explore new foodie destinations and sample famed, local specialities.

You could also create your own local “foodie circuit” tour, with a list of new places to taste test. I’ve got my list ready to go, based on local recommendations, interesting Instagram stories and some regional food guides. On your route, you could also take in local microbreweries, cideries, vineyards and tearooms in your part of Canada – or perhaps you’re overdue for a trip to the east coast for some seaside dining and beach picnics!

Finally, if you prefer to dine at home or al fresco at your favourite park during the warmer months, a potluck is a low-key, no-fuss option for getting your foodie fix while socializing. No matter where you dine, please don’t forget to keep cool and hydrated – this includes your pets!. Now’s also great time to refresh your first aid skills on how to respond is someone is choking.

The best summers are inclusive ones

From coast to coast, Canadian summer offers endless options to engage with your community and with nature. When you’re making plans, I really encourage you to check in with and invite people who may be isolated or new to the area. As a Newfoundlander living in Nova Scotia, I’ve seen firsthand how the East Coast motto of “the more the merrier” can ease loneliness, build stronger communities, and make lifelong memories. No matter the season, including others can make all the difference in someone’s life, not to mention your own!

Spend some of your summertime energy by volunteering with the Canadian Red Cross or registering for one of our many practical First Aid courses.

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