It’s summertime in the Catskills! This week brings the heat and humidity like Hell just opened a vent in upstate NY. The rising temperatures seem to have brought with it the rising cost of gasoline, plane tickets, restaurant prices, just about anything involving travel. On top of that, some families are still a little nervous about traveling too far away from home, whether it be for family’s safety or low bank accounts or the risk of contracting COVID. It feels as though we are finally free from most restrictions but are still prevented from travel.

I am always in favor of travel. I think that if you have the means and the opportunity, you should travel abroad or cross-country; get out and away from your norm once in a while. There is so much to see and experience in our own country, even more throughout the world. Seeing different foods, animals, landscape, fashion, lifestyles, and architecture are just some of the reasons I think we should all travel more. Experience as much as you can, I say, and maybe we won’t be so quick to judge others based on appearance alone.

But what do you do if you are nervous or unwilling to travel too far this summer?

In the area that I live in, there are no cities to explore or take advantage of. No museums to become members of. No county fair to be a part of. No manufacturing place or factory to take a tour of. There are limited ‘tourist’ spots, but they do exist.

Here are some ideas for local families in my area that are staying close to home this summer:

  1. Spend the afternoon at your favorite farmer’s market. Our area has had an explosion of out-of-towners moving in; every time I go to a farmer’s market, I am surprised that I do not know anyone there. It gives me the sense that I am someplace else, experiencing a new area. Here is a link that give days and times for the Sullivan County Farmer’s Markets this season. Sullivan Catskills Farmers Markets – Homegrown with Heart
  2. Join the Western Sullivan Public Library, or whatever your local library is. While I don’t like every program they offer, I do love the about of books and other media that they have available for my son (and for myself). Often smaller library systems will be linked to other larger libraries. Our is linked to Ramapo, which is huge! www.wsplonline.org
  3. Travel to a zoo or aquarium. There isn’t one in Sullivan County that I know of, but there are a couple that are close. Claws ‘n’ Paws in Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania and Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York are excellent for kids. Check out their websites for events and prices. www.clawsnpaws.com and www.theanimaladventurepark.com
  4. Go for a trip down the Delaware River. Whether it’s tubing, kayaking, or rafting, go and experience the Delaware River! I recommend Lander’s River Trips. They will get you safely down the river and back to your car. You can start in Callicoon and make it all the way to Matamoras, Pennsylvania if you want to go that far (there are several stops along the way if you don’t want to go the 40+ miles downriver). Remember to hydrate and wear the sunblock! If you choose to do it on your own, remember to ALWAYS wear a life vest on the Delaware, no matter your swim level! www.landersrivertrips.com
  5. Set up an outdoor movie theatre at home. It’s easier than you think! If you cannot haul a TV outside for movie night, you will need a projector. If you don’t purchase a projector screen with the projector, a clean white sheet will do. It will have to be wrinkle-free and pulled taught so that a breeze can’t move it too much. Next, you will need media and audio. Bluetooth speakers are a must along with a laptop. A Roku or Amazon Fire TV stick will work perfectly in your laptop. You may need an extension to plug things in, but once these things are set up, your only task will be to make the popcorn and figure out which night is movie night!
  6. Arrange for a tour of an emergency response station. I’m sure that our local fire department, state police barracks, or ambulance corps would be happy to provide a tour of the building and equipment for youths interested in how it all works. You may even be lucky enough to get a free souvenir. Try the Jeffersonville Volunteer Fire Department or Monticello Fire Department. There is a NYS Police barracks in Liberty, NY that could give tours of the station and cars; maybe even a K9 will be there. The Jeffersonville Ambulance Corps and Mobile Medic Ambulance are top notch and would be happy to accommodate.
  7. Turn your backyard into a campground. Set up your tent and firepit before it gets too dark out. Spend the day finding and cataloging wildflowers or trees. Look for insects and try to identify birds. I bet you could fill a whole notebook of things just in your backyard or woods. Then come back to your campsite and cook hot dogs or pizza or burgers over the fire. Don’t forget the s’mores ingredients! Be sure to bring out the bug spray and towelettes!
  8. Go out and support the local fireman field days in the area. Most likely the small local departments did not get to have their fundraisers last year, so they need all the support they can get! Buy a couple of dinners, enter their horseshoe tournament, buy some raffle tickets, make a donation, whatever. You never know what that day will bring you.

These are just a few things that are offered around my area. It may not seem like a lot, but it will fill up your summer days and evenings with fun and memories.

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