Is it just us or do stores suddenly seem inundated with school supplies already? And those “fall lovers” among us have already started craving their pumpkin spice lattes (you know who you are!). Summer isn’t over yet, is it? Nope. Summer’s over when YOU say it’s over. And that’s when you’ve had all the fun on your family summer bucket list.

Here are 6 staycation adventures to put on your family summer bucket list. They’ll help you send your kids back to school with oodles of material for the inevitable “What did you do this summer?” essay. And best of all? They’re all free (or almost!).

 1.  Go geocaching

Use a GPS device or download a geocache app on your phone to participate in the “world’s largest treasure hunt.” The coordinates will guide you to “caches”  objects that other people have hidden. The fun is in finding the cache treasures and then replacing them with a surprise of your own, from pencils to stickers to fidget spinners.

2.  Hold a toy/bike wash

Wrangle all the outdoor toys, including bikes, foot-pedal cars, and slides. Then grab buckets, sponges, mild soap, and a hose and have your kids go to town. If they’re particularly enterprising, they can wash their friends’ bikes and toys for a small fee. And if they’re still having fun, have them wash the grimy plastic playroom toys too. They can air dry all the toys on clean towels or sheets.

3. Unleash your inner artist

Painting on paper is old school. Instead, get artsy with a new medium. Go big with a discarded appliance box to make a fort. Or you can go small with rocks you’ve collected to paint a family of mice or inspirational sayings. Decorate your sidewalk with chalk or repurpose an old sheet from the linen closet for the biggest canvas you can imagine. Work together as a family on one work of art, or let each member make their own.

4. Have a neighborhood game night

Adults love to wax eloquently about nights spent playing Capture the Flag or Kick the Can outside after dark, instead of sitting around on devices. Well, put your money where your mouth is and introduce your kids and their buddies to some of these fun group games! Organize the teams loosely by age or by family and get moving.

5. Hold an outdoor movie night

Gather your kids’ pals and the neighbors for a movie night in your backyard. You can screen a family-friendly classic, or if your group is a little older, have a double feature with a themed series. A white sheet works great as a screen (and then you can paint on it the next day, as per Summer Bucket List Item No. 3). Don’t forget the popcorn!

6. Go camping

Well, kinda. Nothing wrong with setting up a tent in your backyard. It’s a great alternative that allows you to head in if it gets too cold (or, you know, you have to go to the bathroom). Make it authentic with s’mores over a fire pit, scary ghost stories, and stargazing.

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about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.