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468473_10200919192559593_778993571_oSo I was talking to my friend Rick the other day about doing things with my children while being pretty broke. We can’t afford a vacation or even to go to Six Flags, so what do you do with the kids during the hot months of summer when they are out of school and bored out of their minds in Saint Louis, and on a budget? Well, I have some answers for you.

Here are some great deals you can find this summer, Want to take the kids to a movie? That sounds really expensive, soda, popcorn, tickets. OH MY…Never fear. Wehrenberg has free family movies on Wednesdays and Thursdays through August at 10:00 A.M. Also, if refreshments are sounding expensive they have a kid’s combo popcorn and soda for only $5.00. However, there will be no movies during the week of fourth of July.

How about the Magic House in Kirkwood? Sounds expensive at $9.00+ dollars per person over a year old…but they have free family nights the third Friday of every month from 5:30-9:00. No more than two adults and four children per group. The next one is on June 21st, then July 19th, August 16th. For families who want to focus a little more on fitness and fun the Magic House also has Centene Fitness Fun Friday’s. Each month is a new monthly challenge and your kids can print off a fitness sheet to turn in for free admission. The first 100 families to register each month will receive a free backpack filled with different health related items. Cool, huh?

Of course, we have downtown and Forest Park. Catch a free show at the Muny, visit the Arch Museum, the Riverfront, Kiener Plaza, City Garden, Art Museum, Zoo, and did you know that not only is the Science Center free, but they too have free movies? Typically the first Friday of the month at 10:00pm they have a free showing of a different movie for free at the Omnimax.

Suson park in South County is free and has some barnyard animals to check out. Jefferson Barracks is a great place for a nature walk in the trails. Another thing to consider, your local library. They have family nights with movies, different free classes for kids, adults, and teens. Story times, crafts, and even teen video game nights. This is not only good for the kids to help them to socialize with new people but to give you a bit of a break.

Now, if you have a little money to spend, you can send the kids (5-12) to your local YMCA for a kid’s night out. It is $12.00 a child but they get three hours of swim, play, dancing, movies, sports, and whatever else may interest them.

If you are frustrated when your teen sitting in front of the television and you want them to be more active, consider what I did with my 14 year old. Sign them up to learn some valuable job skills and make them feel important by volunteering. They can volunteer at the Magic House (a minimum of 30 hours total) starting at age 13. They get on the job training and my son loves it.

Another volunteer opportunity for kids starting at 15 is the Saint Louis Zoo. They learn cashiering, stocking, and various other real world skills.

Another fun opportunity for your child to volunteer is starting at age 12, the World Aquarium at the City Museum. They maintain the aquariums and attractions while learning about the sea-life and can then educate visitors.

If they love books, your local library will accept volunteers starting at age 13.

Volunteering builds character, prepares them for the working world, teaches them how to work in a group, discipline, and make new friends. Typically they volunteer in four hour intervals per shift. They can volunteer one or more days per week during the summer, and still during the school year as long as it is not a school day.

I don’t know about you, but summer camps are expensive, and let’s face it..we all want a vacation or to go to someplace fun this summer. Maybe you can’t afford it, like me, but you can find a ton of free or virtually free activities in this city. With all places that are free and public, I suggest you go as early as possible for the best parking. Oh and on a side note, you know those paid areas of the zoo, such as the children’s zoo, stingray cove, sealion sound? The first hour the zoo is open these attractions are free. Another option is a membership or a safari pass that is $10.00 per person to give you all day access to all those attractions. So have fun this summer, stay cool, drink lots of water, and explore with your family.

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