I should say up front that I had a great merchandising consultant for this post, my eleven year old son Guy. He was granted editing power. His only critique, "There's no surf board, Mom!" I explained that some of my friends kids may not live near an ocean. I'm convinced he thinks I made a mistake in not including one. So, if you live near the ocean, add a surfboard to your list!Summer with boys is a really magical time because boys are built for the outdoors. I have found there are three places that you can stick a boy with a snack and he will be happy for hours, by a body of water, a group of trees or a mound of dirt, whether an anthill or a mountain. Stick them in one of these places with a friend and you have hit the jackpot. I've also discovered that the simpler the supplies, the happier my son seems to be. I have given up on elaborate Summer toys, he wants the basics, a nerf gun, a kite, a big whacking stick, a flashlight and a compass. So here are Guy's top picks.
1. A Kite - The great thing about a kite is that it's always under estimated and it always over delivers. A summer essential. A kite is an opportunity to decorate the sky. Go large. Look for a specialty kite shop. Spend $25-$50. The bigger the better. Launch and watch as the kids try to get the kite away from Dad. Pictured, Target Kite.
2. A Compass - Does anyone really know how to use a compass? Not that it really matters. All I know is that my son loves his. It's a James Bond tool thing. A prized possession. This one from Dick's Sporting Goods is very reasonably priced, delivering a lot of mileage. Dick's. $19.99.
3. A Watch - I used to believe that if I gave my son a watch, he would watch the time and come home when told. Now I'm a realist. It's a cool Summer accessory. GapKids Watch. $9.50.
4. Rope - I know what you are saying, "Really?" I don't really know what they (my husband and son) do with it, I just know its always in the bag when they leave. Back they come and I hear about swinging over a creek, or dangling off a cliff. They have had a lots of fun with a length of rope, but you, like me, may not want to be present.
5. A Flashlight- An essential for nighttime flashlight tag, scaring your friend by shining it in front of your face or staying up late reading under your covers. Every boy should have one. I think it's a rule. REI. $20.95.
6. Water Gun - "OMG Mom, that is awesome, can I have one?", when I pulled the picture from the Nerf Gun website. Even I have to admit that this one is particularly stylish. I should have stock in Nerf. Target. $16.99.
7. Headlamp - We purchased one of these for our son last year before we went to Yosemite. He loved it. He wore it everywhere. Great for outdoor camping adventures, or for just looking cool! REI. $39.95.
8. Summer Backpack- If you have a little boy, you know how they love skulls, which is why I chose this backpack. Even better, it's a slimy green color! A Summer backpack is a great place for all the stuff! Amazon. $42.95.
9. Snorkeling Gear, known in our house as James Bond Gear - Whether you live near the ocean, a pool or a lake, this is one of the best things you can buy. Nothing better than flippers and a snorkel. Hours of fun. Target. $20.99.
10. Skateboard - There are some great skate shops out there. I encourage you to allow your little dude to pick out his own style and color. Personalizing their own skateboard is half the fun. Also, it is a great form of transport for getting to a pals house and back. Target Skateboard. $29.74.
11. Graphic T's- Nothing better than some awesome duds for Summer. I love this Union Jack shirt from Mini Boden. Shocking, I know! Screams cool dude. Mini Boden. $26.00.
12. Shorts- I've already rambled on about these shorts from Mini Boden. They are a huge hit at our house. Apparently nothing says it like bright red camouflage. Mini Boden. $38.00.
13. Rash Guard- I'm a big believer in the rash guard shirt. Whether or not you live by the ocean, these light weight shirts are great to wear all Summer if you a playing outside. They help prevent sunburn and dry really quickly. GapKids Rash Guard. Sale. $9.99.
14. Flip Flops- I love the ones from the Gap. We usually buy a couple of pairs, because somewhere along the line, we are sure to loose at least one set. GapKids Flip Flops. $7.95.
15. Sweatshirt- I purchased one of these from Mini Boden last year and it still looks as good as the day it arrived. Great for cool Summer evening. Mini Boden $40.00.
16. Slip on Shoes- Easy to wear and comfortable. And Summer should mean that you don't have to remember to tie your shoes. Mini Boden. $38.00.