Having a middle school-aged child you need to keep busy throughout the summer can be a real challenge. They are maturing and their idea of fun is changing compared to when they were younger.

One of the biggest battles is to get them away from their computers, TVs and cell phones and out into the fresh air and wider world.

1 – Summer Camp

Summer camp is often the best solution for working parents in the summer. Children will get to do all sorts of activities, including sports and arts and crafts. The Y has many affordable camps around the country.

Compare the facilities. Some have a pool and the children will be allowed to swim every day, compared with only once or twice a week in other places.

Your child might also be old enough for sleepaway camp — various age restrictions apply. The Y runs two-week sleepaway camps in various locations. Private camps will be more expensive, but they can be worth it if working parents are really under pressure when it comes to full-time childcare in the summer, and the camps will include room and board.

They can help your child make new friends and become more independent too. They will also often learn valuable new lessons such as orienteering and survival skills such as making a fire and putting up a tent.

2 – Become a Tourist in Your Own Town

Make a list of all the places you’ve never been or would like to go to. Consider working in a circle up to a 10-mile radius from your home to see what fun things you can find.

3 – Check Out the Latest Events

Check the local paper for any free or cheap events coming up that your family would like to attend. There are often barbecues in public parks, craft days at museums, build your own item days at Home Depot or Lowe’s, and so on.

4 – Go to a Free Concert in the Park

Cities and towns nationwide put on free concerts in the public parks in the summer. It’s a great way to introduce kids to various types of music and how to sit and listen to live performances without getting too bouncy.

5 – Check Out Theater in the Park

Summer is the time for open air theater. Grab a blanket and a picnic, and discover the wonders of Shakespeare and other greats.

6 – Cook as a Family

You can teach children a lot through cooking, such as numbers, measurements, science and chemistry, and more. It’s also a great survival skill that will help them become increasingly more independent.

Start out with some simple but fun things like cookies and muffins. Work your way up to pizza dough, and let your children create their own individual pizzas. Offer them an array of topping, cheese, pepperoni, sausage and so on, and see what they come up with.

They might enjoy this so much it could become a weekly Friday night family tradition.

7 – Teach Them a New Hobby or Craft

Can you sew? Do you like to scrapbook, collect coins or stamps, or do genealogy? Why not teach your child as well? Or, if they want to learn a craft, why not try it together? You can spend quality time together as you learn something new.

8 – A Day or Night at the Museum

Check your local listings for anything special going on at the museums in your area. They might include a sleepover night at the museum for the whole family. Prices will usually be per person but include food, snacks, private tours and lots of educational information.

Try these ideas to keep your middle school-aged child occupied during the summer without breaking the bank.