Sidewalk artist

Lists. Even in this technological day and age, a simple, written list is quite useful. So much so that even our smartphones are comprised of lists. They are tucked away behind the pictures of our apps, lined up like tiny files.

My precocious daughter, all of 10 years old, composed her own list recently. She could not have done it without the guidance and help of her very best friend in the neighborhood, a sophisticated 12-year-old.

The list they created is all about what they would like to do in Walla Walla this summer. When they showed it to me, adorned with heart and sunshine doodles, I knew it was a great idea. In fact, I thought it might inspire others to write their own lists of local summer adventure.

Here is our list:

Sidewalk Chalk

The girls explained to me this means coloring the entire block’s worth of sidewalk with chalk. I suggested asking the approval of the neighbors, and possibly enlisting the help of the little girls who live three doors down. They agreed to the suggestions. I personally look forward to seeing daily walkers enjoying the “pop-up” art gallery as it appears under their feet.

Cancer-Research Charity Project

 The girls have been working on this project all winter. They plan to sell bracelets and give the money to a local charity that supports cancer research. For Christmas, both girls received the rubber-band looms that are currently so popular. These looms can design all sorts of bracelets. The girls usually go into my daughter’s room and loom a few bracelets a week while listening to the soundtrack from the movie “Frozen.” Yes, I know all the words now, too. 

Lemonade Stand

A classic. I believe the proceeds will also benefit cancer research.


My daughter is happiest outside. If she could live in a tree house, she would. Luckily, there are plenty of places nearby to pitch a tent for the weekend. Our first stop will be the Lewis and Clark Trail State Park. It has 2 miles of hiking trails (plenty for little ones), and there’s swimming and fishing on the Touchet River. And it is only 25 miles from Walla Walla. 

Geology Digging/Rock Collection

I don’t remember when it started, but my daughter seems to have always picked up rocks wherever she goes. She loves them and now has quite a large collection supplemented by her grandmother and a lovely woman who takes the fitness classes I teach. My daughter’s collection has caught the eye of our neighbor friend, and she would like to begin her own. We purchased a book, “Gem Trails of Washington” by Garret Romaine. It details wonderful regional hikes and where to find rocks in our state. It also gives ideas of where to camp. This book kills three birds on the list with one stone — I couldn’t resist.

Run in Sprinklers/Pendleton Pool/

Milton-Freewater Pool

As long as we all wear sunscreen, I plan to indulge in these activities, too! It’s great to take a short drive out of town to a fun water park. It feels like a mini vacation!

Milton-Freewater Drive-In Movies

We piled into my little wagon last summer and caught a double feature of “Planes” and “Monsters University.” The girls had a marvelous time bundled up in the car, eating popcorn. I had less of a good time jumping the battery at 11 p.m. because my car couldn’t handle keeping the radio on that long. This year I’m bringing a separate radio. Live and learn.


My daughter had a wonderful time last summer attending the Girl Scout camp outside Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She went for three days last year, and insists that a week this summer won’t be long enough. The girls are also interested in attending the Walla Walla Community College Kids College program. Last year they learned how to write comics, and they did wonderful science experiments. Who knows what they will learn this summer?

Outdoor Movies/S’mores

Our neighbors are truly wonderful. Last summer, they set up a sheet in their backyard and projected a movie onto it for our children. They also have a fire pit and made gooey s’mores. Clearly, it made a lasting impression on the girls, and they are placing an order for another evening under the stars. 

Sleep in Backyard

I am fairly certain that most children attempt this each summer and end up in their parents’ room around 1 a.m. That is usually when a “strange noise” is heard. 

Summer is right around the corner, and it’s not too early to write a list of things you would like to do — no matter what age you are. I love that the list the girls came up with includes philanthropy, physical activities, education and nature.

However, your list may focus on one passion or a dozen. The beauty of it is that it’s yours.

I will be quite busy keeping up with my daughter’s list, but have added one item of my own. I would like to master conversational Spanish.

I have purchased the CDs and have people at work who have promised to help me practice.

If you are stuck for ideas or need a place to start your own list, there are many books with great ideas. A few books that we love for children are “Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato and Ha Ha Ha, A Rulebook of Children’s Games” by Jack Maguire, “The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas” by Fiona Watt and “The Daring Book for Girls” by Miriam Peskowitz. There is also a boys’ version, “The Dangerous Book for Boys” by Conn and Hal Igguiden.  

Summertime in Walla Walla is always brimming with activities. If you don’t feel like writing a list, simply step outdoors. A walk around the neighborhoods will surely turn up some kind of adventure.

You might even be enlisted in helping children color sidewalks with chalk.

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