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The final grades are being tallied. The school buses are making their final runs. It’s almost summertime and the warm, sunny weeks ahead mean a break from school—and lots of free time. Here’s how you can help kids in your community have a summer they’ll never forget.

Dive into a book

Share the wonders of a good book and reading for fun with children in your community. Connect with your local library to explore opportunities to read to children or help out with summer reading programs. Or organize an informal reading challenge in your neighborhood or with children in your family. For ideas on how to find good books and get kids excited about reading, check out Start with a Book, Reading Partners, and Reading Rockets.

Go out and play

Summer days are meant for fun and sun. Your community may have sports or recreation leagues that need coaches, referees, and other volunteers. You may also ask about summer sports leagues in the area. Love to swim? Check out your local YMCA or nonprofit groups like the Swim Strong Foundation or the Red Cross to find out how you can get certified to teach water safety and swim lessons. Sharing the activity you love could save a life.

A number of nonprofit organizations offer special experiences to various groups of children to help give them memorable summers. Organizations like Best Day Foundation and A Kid Again help children dealing with illness and disabilities have fun summer outings. Urban outing programs like The Fresh Air Fund (New York City) bring kids from the big city out into wide open spaces for trips, camps, and adventures.

Get campy

If memories of your own summer camp days make you wistful for that sense of community—and some S’mores—volunteering at a summer camp might be for you. Community-based camps often need counselors and other help to give kids a great experience. Your municipality or local houses of worship may have summer camp programs.

You may also find opportunities at specialty camp programs. Camp Sunshine offers camp experiences for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to get away. Experience Camps offer summer camp programs for children who have experienced the loss of a parent, sibling, or primary caregiver. The YMCA also offers summer camps in the communities it serves.

Be a summer scientist

Immerse yourself and your children in the wonders of the scientific world. Start with your closest science-related museum and see if they need volunteers. Community Resources for Science has a number of outreach opportunities that let you share your love of science.

Summer weather can be unpredictable. Help crowdsource weather reports. The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory collects public weather reports through a free app available for smart phones or mobile devices. The app is called “mPING,” for Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground. You select the type of weather that’s occurring near you and use the app to submit an anonymous report that helps weather scientists around the world.

Ready to help kids make the most of those fleeting summer months? Look for more opportunities here

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