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Fun fact: the phrase “the dog days of summer” actually refers to the weeks during late July and early August when the sun is aligned with Sirius, otherwise known as the “Dog Star.” However, to those of us who aren’t astronomy geeks, this expression conjures visions of those hot, sticky, mosquito-ey days when you could fry an egg on the sidewalk and water the plants with your sweat mustache.

However, these days are also — DUN, DUN, DUN — the last days of summer break for most military families stationed across the globe.

As a kid, summer seemed to go on forever, because it was an endless loop of the same activities, week after week: running barefoot, jumping through sprinklers, slurping popsicles, sweaty afternoon naps, jumping off the high dive at the community pool, arguing in the neighbor’s rumpus room over a game of Monopoly or Clue.

But today, summer flies by faster than your older brother on a backyard Slip ‘N Slide, because modern families tend to be overscheduled year round with sports, lessons, camps and activities. Now, with only a week or two of summer left for most military families, it’s time to have a last blast of fun before it’s too late.

“But, but, but ... there’s nothing to dooooo,” you say in a whiny voice. WRONG. Believe it or not, wherever you are in the world, there is LOTS of fun to be had before summer break ends. Don’t waste these last precious days lying around watching “Practical Jokers” reruns under your air-conditioning vent, because before you know it, you’ll be up at 7 a.m. facing nine months of carpools, homework, sports practices, parent-teacher conferences, bus schedules, permission forms, band recitals, fundraisers and packed lunches.

Military installations may look olive drab and boring, but hidden among the utilitarian buildings are organizations that are great resources for recreation, travel, sports, activities and fun. Military Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) programs have roots in the American Revolution, when “sutlers” were appointed to provide for soldiers’ personal needs. Later, “Canteen Associations” were organized as centers for social functions to promote esprit de corps.

Today, MWR provides military personnel with not only social functions, but also trips, lessons, recreation, sports, concerts, activities, movies and more. Here are just a few options you can find on your military installations’ MWR websites before school is back in session:

In Japan, schedule a tee time at Taiyo MCCS Golf Course in Okinawa. See the Waterfalls of Saga through MWR Sasebo Travel & Tours. In Yokosuka, hike Mount Fuji if you’re feeling daring, or take the kids bowling if you’re too hot and sweaty to be outside. At Camp Zama, bring your blow-up unicorn and family to Flick and Float Movie Night at the pool.

In Germany, hop on a quick bus trip from Stuttgart to Paris, or hang from a cliff on a “hohengluksteig” (high ropes course) in Klettersteig. In Italy, have lunch on the Amalfi Coast, plan a family picnic at Gaeta Olde Mill Inn Park, try canyoning outside of Vicenza, go spelunking outside of Aviano or go paddleboarding in Sicily.

Enter the Korea-wide Hiking and Cycling Challenge. Near Seoul, careen down the tracks at Belle Foret Extreme Luge and Ranch through Humphreys’ MWR Outdoor Recreation.

Go snorkeling in Pearl Bay through MWR Bahrain.

In Hawaii, go see the Preacher Lawson Comedy Show at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, register for the Kalepa Trail Hike at PMRF Barking Sands or rent a pontoon boat at Kaneohe Bay.

Why not throw an end-of-summer party in Chievres, Belgium, and rent a popcorn maker, a slushy machine and a dunk tank? Or, get medieval in Lakenheath, England, and rent a pig roaster and an inflatable castle? Go caving in Wales, or make some cheese in Spain.

Spend a weekend at Alaska’s Seward Military Resort and go ziplining, or take a sunset cruise from Pelican Pete’s Marina at GTMO.

Book a room at one of MWR’s Armed Forces Recreation Resorts in Hawaii, Florida, Germany, Korea or Japan.

Last call, folks — Grab the dog days by the tail and have some last-minute summer fun!

Read more at themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisa’s book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com. Email: meatandpotatoesoflife@gmail.com

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