Life Before Back To School

Three tried and tested ideas to invigorate children's summer break until the very last day.

One more week before school starts. What will you do with your last days of summer—especially if you happen to be suffering from summer-camp burnout? Try one of these fun ideas:


Hike to the Top of for a Sunset Picnic

First, call together a group of buddies. Then put together a portable meal ( sandwiches to share, delectable cookies, and thermos of Cherry Fizz mocktails would be a great end-of-summer treat). Finally, grab a blanket, a warm jacket and flashlight and head for the hills—making sure to take note of the two lush soccer fields (with actual grass) on the way up, not to mention the 1960s/1970s geodesic home on the way up to your right. This hike offers amazing 360-degree views of Eagle Rock, Mount Washington, and far beyond—and it’s less than moderately difficult.

To get to Oxy Hill from York Boulevard: Head up Campus Road from Alumni Avenue, turn left on Campus Drive and continue up the hill. When you see two big yellow gates, past Escarpa Drive, turn right into the campus. Keep walking for about 10 minutes until you see another set of big yellow gates on your left. That will lead you up a mountain trail—and those magnificent soccer fields will be adjacent to each other on your right.

Spread out your blanket, break out the picnic and, as you watch the summer sun go down, toast the coming school year with your Cherry Fizzes.


Take a Mini-Road Trip

Day temperatures aren't the only thing that have been high lately—and your parents don’t want you wandering too far, not least because gas prices are up again. So how about a mini-road trip to a cool beach along the coast? Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach have plenty of public parking and lots of great cafes and stores to explore.

Got a dog—or dogs—you’d like to take along all the way to the beach? If you don’t mind a 40-mile drive, head straight over the 5 South to the 605 and onto the Huntington Dog Beach. (The place is packed on weekends, so take advantage of the thin crowds as well as relatively easy parking during weekdays.)

Before you head out, load up your car with beach-themed music, a map, bottled water, food—order a couple of sandwiches from —and a charged-up cell phone. Promise to call Mom or Dad every two hours, and head back home before the sun goes down.


Organize Your Personal Library

Got stacks of books sitting around your bedroom? How about donating the books you’ve outgrown or are done reading to the , which raises funds to improve library services by holding monthly used-books sales.

You might also want to ask your parents to splurge for an Ikea bookshelf—priced at $129, the Expedit looks cool and holds about 100 books. Organize your favorite reads, either by genre (Fantasy, Romance, Sci-Fi, Classics) or even by color (which looks great but might make you misplace your favorite titles!). 

Write out labels for each genre. As you’re prepping to go back to school, organizing your books is a fun way to ease back into academics. If you’re heading off to college in the near future, this should give your studies that extra boost. Some colleges and universities—the University of Virginia is one example—even have contests for best personal libraries, including tomes entirely academic in nature (your collection of calculus textbooks, for example, could win a prize!).


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