Summer vacation for the man in debt

Scott Gill

June 27, 2013 – Christy busted in my classroom too excited for schoolwork. Paris would be her summer destination.

“Paris,Texas?” I asked.

“Paris, France, Coach,” she giggled – although to me, Paris, Texas, sounded pretty good.

The class erupted in vacation plans: Brittany was visiting her family’s beach house in Galveston while Charlie would deep-sea fish in Cozumel.

“Where are you going, Coach?”

I was considering Paris, Texas, but I decided to change the subject because, until I won the Powerball, that was probably our best choice. It was “peanut-butter-till-payday-week” and I had just been paid. You know, it’s cruelly ironic how being a teacher affords me the time to travel, but having a family of six demands a lottery payout for it.

Nevertheless, necessity is the mother of invention and with a little southern ingenuity, I’ve got some ideas to make a “slim” summer tons of fun. Hopefully, they’ll provide some inspiration when you have more month than money. 

Fishing Fridays… 

As a kid, on Dad’s day off (every Wednesday), we fished. I’ve decided to continue that tradition and declared every Friday to be “Fishing Fridays.” We buy a carton of worms ($3) and head to friend’s pond (and for an extra thrill, sneak into someone’s pond who isn’t a friend). It’s not fancy, but it’s fun. We don’t catch hundreds like folks who hire fishing guides, but we leave with a few keepers. Then, we clean ‘em, freeze ‘em, and plan a fry. If all you have are sardines, then double up on the jalapeno hushpuppies. 

Redneck Waterpark… 

Visiting waterparks was once a rarity so we had to create our own. We’d find a steep hill and roll out the garden plastic and hoses. In minutes we hadHurricaneHarborfor a fraction of the cost. Now, you can go buy one of those fancy-shmancy waterslides, and for about 20 bucks you get a 15-footer (whoa, 15 whole feet, don’t hurt yourself), or you can spend the same amount for 50 feet of garden plastic (now, that’s a water slide!) Turn on a hose or two and you have the biggest slip-n-slide in the neighborhood (You could charge admission; Paris, Texas, or bust!)

After awhile, watersliding becomes mudwrestling, making a fun day an epic memory. You need only consider the water restrictions. If that occurs, you may be cut short – or the admission fees you charged will have to pay the fine. 

Moviethon and Mallows… 

Last summer, Angie and I caught an episode of Breaking Bad, and good thing it was on Netflix ($8/mo.) because we would’ve spent a fortune on the DVD’s. Every night we neglected the kids (joking) for back-to-back episodes. Afterwards, Angie learned how to make campfire S’mores without breaking burning laws: grab some clay flowerpots, line them with foil, light charcoal inside each one, and there’s flaming flavor to your favorite. Combine the activities and you’ve got a summer movie marathon with a touch of the great outdoors.

I know that there are a ton more ideas such as going to a park or a pool or hanging out at Concerts on theLake, but those have become the norm for summer. Vacation is all about memory making and that should never end regardless of the pocketbook—all it takes is a little invention and a ton of laughs.

Blue Ribbon News special contributor Scott Gill of Rockwall is a teacher, coach and author of Goliath Catfish. Follow his blog at


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