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6 Epic Summer Adventures That Are (Almost) Free

Got some egg cartons, cardboard and Nerf guns? Epic!

Published on: July 12, 2015

I don’t know what your summertime experience has been like so far, but we’ve gone past the "planned activities" point and are well into "MOM, I’M SO BORED" territory. I’ve tried to convince my kids that cleaning out the basement is super fun! Surprisingly, they are not convinced. I cannot imagine why. The basement is cool in both a literal and figurative sense. I mean, somewhere in there is an original 18-inch Imperial Walker toy from 1982. But alas, they care not. Apparently, they want more epic-ness than 30-year-old Star Wars toys. Go figure.

In case you are the same phase of summer we are, here are six, super-cheap ways we are planning to epic-ize our summer. Borrow and post your own ideas in comments!

1. Cardboard empire

There are two types of people in the world: those that love cardboard forts and those that have to deal with cardboard forts taking up all available space in the living room. But not so during the summer because you can do it all outside! Got a huge box? Now you have a fort. Got another huge box? Fort Annex! Run to Costco? CARDBOARD EMPIRE. But you can make much more than a fort. Your local library has tons of books on cardboard building. Or simply click on over to and check out what they have. Houses, submarines, finger puppet theaters – you name it, it’s buildable. Last year we bought a dishwasher and spent an entire weekend creating a Victorian cottage complete with front porch, escape hatch and “No Borthers ALAWD” sign.

Eggy wars in action
Eggy wars in action

2. Epic eggy wars

Warning: Do not play eggy wars close to a window. To get started: cut the dimples out of an egg old carton. Each participant gets one carton’s worth. Once they’re cut out, turn the dimples upside down and draw faces on them. These are you Eggy warriors.

Next: go out into the yard and build your Eggy castle. This is done by piling up a bunch of stuff you find laying around the yard. Old bricks, pieces of wood, chicken wire, shoes — whatever is available. Now, place your eggy warriors around their castle. Going in turn, each kid then throws something at the opposing castle. At my house this is usually a brick, which is why this game is not allowed within 15 feet of the house. The point of the game is to destroy all castles entirely. All eggy warriors will be squished flat. There are no winners in Eggy wars. There are no losers. There are only EGGY WARS.

3.  Bus adventures

Bored with being stuck at home? Why not learn the bus system? Kids love the bus. Especially the part where they get to sit five seats away from you and pretend you don’t exist. Pick a bus route and learn the stops. Or set a goal to learn all the bused that stop in your neighborhood. Find a destination downtown and figure out how to get there. Go to the library for some entertainment! Go to the mall for some air conditioning! Go to the Costco for more cardboard boxes!

Beau Giles, flick cc

4. Take a Slurpee hike

Slurpee hikes are fun and easy to do! Simply find a convenience store about half mile from your home (preferably uphill). Now … walk there. Kids that aren’t used to walking will whine and complain right up until you hit the Slurpee machine (or soda machine or whatever you prefer). The key is to buy a treat to drink on the walk home. Generations of bored kids have spent entire summers on Slurpee hikes. Only then it was called “walking to the store.”

5. Let it glow!

Glow-in-the-dark spray paint is one of those taboo items that only parents are allowed to use — which makes this activity not only fun but slightly scandalous and exciting! Make sure to cover your work space with a drop cloth (old shower curtains work well) and definitely take this activity outside. Glow-in-the-dark spray paint is available at most hardware stores. Along with the paint you’ll need a spray can grip (around $5), a mask and some cement pavers (usually $2-$3 each). You can use leaves or other items as reverse stencils if you like. When done, leave the pavers outside to charge during the day and glow into the evenings. Bam! Epic landscaping.

6. Nerf battle

This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: two teams, two bases and all the Nerf firepower you can muster. The Epic Nerf Battle is best held in a contained area like a soccer field. You can have as few as four kids but 10 kids makes it was more exciting. Set up like Capture the Flag, the first team to take the opposing team’s flag wins. Bouts are five minutes long followed by ammunition round-up. Parents man the drinks table and make sure everyone who is playing helps clean up. Don’t have Nerf guns? Water guns work just as well.

Alas, these are only six ideas and summer is very long. What about your plans? Add your ideas in the comments below and let’s make this summer epic for everyone!

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