Hey! Back to School shopping: we’re talking to you. You represent the end of the dog days more than Labor Day, more than the equinox and even more than the plummeting mercury in our thermometers. We may be excited for the kids to expand their minds and unleash their daily dose of energy. But as adults, we refuse to accept that summer ends when the school bell rings.

There’s plenty of time to maximize this gorgeous time of year. In no particular order:

10. Let your kids plan the Labor Day Weekend festivities. Three days. Ideal temps. Unlimited imagination. Set a few parameters (or not) and let them come up with their dream way to spend three days. We bet they’ll surprise you with outdoor fun. No kids? Easy. Make your own Labor Day plans with the same unlimited imagination and zeal for adventure.

9. Wake up early. Say what? Summer is supposed to be the season of relaxation and sleeping in. But as the daylight hours shorten, waking up early is the only way to maximize the sun’s Vitamin D-giving goodness. Bonus: if you live near the ocean, the waves are probably getting bigger. If you live inland, consider early rising training for dawn patrol skinning sessions and blissful morning skate skis.

8. Barbeque. There is a caveat: you must use charcoal. Propane grills score for efficiency, but nothing smells of summer like charcoal. Bonus points if you take the Hibachi to the beach or local campground.

7. Pull out your favorite sweater. This may be counter-intuitive to the goal of celebrating summer, but hear us out. After months of hot weather and hiding from the heat, how good does a little chill feel? Really good—for few minutes. Pull on your sweater and cozy up in your big bundle of warmth. Consider this tip your Zen practice for living in the present season.

6. Explore your local wilderness. Summer tends to be the season of extravagant, faraway trips. How much do you know about the wilderness within a four-hour drive of your home? Select one cardinal direction for each of the next four weekends, pack your tent and sleeping bags and hit the (local) road.

5. Nest. Every other animal is busy preparing for winter. No, don’t pack on mega-pounds for hibernation, à la black bears. Instead, think of nesting as organization. When your 3-season tent has seen its last workday for the year, air it out, treat it with Tent and Gear Solarproof and pack it away. Pull out your cold weather gear and proof it for the season. Most manufacturers, as well as retailers like REI, have online recommendations for the proper way to pack and store your summer gear for winter.

4. Celebrate the regional season. In the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast, it’s river and creeking season. In the Southwest, the Rockies and the Northeast, it’s mountain biking time. Most of us choose where we live based in large part on weather. Get outside and enjoy whatever weather your hometown is throwing at you.

3. Set a winter goal and build a foundation now. Do you want to run a marathon in January? Classic ski the 54K American Birkebeiner in February? It’ll be a whole lot easier to start your training in gorgeous late summer weather. Maybe you can throw a barbeque (see Tip 8) at a nearby campground (see Tip 6) and inspire a group of friends to do it with you.

2. Garden. Are you lucky enough to have your own plot in the backyard? Celebrate harvest season with seasonal meals and canning parties. No space or no green thumb? Volunteer at the local community garden. It’s an important time to prepare the soil for next year’s planting. It’s not as glamorous as sowing the seeds, but turning soil is great exercise, outside fun and connects you to the community.

1. Spend every available minute outside. Some days, especially with kids back in school and daylight waning, you have neither the time nor the energy for an elaborate outdoor adventure. Instead of feeling guilty, just step outside. Sit on the deck or walk around the block. Heck, grab a cold beer and appreciate this life you’ve built. Raise your glass to your family, your friends and another beautiful summer. Cheers… to the good life!

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