We asked some well-known local parents how they make summer a fun – and healthy – season for the whole family.
Leave boredom in your wake
“As kids get older, so do parents, so we need to work harder to keep up with our kids and be engaged in their activities. We’ve loved trying wakeboarding. It’s lots of fun, takes courage and new skills and works out your core. Head out to Valley Wake Park in Abbotsford for the day – they use a cable system to pull the boards through the lake, so there’s no boat required. Plus, there’s a sandy beach where you can play beach volley ball, a swimming zone, and they offer stand up paddleboarding rentals and classes on the lake.” – Jami Savage, family adventure blogger at AdventureAwaits.ca, Langley; Two children, 5 and 7.
“Our family, my wife Nicole and children Ryan, Lauren and Austin, love to go to Taku Resort on Quadra Island. It’s our favourite family summer holiday getaway and home to great fishing, hiking, mussel and oyster farms, prawning grounds, biking trails, and a cooking school. It’s also been home to several past SuperChefs Cookery Camps. Closer to home, we also enjoy taking a farm tour at Maan Farms in Abbotsford. It’s a great place to take the family and learn about healthy food.” – Dr. Greg Chang, dentist, chef, and founder of SuperChefs Cookery for Kids, a B.C.-based organization that teaches children and youth about healthy eating and lifestyle choices.
Try tandem biking
“Being a blind mom, helping Nicholas to get exercise is a bit harder unless you count me repeatedly asking him to run upstairs to find things for me. Seriously though, we are a pretty active family and we all love cycling. Nicholas has had a scooter bike since before he was tall enough to sit on the seat. We also have a tandem bike with a baby seat on the back. This means our family of three can go for bike rides together.” – Shawn Marsolais, founder of Blind Beginnings, a non-profit supporting children and youth who are blind or partially sighted and their families, New Westminster; Son Nicholas, 2½.
Explore canoeing, crabbing and hiking
“I enjoy finding the adventure in the little things. When we are at a canoe race on the oceanfront of a reserve, we hunt for crabs and learn about the ocean. When we hike, we talk about nature and respecting the earth and animals. We love to camp and sing around the fire and none of it is complete without 50 cousins. I call them the rat pack: all the kids 10 and under around the reserve all learning, playing and growing together.” – Inez “Lexaltenaut” Point, registered nurse, award-winning singer-songwriter, actress, producer and public speaker, Skowkale First Nation, Stol:lo Territory; Mother of Zane “Xwemxwe'eleq” Jasper, 7, Zara “Soteli:siya” Jasper, 3.
Just go ride
“Family places to ride that I like are Barnston Island for a flat 10-kilometre loop with very little traffic or try Steveston along the dykes for a flat, car-free ride with good food and lots of interesting sights. If you want to make a little more effort try the Seymour demonstration forest. Ready to take the cycling to the next level? Try the Kettle Valley as a family trip, with longer distances and beautiful scenery along the converted rail line. The rule of group rides is that no one gets left behind. If a street light splits the group, then the front end must wait for the back end.”– Gordon Hobbis, owner, Cap’s Bicycle Shop and Museum, New Westminster; Two sons, Jake, 21, and Joey, 18.
Take toys along
“When my children were younger, we encouraged them to play various sports so physical activity would be a life-long endeavour – volleyball, basketball, tennis, golf, baseball and soccer. Now when we travel we pack our volleyball and football and we play as a family. Volleyball allows us to invite others to play and have a good competitive game, and at the same time interact with others. We often take along our roller blades and my wife will rent a bike and this enables all of us to have some fun while we explore our new surroundings.” – Sukh Rai, vice principal, Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary School, Surrey; Two children, Arjen, 21 and Jaiya,18.
Plan a day in a park that has it all
“Bear Creek Park, located in Surrey at 13750 88 Ave. is a popular hot spot in the spring and summer months. My family loves the variety of playgrounds, water parks and the miniature train, and even the adults enjoy the beautiful trails, the outdoor gym circuit and games of mini golf. There is plenty of stuff to do here for the whole family, enough to keep us active for the whole day. Make sure to stay hydrated, slather on that sunscreen and make plenty of memories to last a lifetime.” – Kristyl Clark, blogger at Valleymom.ca and author of the Black Press newspaper column “Pink Laundry;” Langley; Two children, Molly, 7, and Zoe, 5.
Climb every mountain
“We’re very active all year, especially during the summer. As a family, we play basketball, ride bikes and do lots of hiking and swimming. A couple of our favourite hikes are the Lynn Valley loop and the Grouse Grind (which is really hard). We’ve also done the Squamish Chief (which is a killer) and we like to go hiking around Whistler too. In White Rock, close to where we live, there are the 1000 Steps that take you down to the promenade, then we walk along the promenade and back up. It’s about four kilometres, and about 1/5th of the Grind. It’s really fun! The boys also like to climb the big rock at White Rock.” – Don Coulter, President and CEO of Coast Capital Savings; Surrey; Three children, Evan 16, Nicholas, 14, Chase, 7.
Take a group hike to hang out
“We all love to hike and my kids favourite hikes are the Abby Grind and Teapot. We are fortunate to live on Majuba Hill and have some of the best hiking right out our back door. I also have lots of friends who like to hike with their kids and going as a group is so much more entertaining for the kids. We love to camp and always bring our bikes along with us.” – Brittany Manulak, Yarrow, co-owner, Abbotsford’s Concept Plumbing and Gas, volunteer with the Crystal Gala Foundation committee, which has fundraised for the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation; Two children, Maresha, 9, and William, 7.
Whip up smoothies
“In the summer, we eat a lot of salads and smoothies. My wife, Anna, makes the salads and the boys and I are in charge of the smoothies. For salads, they’re often based on quinoa and lentils. For the smoothies, lots of vegetables and fruit. My current favourite smoothie has kale, spinach, pineapple and orange. My oldest son, Evan, has been cooking for a few years; he’s quite independent and likes to experiment. We also have lots of Asian noodle dishes and stir-fry in the summer, a nod to my wife’s Asian heritage. And of course, lots of water, especially if we’re active when it’s hot outside.” – Don Coulter, President and CEO of Coast Capital Savings; Surrey; Three children, Evan 16, Nicholas, 14, Chase, 7.
Hit the beach for sand and water fun
“My kids and I love to paddleboard. They have excellent balance and I am pretty good at getting back on the board after I fall into the lake. My son and I discovered Snuba in Hawaii a couple years back. It is essentially a blend of snorkeling and scuba where the oxygen tank remains at the surface and the diver has about 20 feet of line to explore. It’s awesome. We also love the beach and have spent many days in the water or digging holes. Whether we are at White Rock or in Maui, we never fail to stop traffic and generate comments as a result of the elaborate sandcastles, tunnels and structures we build. Some people bring plastic shovels to the beach, we bring real shovels.” Cst. Ian MacDonald, Abbotsford Police Department; Two children, Alia, 15, Kieran, 11.
Overcome obstacles together
“We’ve enjoyed family trips to WildPlay Element Park in Maple Ridge, which has zip lines, and aerial adventure courses, including log ladders, rope swings, tightropes and other surprises, where you can work together to overcome obstacles. Challenge yourself to stay ahead of your kids and come up with new ways to come together as an active family.” – Jami Savage, family adventure blogger at AdventureAwaits.ca, Langley; Two children, 5 and 7.
Ride safe and leave no one behind
“The rule of group rides is that no one gets left behind. If a street light splits the group, then the rider at the front must wait for the riders at the back to catch up. Ride single file where needed and put a responsible person at the back as the ‘sweep.’ Get everyone to point out obstacles along the route so the following person can avoid them. Always stay to the right, just like a car, and use your bell to announce yourself when approaching walkers.” – Gordon Hobbis, owner, Cap’s Bicycle Shop and Museum, New Westminster; Two sons, Jake, 21, and Joey, 18.
Hydrate, be aware of the danger of hot cars
“Unfortunately summer is synonymous with people leaving children and pets in hot cars. It’s very basic safety, but don’t leave things you love in hot vehicles. Also, people need to learn how to swim and those who can’t must wear life jackets or approved floatation devices around water, or it could end in drowning and tragedy. Despite my warnings about open water, kids and pets need to drink a lot of it, especially in the heat. My house is stocked with water bottles and there are never less than three in use at any time.” – Cst. Ian MacDonald, Abbotsford Police Department; Two children, Alia, 15, and Kieran, 11.
Try new foods
“As a parent, I have modelled healthy eating and not dieting. This is a strong value of mine to ensure my family receives proper nutrition. My wife Amrit and I encourage the kids to try different foods. Even though they end up choosing many of the foods they are familiar with, but slowly they are adding new foods to their favourites. Both of my kids also cook their own meals which allow them to experiment eating a variety of foods. We have our cheat days – who can live without pizza? – but it is all about balance” – Sukh Rai, vice principal, Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary School, Surrey; Two children, Arjen, 21 and Jaiya, 18.
Tour a farm
“We like getting out for a day of farm-fresh fun on a self-guided tour with Circle Farm Tour in the Fraser Valley. Check Circlefarmtour.com for a road map that directs you to a variety of specialty farm-gate vendors, open air markets, charming eateries, heritage sites, fairs and special events. After we learn about – and buy – some amazing local produce, we’re ready for a picnic. We grab our basket filled with healthy treats and head to Campbell Valley Park, located at 20290 16 Ave. in Langley. There are so many picnic-perfect spots to discover as well as beautiful, lush trails – we usually want to spend the whole day.” – Kristyl Clark, blogger at Valleymom.ca and author of the Black Press column “Pink Laundry;” Langley; Two children, Molly, 7, and Zoe, 5.
Grow your own garden
“My daughter and I both love to cook and believe that making food from scratch helps to control what is going into the foods we eat. We like to garden together and she gets very excited when we make meals from our garden. My kids love making homemade freezies and will often have frozen fruit as a snack. Soups are a staple in our house and every week we make a new pot using up all the veggies that may not make the week. My kids love soup and salads and I find they are both easy ways for them to get their daily intake of vitamins and are very quick to prep.” – Brittany Manulak, co-owner, Abbotsford’s Concept Plumbing and Gas, resident of Yarrow, volunteer with the Crystal Gala Foundation committee, which has fundraised for the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation; Two children, Maresha, 9, and William, 7.
Get outside on family cabin-and-camping trips
“We’ll be heading up to 70 Mile in the Cariboo, camping, hopefully swimming, and enjoying campfire sing-a-longs with my extended family. Later in July we’ll be heading to Hornby Island where I run a camp for children and youth who are blind and their families. After Hornby the three of us will head to the Shuswap where my Dad has a place at the lake. We’ll go boating and swimming and play on the beach. We’ll finish off the summer at the Blind Beginnings Family Adventure Camp on the Sunshine Coast. This year Nicholas might be old enough to stay up for the campfire sing-a-longs. He’ll also enjoy our hikes and visits to the local farmer’s market. We’re definitely looking forward to many adventures this summer.” – Shawn Marsolais, founder of Blind Beginnings, a non-profit supporting children and youth who are blind or partially sighted and their families, New Westminster; Son Nicholas, 2½.
Catch what you eat
“Traditional foods in the summer are especially fun in the Sto:lo Territory and I love to pass traditional food teachings to my children at this time. When the cotton blows, Spring salmon season has arrived and our first salmon ceremonies begin to honour the salmon for returning up the river. When berries come into season, we freeze and can them to preserve for household use and feasting during the longhouse ceremony season. I am hoping to teach my children to use gillnets, drift nets, dry racks and other processing and preservation methods in the years to come.” – Inez “Lexaltenaut” Point, registered nurse, award-winning singer-songwriter, actress, producer and public speaker, Skowkale First Nation, Stol:lo Territory; Two children, Zane “Xwemxwe'eleq” Jasper, 7, Zara “Soteli:siya” Jasper, 3.
Try a new recipe
The family that cooks together, stays together. That home truth comes from Dr. Greg Chang, founder of the SuperChefs Cookery for Kids, a B.C.-based organization that teaches children and youth about healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Summer brings a bounty of produce that can be used in dishes that are healthy and delicious, made family-style. So head out to a local farmer’s market, pick out the freshest ingredients, go to your favourite fish market to pick up some fresh B.C. salmon, and build a SuperChefs Nicoise Salad together. Everyone loves to eat what they cook.