When I was a kid, the best day of school was always the last day of school. It signaled many things: successful completion of another year, maturing and moving on, a summer filled with family and fun, but, most of all, freedom. I was free from my school schedule!

The only downside to summer was the lack of friends. Living in the country meant I virtually had one playmate, my brother. He was three years older and had zero interest in Barbies, having a tea party, or playing dress-up. On the other hand, I didn’t enjoy Hotwheels, basketball, or GI Joes. So we were left with compromising. Occasionally, GI Joe and Barbie would have a play date on the basketball court (which was an old barn’s leftover concrete foundation in the backyard), but most often we could be found playing catch or using his BB gun. Oh, the fun of the good old days!

What’s considered “fun” might have changed over the years, but summer still gives brothers and sisters, plus neighbors and friends, an opportunity to explore. We’re lucky to have so many things to see and do right here in our neck of the woods. So why not plan your “stay-cation” today?

The Muscatine County Conservation Board hosts a series of free camping weekends complete with Saturday evening programs at Saulsbury Lodge. Find their schedule on Facebook or call them at 264-5922. From the lagoon at Weed Park or Discovery Pond, to Chicken Creek and the Mighty Mississippi, you can find some refreshment in the water. Whether it’s fishing, canoeing, kayaking, or just plain ol’ creek stomping, our area waterways can entertain your family for hours.

Plus, get yourself, your teens, and your kiddos signed up for the Musser Public Library Summer Reading Program. This year’s sports-themed program is sure to have your entire family reading for the fun of it. For more information, call the library at 263-3065. Whatever you do this summer, do it together and keep exploring!